What is the difference between torrified wheat and wheat malt?

Answered by Andrew Fritz

Torrified wheat and wheat are two different ingredients used in , and they have distinct characteristics and purposes.

1. Enzymatic Properties:
– Wheat malt: Wheat malt is made by malting wheat grains, where the grains are soaked in and allowed to germinate. During germination, enzymes are produced that convert the starches in the grain into sugars. These enzymes, such as amylase, help in the mashing process by breaking down the starches into fermentable sugars that can consume.
– Torrified wheat: Torrified wheat, on the other hand, is made by heating raw wheat grains to a high temperature, causing them to puff up and burst. This process gelatinizes the starches present in the grains, making them more accessible to enzymes in the mash. However, torrified wheat does not contain the necessary enzymes for self-conversion.

2. Flavor and Color:
– Wheat malt: Wheat malt contributes a distinct grainy, bready flavor to the , adding a mild sweetness and a smooth mouthfeel. It also imparts a pale golden to light amber color, depending on the degree of malting.
– Torrified wheat: Torrified wheat does not contribute much flavor to the beer, as it is mainly used for its effect on head retention and mouthfeel. It adds a slight toasty and nutty character, but it is relatively neutral in taste. It also has a light golden color.

3. Usage in Brewing:
– Wheat malt: Wheat malt is commonly used as a base malt in wheat beers, such as German Hefeweizen or Belgian Witbier. It provides the characteristic grainy flavor and haze associated with these styles. It is also used in smaller amounts in other beer styles to enhance body, head retention, and mouthfeel.
– Torrified wheat: Torrified wheat is typically used in small quantities, usually between 5-10% of the grist, to improve head retention in beers. It helps create a stable and long-lasting foam, giving the beer a more visually appealing appearance.

Personal Experience:
In my brewing experience, I have used both torrified wheat and wheat malt in different recipes. When brewing a Hefeweizen, I found that using a significant portion of wheat malt (around 50%) resulted in a more pronounced wheat flavor and a cloudier appearance, which is desirable for this style. On the other hand, when brewing a pale , I added a small amount of torrified wheat (around 5%) to improve the head retention without significantly affecting the flavor profile.

To summarize, wheat malt provides both flavor and enzymatic properties, while torrified wheat mainly contributes to head retention and mouthfeel. The choice between the two depends on the desired outcome of the beer and the specific style being brewed.