Homebrew Ingredients

In addition to the homebrewing ingredients covered in the Beginner section, intermediate brewers can expect to use specialty and base grains to add more character and complexity to beers that you might otherwise not be able to achieve using only malt extract. Irish moss is introduced as a means of clarifying beer if you experience haze that shouldn’t be present.

Specialty and Base Grains

  • Homebrewing Base MaltsMalt is the principle source for fermentable sugar in beer.
  • Raw, brewing-grade barley undergoes a germination and kilning process by malt manufacturers to prepare it for brewers. In other words, malt is barley that has been sprouted and dried.
  • Every combination of roasting time, temperature, pH, concentration, sugar and nitrogenous compounds will create a different set of flavor chemicals in a malt.
  • Base malts, such as Pale and Pilsner malt, must be processed to extract the fermentable sugars necessary for creating beer. This process is already completed in malt extracts, but all-grain brewers must conduct a mash to convert starches to fermentable sugars.
  • Specialty malts (e.g., chocolate malt), don’t require a mashing process and are used to add flavor and color to beers. Utilizing specialty malts is a relatively easy way to add more depth and character to extract brews.
  • Unmalted grains such as oats, wheat or roasted barley are sometimes used in the brewing process as well.

Irish Moss

  • Homebrewing Irish MossIrish moss is a type of red algae called carrageen that attracts large proteins, and ultimately aids in producing crystal clear beer.
  • It’s one of the only clarifying agents that is added during the boil. Most clarifying agents are added after fermentation.
  • After being pitched into the boil pot, the Irish moss enhances the clumping and precipitation of the hot break proteins that would otherwise contribute to haze and staling reactions in beer.
  • Irish moss also comes in concentrate form, often times called Super Moss.