Malty Beer – What Does It Taste Like? (Plus The Best Ones To Try!)

For any homebrewer, the idea of a malty beer is definitely something that has cropped up in their mind at least once.

Typically, we’re more fond of hoppy tasting beers and tend to ignore their malt brothers.

Malty Beer – What Does It Taste Like

If you’ve never tasted a malt beer before, you’re probably wondering what it tastes like before you decide to buy.

Well, in short – you can’t really say it tastes like “X” because there are so many tastes to malt beer.

It’s very complex with plenty of variables, so we’ve made a handy guide for you to get to know malt beer much better. We’ll look at the tastes, the types and which ones you should try!

So, before you try one – read on for more!

What Does A Malty Beer Mean Exactly?

A malty beer’s primary taste is due to the malts that were used at the time of brewing. Malt is the base of all beer and therefore, most beers will have some form of malt in them.

The type of malt that was used will determine how strong or sweet the beer is going to be.

The two main types of malt are pale ale malt and crystal malt. These are the basic ingredients in making almost every style of beer.

Pale Ale Malt

This is the base of most ales and lagers. It gives off a slightly sweet flavor and also helps balance out the bitterness from hops.

Crystal Malt

This is often added to darker beers such as stouts and porters. This is not only used for its sweetness but also to give the beer a deeper color.

Types Of Malted Barley

There are three main types of barley: 2-row, 6-row and 8-row. The number after row refers to the size of the grain. The larger the number, the bigger the grain.

2-row barley is the most common type of barley used in brewing. It is low in protein and high in starch. This makes it great for light colored beers.

6-row barley is similar to 2-row barley except it contains higher amounts of proteins and lower levels of starch. This means it produces a stronger beer than 2-row barley.

8-row barley is the largest variety of barley. It is generally used for dark beers such as stouts. It’s high in protein and low in starch content.

What Does Malty Beer Taste Like?

Now that we’ve covered the basics about malts, let’s take a closer look at the different flavors they can produce.


As mentioned above, this is usually produced by using a large amount of sugar during fermentation. Some examples include wheat beers, fruit beers and brown ales.


Bittersweet is another term for this. This is typically achieved through the use of hops. Hops add bitterness to the beer and help balance out the sweetness.


This comes from the Maillard reaction between sugars and amino acids. This results in caramelization and creates a roasted flavor.


This is a result of the combination of grains and yeast. It’s reminiscent of coffee beans and earthy aromas.


This is where the fruit comes into play. You may notice hints of apple, pear or even banana.


This is the result of the addition of nuts. They’re often added to stouts and porters to make them sweeter.

Hints Of Alcohol

You might notice alcohol in your beer if you’re drinking a stout or porter. If you’re looking for a lighter version though, then you’ll want to avoid these styles.

You can get a hint of alcohol in any beer, but it’s much easier to detect when it’s present in a heavier beer like a stout or porter rather than a light beer.

Which Beers Are The Maltiest?

brown ale

There are many types of malty beer, here are some of the maltiest!

Brown Ales

  • English
  • American
  • Belgian Dark
  • English Dark

Strong Ales

  • American Strong Ale
  • Barleywine
  • Belgian Pale Ale
  • Scotch Ale
  • Belgian Quadruple
  • English Strong Ale
  • Wheat Beer

Dark Ales

  • Dubbel
  • Scottish Ale
  • Rye Beer


  • Maibock
  • Eisbock
  • Weizenbock
  • Doppelbock
  • Traditional

Dark Lagers

  • American Red
  • Vienna
  • Dunkel
  • Marzen
  • Rauchbier


  • American
  • English
  • Irish-Dry
  • Milk
  • Oatmeal


  • American
  • English
  • Imperial
  • Baltic
  • Smoked
  • Robust

How Do You Make Malt Beer?

Making malt beer is pretty simple. All you need is water, yeast, malt and hops.

You start by adding your malt to hot water. This will create enzymes which convert starches into sugars. Then you add your yeast and wait until it starts fermenting. When it does, you add your hops.

The last step is cooling down your wort and filtering it. Once cooled down, you bottle or keg it.

If you don’t have access to a home brewery, you can buy premade kits online. These contain everything you need to brew your own beer.

Hoppy VS Malty

There are some key differences between hoppy beers and malty beers. Here are the main ones:


A hopped beer has more hop character than a malt beer. Hoppiness is created with the use of hops. In a malt beer, the malt provides most of the flavor and aroma.


A malt beer tends to be less bitter than an IPA. An IPA contains lots of hops which give it its bitterness.


An IPA is generally thinner than a malt beer. This is because of the high levels of carbonation that come along with the hops.


An IPA looks cloudy while a malt beer looks clear. This is due to the different ingredients used to produce each style.


IPAs tend to be fruity while malt beers tend to be more savory.

What Is Malt Used For?


Malting barley is what makes up the majority of malted barley. Other grains such as wheat and rye can also be used.

Malts are made up of two parts: starch and protein. Starches are broken down into sugar during the germination process.

Proteins are the things that help protect the plant from bacteria and fungi.

When making malt beer, you combine the malted barley with hot water. This converts the starches into sugars.

Once the conversion has taken place, you let the mixture sit for around 20 minutes before adding the yeast.

When brewing, you usually only use one type of malt at a time. This allows you to control the amount of sweetness and body you want in your final product.

Is There Any Difference Between Malt Brewers And Breweries?

Yes, there is. Malt brewers make their own malt whereas breweries purchase malt from other producers. The difference lies in how they’re processed.

Brewers use malted barley that’s been dried and then ground. They do this so that they can easily separate out the husks from the grain.

Malt brewers on the other hand take whole barley kernels and soak them in water. This causes the kernel to swell. After soaking, the kernels are spread out on trays where they dry out.

Once they’ve dried out, they are put through a mill. This breaks apart the kernel into individual pieces called flakes.

After processing, the flakes are roasted to remove any remaining moisture. They are then left to cool and harden. Once the flakes have hardened, they are crushed into powder using a hammer mill.

The malt powder is then stored until needed.

How Long Do I Have To Age My Beer?

You should always age your beer for no less than 2 weeks. If you try to drink it sooner, you risk losing all the flavors that develop over time.

You can store your beer in the fridge or freezer if you like. However, storing it too long will cause it to lose some of its flavor.

What Are The Best Malty Beers To Try Right Now?

If you like the sound of a malty beer after reading our guide, here’s ten of the best ones you can buy right now!

Sam Adams Boston Lager

This American lager is brewed with pale ale malt and crystal malt. It has a crisp taste and a smooth finish.

Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA

This American IPA is made with Centennial, Cascade, Chinook, Citra, Mosaic, and Simcoe hops. It has a citrusy aroma and a bitter taste.

Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA

This IPA is made with Amarillo, Cascade, Chinook and Simcoe hops. Its bitterness comes from the addition of citric acid.

Bell’s Two Hearted Ale

This American amber ale is made with caramel malt and Munich malt. It has sweet notes and a mild hop character.

Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout

This English stout is made with chocolate malt and oats. It has a rich taste and a strong coffee-like aroma.

Budweiser Budvar Premium Pilsner

This Czech pilsner is made with German Hallertau Mittelfrüh and Saaz hops. It has a light flavor and a clean finish.

Das Bierhaus Oktoberfest Männers Reserve

This German Oktoberfest is made with Bavarian wheat malt and Vienna malt. It has a fruity aroma and a spicy flavor.

Porterhouse Brewing Company Porter

This English porter is made with dark brown sugar and chocolate malt. It has a deep flavor and a smooth finish.

Brooklyn Brewery Brooklyn Brown Ale

This American brown ale is made with chocolate malt, Caramel 40L, Crystal 120L, and Black Patent. It has a complex flavor and a smooth finish

Widmer Brothers Hefeweizen

This German hefeweizen is made with German Tettnanger and Perle hops. It has a refreshing taste and a clean finish.

Do You Get Drunk Faster Drinking Malty Beer Or Hoppy Beer?

malt and beer

Drinking malted beer will not make you drunk faster. In fact, it may even help slow down how quickly you get drunk.

Hoppy beers contain more alcohol than malted beers. When you combine this with their higher levels of carbonation, you end up getting drunk quicker.

However, drinking malted beer will still give you a buzz. This is because the malt helps balance out the sweetness of the hops.

Is There A Difference Between Malt And Hops?

Yes, there is a difference between malt and hops. Malt is used to create the base of a beer while hops are added afterwards to add different flavors.

Foods To Pair With Malty Beer

There are many foods that go well with malted beer. Here are some ideas:

  • Cheese
  • Chocolate
  • Roasted nuts
  • Fried food
  • Seafood
  • Pizza
  • Sausage
  • Steak

The Bottom Line

Whether you’re looking for an easy drink or something stronger, malted beer is perfect for any occasion. They have a great taste, and they pair well with just about anything.

What you need to remember about malty beer is that it can be overwhelming if you don’t know what to expect. So take your time when you first try one and find out what you like best.

Andrew Carr
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