Closeup Chocolate Malt

Chocolate Malt


Chocolate malt is a dark roasted malt that contributes complex roast flavors similar to unsweetened chocolate and coffee. When paired with sweet crystal malts and other sources of nonfermenting sugars it produces a sweet chocolate effect. It contributes a rich dark color, and it is an invaluable ingredient in many dark ales. It is frequently used to make minor color adjustments in many styles of ale and some styles of lager.

In small amounts, chocolate malt produces a very mild roast character that is warm and nutty, along with a disproportionately strong color contribution. More substantial amounts will produce the canonical cocoa, semi-sweet chocolate, and rich roasted coffee flavors. The roasting process used to produce coffee and chocolate is essentially the same as that used to produce chocolate malt. In some cases dark roast grains are produced in repurposed coffee roasting drums.

Chocolate malt is the lightest of the dark roasted grains (also includes black patent malt and black roasted barley). Chocolate malt is produced in a way that is very similar to black malt, but it is kilned for shorter duration producing lighter colored malt, around 350 degrees Lovibond as opposed to around 500 Lovibond. Consequently, chocolate malt has milder flavors, and it is often used more generously. Although, large quantities of chocolate malt will start to produce acrid flavors rather than simply intensifying the chocolate flavors.

This specialty malt can be utilized in a number of divergent roles. Like all dark grains, chocolate malt will lower the mash pH. Chocolate malt is often used to fill in the middle range of roast flavors. Compared with black malt and black barley it is less sharp and burnt, but it is often used in conjunction with those grains to provide a strong foundation of rounded roast flavors with the others producing the accent note. In this role chocolate malt will often be two to four times more abundant in the grain bill than the darker grains. On the other hand, minor additions, around one to four ounces in a five gallon batch, will darken the color from amber to brown.

More than most malts, chocolate malt encompasses a wide range of varied products. Generally there is very little information published on individual brands of malt beyond a Lovibond range and a few other statistics. Some brands of chocolate malt are as pale as 180 degrees Lovibond and some as dark as 450, so descriptors like dark chocolate and light/pale chocolate are relatively common. Many British and American maltsters produce a version of chocolate malt. The basic British chocolate malt tends to be roasted a little darker and produce roast flavors that are thought to be a little smoother. Although there are plenty of darker American versions and paler British versions that contradict this trend. In the end, degrees Lovibond are an incomplete measure that ignores many important issues like details of the malting process and the breed of barley used.

Chocolate malts are also produced from other grains. Chocolate wheat malt and chocolate rye malt are both available.

Beer Styles

Chocolate malt is a key ingredient in most porter subtypes. In robust porters this malt is nearly ubiquitous. Large amounts (5 to 10 percent of the grist) are often used to smooth out the robust flavors of black malt into a harmonious whole with the rest of the beer. For brown porters chocolate malt is often the darkest malt in the recipe. In these smooth malty porters, chocolate malt makes a more subtle contribution. For Baltic porters, it is optional and sometimes replaced with debittered black malts or other roast malts with more in line with the German brewing tradition. In Baltic porters the use of sweeter more assertive basemalts like Munich and Vienna means that chocolate malt tends to take on a less central role even when included.

Stouts often use chocolate malt for as much as 10 percent of the grain bill. In stouts, as in their ancestor robust porter, chocolate malt adds essential depth and complexity to the spectrum of roast flavors. It is particularly popular in sweeter and maltier examples of stout, where chocolate flavors compliment the sweetness. In dry stouts, the extra complexity of chocolate malt would in general distract from a crisp dry presentation. While dry stouts often exclude it, milk stouts and oatmeal stouts nearly always make use of it. American stouts and export strength stouts, defined primarily by extra hopiness and extra ABV respectively, can both be made in a wide range from sweeter to drier. Recipes for Russian imperial stout often include chocolate malt, but usually less than 8 percent since the quantity of chocolate malt does not scale linearly with original gravity.

Many brown ales would not actually be brown without some color contribution from chocolate malt. In these low hopped ales, chocolate malt helps to balance the ample crystal malt sweetness. Skillful usage of chocolate malt is an essential source of the nutty flavors sometimes found in Northern English brown ales. Extremely pale versions of chocolate malt are produced specifically for brewing dark English milds.

Chocolate malt sees some use in minute quantities in many dark lagers for color adjustment. It is used in dunkels and dark bocks. It is generally not used in oktoberfests or dunkelweizens which get their color from large amounts of Munich malt. It is also notably absent from dark Scottish and Irish ales which tend to favor black roasted barley for color adjustments. Increasingly, it is being replaced by bitterless roast malts for these purposes.

Malt Analysis

Extract Potential 1.025 - 1.030
Color (°L) 350 - 400
DPLin) 0
Protein (%) 11 - 13


  1. "Brewing with Chocolate Malt: Tips from the Pros." Brew Your Own Magazine. March/April 2002. Web. 7 April 2014. ‹›.
  2. "2008 BJCP Style Guidelines." Beer Judge Certification Program. 2008. Web. 7 April 2014. ‹›.
  3. "Briess Dark Roasted Malts." Briess Malt and Ingredient Company. n.d. Web. 7 March 2014. ‹›.