When it comes to malt color and flavor, sensory tests are a good way to get an idea about the character of a given variety. In particular, the hot steep method has gradually won over a growing number of brewers due to its simplicity, affordability, and effectiveness.
Yet, at the end of the day, there’s no substitute for tasting how malt expresses itself in a finished beer. Sure, your senses know what to expect from the base malt in your core beers—but what if you want to try something different, or what if supply-chain issues force your hand? What if you want to brew with a regional heirloom grain or a new specialty malt that sounds intriguing?
Would you rely on a Certificate of Analysis (COA)? A sensory test? Another brewer’s recommendation?