I love beer All kinds. Big, small, light, dark, bitter, hoppy, sweet. You name it, I like it. But of all the words to describe beer, “malty” took me a while to completely understand.
Does it mean sweet? Does it mean “bready” (huh?)? Does it mean dark? Does it taste like a biscuit?
Just to use Anderson Valley’s beers as an example, there are some pretty malty beers, but they seem so different from each other. With Brother David’s Belgian Ales, to Boont Amber, Boont ESB, and Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout you’ve got an incredible range of flavor, all in a “malty” beer.
I asked our Andy Hooper, head of Quality Control at Anderson Valley and he had this to say:
“Maltiness is the perception of residual unfermented sugars that remain in a beer. Since all beers have residual sugars, ‘malty beers’ in particular are the ones that have more sweetness than bitterness. Just my point of view, no answer is the correct one.”
So there you have it. Malty doesn’t have a hard and fast definition. It’s, as usual, all about balance between body, mouthfeel, sweetness, and bitterness.
Oh, and it’s delicious.
Joe Lazar is the marketing guy for Anderson Valley, a home brewer, beer geek. In fact, he’s a geek in a lot of other ways outside of beer.