We get a lot of questions from brewers asking:
“What is the difference between torrefied and malted wheat?”, “Can I replace malted wheat with torrefied wheat?” or
“When should I use torrefied wheat and when should I use malted wheat?”
This post will share some knowledge of the two wheat types and ensure you can get the best out of them!
You might already know this, through an Institute of Brewing and Distilling (IBD) course or maybe you’ve visited us in the past. The malting process has three stages; steeping, germinating and kilning.
These three stages allow the wheat to grow in a controlled environment, which activates enzymes and breaks down the cell walls making the starch accessible.
If you’d like a quick refresher on the malting process, have a quick read of this useful page.
In brief, raw wheat is passed through a fluidised bed of hot air at temperatures between 400°C to 415°C. After about 30 to 40 seconds, the cell walls of the wheat disrupt, the grain expands, and tiny little wheat footballs are formed.
The torrefied wheat is now pre-gelatinised, so you just need to crush or flake it before adding it to the mash.
The two types of wheat are fundamentally different because of the process they go through.
In malted wheat, the flavour compounds are developed during the kilning process where the grain is delicately slow cured through passing streams of warm air. The result is a deliciously creamy, refreshingly light and doughy tasting wheat malt.
In comparison, the torrefied wheat experiences quite the opposite. It is heated quickly with intensity and so there is little development when it comes to taste. What we get is a rather grainy and clean flavour.
Both the torrefied wheat and the wheat malt are high in protein. Why? Well, because they are made from wheat, and wheat is generally high in protein compared to malting barley. The protein in wheat, at between 5 to 10% usage (or as a combination of both types accumulating up to 10%) will aid head formation and retention and develop body to your beer.
What has this got to do with the flavour of torrefied wheat? The clean flavour from the torrefied wheat makes it quite a neutral flavour. The added depth and mouthfeel it contributes to the beer, without imparting any distinct wheat malt flavours, allows you to enhance and showcase the flavours from your other ingredients.
The high protein in wheat also contributes to haze, so which one is better for a hazy IPA? It’s not necessarily a straightforward answer, because there are so many factors and ingredients which influence haze. The best bit of advice I can give you is to contact a member of our technical sales team and collaborate on a specific solution for you.
However, if we only compare torrefied wheat and wheat malt, we need to look back at the process again. In the malting process, the protein “matrix” is specifically broken down to allow access to starch. This doesn’t really happen in the torrefication process as the cell walls essentially pop, leaving us with larger molecular proteins. The result leaves torrefied wheat with higher molecular proteins compared to malted wheat. Bigger and better is not always a good thing, these bigger proteins are great for an initial haze, but will soon drop out of the liquid as they don’t tend to float for very long. The wheat malt will have smaller proteins that have been broken down and will be much better for a permanent haze. The downside is that it won’t be as hazy as the torrefied wheat. In a hazy IPA, you might want to use a mix of the two with other cereals, like oats, at around 25%. Our NEIPA recipe consists of 15% Malted Wheat and 10% Naked Oat Malt, but you could easily swap in 5% of Torrefied Wheat into that mix.
Another fundamental difference between the two types of wheat is the enzyme content. Wheat malt has enzymes (min. 400 DPWK) due to the gentle nature at which they are kilned. In contrast the torrefied wheat does not have enzymes because of the very high temperatures reached in the torrefication process. You can find the diastatic power on the wheat malt on the certificate of analysis. If it’s not on yours, just get in touch with your maltster, tell them the batch number and they should be able to get it for you.
The lack of enzymes in torrefied wheat means it is reliant on getting the enzymes from your base malts, and the main reason why we suggest our upper limit for usage is 40%. The enzymes are needed to breakdown the starch in the mash and convert these into sugars.
With enzymes available in wheat malt, you could potentially use a little more. In our Malt Handbook, we suggest usage of 50 to 55%. Just remember that the wheat is huskless, so be careful as this will impact your run-off. If using more than 50%, you might want to consider using a filtering aid.
Ultimately, it comes down to what you are trying to achieve in the final beer and personal preference. We’ve established in this post that the flavour profiles are different, so just remember that the more you use of either wheat, the more that flavour will stand out in the final beer.
When creating a wheat beer and choosing between the two, just make sure you have enough enzymes required to convert the starches in the mash. If using torrefied wheat, the diastatic power will need to be made up with other malts used in the grist. We can guide you through recipe development and help calculate this, along with efficiency, mash programs, temperatures and timings.
But maybe you aren’t making a wheat beer and you just want to improve the head formation and add body to your beer? At lower percentage levels of 5 to 10%, there isn’t a lot in it. I’d go with the cheapest, but that’s just me.
Finally, with haze it really comes down to how you balance the weight of molecular proteins from all the ingredients in your recipe. It doesn’t necessarily come down to if you use malted wheat over torrefied wheat, or vice versa. Understanding how each one plays a role in influencing haze is important and should help you find that desired balance for a permanent and aesthetically juicy haze!