Malt serves the brewer in three ways; it provides a form of sugar that can be turned into alcohol by the yeast; it nourishes the yeast in the course of its work, and ensures that it does it well; and it likewise nourishes the man who drinks the brew, since it contains a fair amount of unfermentable solids, rich in food value, which survive in the finished drink to give it flavour and body. The hydrometer reading of a finished beer is proof of this: it will not, like a dry wine, fall to zero or below, but stick at between 2 (for a light ale) and 8 (for a heavy stout). In a wine this would normally indicate the presence of unfermented sugar. In a beer it is not sweetness but food that remains behind.

Malted barley grains, like coffee, can be roasted light or dark, and are sold as "Crystal" malt or "Patent Black." Crystal malt gives light and nutty flavours, and colours varying from pale amber to rich brown. Black malt brings a burnt and rather woody taste, and the liquor appears to be black, until you see the garnet-coloured lights in it.

There are several ways of getting the good out of the malted grain. You can "mash" the malt yourself., steeping it in water in a temperature of 130-150 degrees for not less than four hours before straining off the "wort" from the grain, and then boiling it up with hops, or whatever herb you choose. In this method you have the pleasure of handling a raw material no less mysterious than the grape, and you get on the whole a drink of cleaner flavour. Or you can save yourself the trouble (this is important if you are brewing for a daily drink), and buy the malt already extracted. This extract is simply dissolved by pouring over it the boiling infusion of herbs. Malt extract makes excellent light ales with a minimum of work. It also brings within the home-brewer's grasp really strong drinks of the Barley Wine and Audit Ale type, without the cost being in any way excessive. Such heavily malted drinks would be far too dear to form part of one's daily fare, were extraction done at home.

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