Five On Five: Brewers Discuss Their Favorite Malt-Forward Beers

While an essential ingredient in beer, malt is overlooked in favor of hops or yeast. However, the ingredient that gives color, ABV, and a strong dose of character is important. We asked a few of our favorite brewers to share their malt-forward beer picks.

John Holl Apr 4, 2018 - 4 min read

Five On Five: Brewers Discuss Their Favorite Malt-Forward Beers Primary Image

CraftRoots Red Rye Ale

Jodi Andrews, QA Cellar Supervisor, Isle Brewers Guild in Pawtucket, Rhode Island
“We’re living in IPA-challenging times, so one that really showcases malts stands out to me. This one, from a former colleague at BeerWorks Fenway in Boston really brings several malts to the forefront. Chocolate malt, wheat, Munich, base malt, and rye. The rye brings just enough spiciness so you can detect and recognize what it is. It has a caramel raisin character that is just so nice, too. It’s a red IPA, sure, but it really puts malt first.”

North Peak Hail Pale Ale

Thomas Kerns, owner and brewer at Big Island Brewhaus in Kamuela, Hawaii
“Most excellent beers are made with a harmonious blend of malted grains, mostly barley. On a recent trip, I discovered this tailgating beer made for the University of Michigan. It’s a wonderful example of a lighter session beer that has beautiful malt structure that carries the beer. It’s delicate and complex with 2-row, wheat, and Vienna as a base and some flaked adjuncts and acidulated malt to create a smooth dry finish that harmonizes the assertive well-chosen American hops.”

Ecliptic Brewing Capella Porter

Jason Carriere, owner and brewer, Falling Sky Brewery in Eugene, Oregon
“A great example of the integration of complex malt flavors in a traditionally very simple beer style.  The caramel, chocolate, and roast flavors from the dark malts dance in harmony, so well-balanced that with each sip, it seems a different one takes center stage.  And of course, this is the Pacific NW, so all that malt is well-balanced with a dry, earthy hops finish that gets you ready for the next sip.”

Hogshead Gilpin Black Gold

Jordan Fink, owner and head brewer at Woods Boss Brewing Co. in Denver, Colorado
“Malty beers are like the poor stepchild in the industry these days, which is a shame. I often feel that malty beers are harder to do because you can’t hide behind hops. One of my favorite styles of all time is porters. Hogshead Brewery in the Highlands of Denver makes amazing English-style ales, and my personal favorite (and possibly the best porter I ever had) is their Gilpin Black Gold. It is incredibly rich, silky, dry, and smooth. Pleasantly lingering coffee and cocoa notes give way to an earthy spice and notes of dried fruit. In a world dominated by hoppy beers, Hogshead challenges the notion that IPAs rule.”

The Brewer’s Art Resurrection

Brian O’Reilly, brewmaster at Sly Fox Brewing Co. in Pottstown, Pennsylvania
“I really admire the complex malt character of Resurrection, a Belgian-inspired cult classic beer from Baltimore brewed by The Brewer’s Art. The notes of raisin, toffee, and black bread are perfectly balanced with the Belgian yeast character and a lean drinkable body.”

John Holl is the author of Drink Beer, Think Beer: Getting to the Bottom of Every Pint, and has worked for both Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine® and All About Beer Magazine.