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Malt Protein: A Collab with Farmers, Maltsters, and Mother Nature

From the barley farmer’s rain forecast to adjusting your grain bill, here’s how malt develops its protein content and what that means for your beer.

Don Tse Jun 17, 2024 - 11 min read

Malt Protein: A Collab with Farmers, Maltsters, and Mother Nature Primary Image

Photo: Patrick Hayes, Oregon State University Barley Project

In turning raw barley into the very soul of beer, it’s as if maltsters can perform all sorts of miracles. They turn an inconsistent crop produced by inconsistent weather into a consistent product that can deliver a wide range of colors and flavors.

There is at least one thing, however, that maltsters cannot do.

“The maltster cannot change the total barley protein delivered by agriculture and Mother Nature, and must manage it,” says Joe Hertrich, the retired group director of raw materials for Anheuser-Busch.

How the maltster manages that protein impacts the malt’s other qualities, potentially affecting your brew day in a variety of ways. To make the best and most consistent beer from your raw materials, it pays to know the details—and not only the numbers on the malt’s certificate of analysis, but also how the maltster got to those numbers.

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Don Tse is an internationally recognized beer writer and beer judge, working from his home base in the middle of North America’s barley belt.