Conventional to gluten free malt options

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Brewers used to conventional (gluten) malts or looking to formulate gluten free recipes based on conventional ones may feel stumped by the translation process. While there is now a wide variety of different gluten free malts, the reality is that there are few if any direct equivalents. Different types of grain (barley, rye, millet, buckwheat) have unique flavor qualities that escape precise description. Because of different Maillard reactions and roasting impacts, it's helpful to separate color from flavor impacts in gluten free malts. Gluten free brewers may find it difficult to create similar color outcomes from malts that fit similar conventional malt flavor descriptions. Flavor targets may also require a combination of different gluten free grains rather than a 1:1 substitution strategy.

Conventional (Gluten) Malt Notes Lovibond Gluten Free Options Lovibond
Pilsner Malt Highly modified, low temperature kilned malt usually made from 2-row barley. Popular base malt. Delicate flavors including bready and honey, sometimes green or grassy. Can be higher in DMS. 1.4 - 2 Pale millet or rice malt 1.3 - 2.4
Pale Malt Similar to pilsner malt with slightly higher kiln temperatures used as a base malt with moderately deeper malt flavor than pilsner malt. High enzyme content. 1.7 - 2.6 Pale millet or rice malt 1.3 - 2.4
Pale Ale Malt Highly modified base malt that is somewhat darker still than pale malt. Flavor impacts are malty, biscuit and toast. Maris Otter is a well-known UK barley pale ale malt. 2.5 - 3.4 Goldfinch millet malt, Biscuit 4L rice malt 4 - 5.4
Vienna Malt Higher kilned (but not roasted) malt with more toasty, nutty, and biscuit flavors than the previous base malts. Lighter and sweeter than Munich. 2.3 - 3.5 Vienna millet malt, biscuit 4L rice malt 2.4 - 4
Munich Malt Range of higher kilned malts most associated with maltiness without moving into caramel and dark fruit flavors of crystal malts. Small amounts can be added for colour and maltiness contributions. With a relatively light roast (~2 SRM), Grouse Munich millet could be added in a much greater proportion (to 100% of the grain bill) for a much more malt forward impact. 2.8 - 15 Munich millet malt, Biscuit 15L rice malt 2.4 - 15
Melanoidin Malt Also known as honey malt, provides a very sweet, honey-like flavor produced by limiting airflow during late-stage germination and kilning. Lower temperature kilning promotes Maillard reactions that contribute to the color and flavor of this malt. 13 - 19 Currently no equivalent n/a
Biscuit Malt Malt made in a high temperature kiln with bread crust and toasted flavors. Deep amber color. 25 Light Roasted Millet Malt, Biscuit 15L Rice Malt, Biscuit 18L Rice Malt 12 - 18
Victory Malt Similar to biscuit malt with more emphasis on nutty flavor. Imparts orange color to beer. 25 Pale Buckwheat Malt, Light Roasted Millet Malt, Biscuit 18L Rice Malt 2 - 18
Amber Malt Lightly drum roasted malt providing toffee, and more significantly toasted, baked bread flavors. Some grain bitterness from the light roast. 27 Biscuit 18L Rice Malt, Red-Wing Amber Millet Malt, James' Brown Rice Malt, Medium Roasted Millet Malt, French Roasted Millet Malt, American Roasted Millet Malt 18 - 23
Brown Malt Historically used for brewing porters in the mid 19th century, originally produced from intense heat of wood fires (also lending some smoky flavor). Similar to amber malt with darker toffee, baked and nutty characteristics. Also known as snap malt. 30 - 110 James' Brown Rice Malt, Medium Roasted Millet Malt 22 - 23
Caramel / Crystal Malts Made by kilning or roasting green (still moist) malts to convert starches into sugar within the grain structure. Different variations on moisture, temperature and time lead to a broad range of different color and flavor contributions. Lighter crystal malts can be used in greater quantities with cleaner and more aromatic contributions. Darker crystal malts can provide some complex, dark fruit characteristics, but should be used with more restraint. 8 - 150 Crystal Rice Malt, Roasted CaraMillet Malt, Caramel Millet Malt, Roasted Goldfinch Millet Malt, Caramel 90L Millet Malt, Caramel 120L Millet Malt, Caramel 240L Millet Malt 2 - 240
Carapils Also known as dextrin malt. Adds unfermentable dextrins that enhance mouthfeel and body with little color contribution. 2.4 - 3.9 CaraMillet Malt, Caramel Millet Malt, Corn or tapioca maltodextrin.
Carafoam Proprietary name of a German drum-roasted caramel malt that aids in head formation and retention. 1.5 - 3 Buckwheat malt and other high protein GF additions (lentils, raw millet) 2
Special B Proprietary name of a Belgian crystal malt that provides sweet, caramel, and dark fruit flavors. Often used for Belgian Abbey and Quad beers. 117 Roasted CaraMillet Malt, Caramel 90L Millet Malt, Caramel 120L Millet Malt 15 - 120
Carafa Malt Proprietary name of a range of German specialty roast malts that provide coffee and espresso flavors. Debittered (de-hulled) varieties reduce grain bitterness and astringency. 300 - 500 Naked gas hog rice malt 350
Chocolate Malt Roasted malt that contributes bittersweet , mildly-burnt flavor. Less dark than black malt but with some astringency 400 Chocolate Roasted Millet, Dark Roasted Millet Malt, Dark Rice Malt 150 - 250
Black (patent) malt The darkest barley malt roast, used sparingly for color and cutting through sweetness of crystal malts. 500 Gas hog rice malt 350
Roasted barley Roasted unmalted barley. Somewhat more mild than malted dark roasts, it can still be astringent and harsh. Produces a lighter colored head than roasted malted barley. Features in dry Irish stouts. 550
Chit malt Undermodified malt made with short germination time. Higher in protein and beta glucan for additional head retention and viscosity. Buckwheat malt, raw millet 1 - 2
Acidulated malt Made by promoting lactic acid bacteria growth on barley during germination stage. Can be used to adjust pH of mash and to bring some light acidity to the beer. Generally used in very small quantities. No direct equivalent. Lactic acid can be used to adjust mash pH and to provide some tartness to beer without employing kettle souring or mixed-culture techniques.
Smoked malt Malt that is partially or fully kilned/dried by wood fire, contributing a light to heavily smoked flavor. German smoked malt typically utilizes beechwood, but may also include cherry, alder, and apple. Apple Wood Smoked Biscuit Rice Malt, Cherry Wood Smoked Biscuit Rice Malt 3 - 4
Peated malt A distinctly smokey malt used in whiskey distilling (e.g. Islay). Very strong phenolic flavor that is not well suited to beer. Not historically accurate for Scottish style beers. No direct equivalent
Wheat malt High protein contributor with soft, bready flavors. Factor significantly in many continental European beer styles (weizen, Berliner Weiss, hefeweizen, wit, etc). Can contribute to head retention and haze formation. Buckwheat malt, lentils, pale and Vienna millet malts, biscuit 4L rice malt (Note that wheat beer styles, especially those that with yeast driven characteristics can be reasonably mirrored with gluten free malts). 2 - 4
Midnight Wheat Highly roasted wheat, which thanks to lack of hull, provides very dark color with no bitter or astringent flavors. Hints of roasted flavor. 550 Naked gas hog rice malt 350
Rye malt Contributes a distinctive "spicy" flavor. Not commonly used in brewing, but occassionaly featured in IPAs and some specialty beers. No direct equivalent
Oat malt A non-dedicated craft maltster currently is making gluten free oat malt (see Resources page). There are two commercial producers of oat malt in the UK (Simpsons and Fawcett). Neither are certified gluten free. Malted oats can provide a more intense granola flavor. Given high beta glucan and guminess, not typically used as a base malt Flaked gluten free oats, quinoa, buckwheat malt 1 - 2