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Sep 18, 2008 11:11 AM

Malt in homebrewery: Diastatic or Non-?

Does anyone know if the malt powder used in homebrew beer is diastatic or non-diastatic?

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  1. It's been a while for me, but unless something has changed, it's diastatic if it says as much on the label, and otherwise it's probably not.

    1. I've seen both- usually it states whether it has any diastatic power right on the label. The only ones I recall seeing that were explicitly 'diastatic' are some of the British malt syrups. The amylase enzymes are broken down at around 168F and stop converting starch at that time- they are of no use if you are just going to add the extract to the boil. The normal procedure is to dilute your extract, boil it, add your hops and you're on your way- the extract normally doesn't even make contract with grains (unless you are steeping a pound or two along with the diluted extract held at a certain temperature- which is probably what the diastatic malt syrup is used for. But, then again, the grain has its own diastitic power so why would you need the extract to begin with?...) Anyway, it's not a common product but it is available. You can also buy amylase powder, which is also handy if you are mashing with a large amount of adjuncts like rice- again, very uncommon amongst homebrewers, fwiw. The term DME stands for Dried Malt Extract.

      3 Replies
      1. re: TongoRad

        Thanks! Good information. I think you answered my question (and more) -- I want the non-diastatic powder for bread and bagel making (sweetener and flavor), and it sounds like it is used the same way for beer.

        1. re: Allmodcons

          No problem- good luck with the bagels.

          Now you've got me wondering if it matters if you used the diastatic type, though. The starch-to-sugar conversion requires a spcific temperature range at a certain pH, as well as time- are the conditions really conducive to that sort of thing during the baking process, enough to make a significant difference? I'm not a baker, so I can't say for sure, but it just doesn't seem likely to me.

          1. re: TongoRad

            Some bread doughs do use diastatic, in very small amounts, as a dough conditioner/activator. But in bagels and pretzels and similar, non-diastatic functions like any sweetener as a yeast food, but also adds a desirable characteristic flavor.

      2. Non. You need cracked malted barley. Extracts are boiled and kill any DP potential. Unless it is added back, which is nasty. If you are looking at conversion, go for malted barley, and crack it properly.