The Egyptians were brewing beer in 4000 BC and artifacts in the Cairo museum show that it had already evolved into a disciplined technology by the third millennium BC.

Originally malting was carried out on a small scale in small farms by steeping sacks of barley in streams or troughs, germination would then occur in the sack or trough and it would be kiln dried over a stove.

The making and selling of malts was often controlled, in Nurnberg in 1290 only barley was allowed to be malted, while in Augsberg between 1433 and 1550 beer was only to be made from malted oats. In England malt carried a tax for many years until 1880.

By 1588, European settlers in North America were trying to make beer from malted maize.

Beer can be brewed from a range of cereals, but by the 17th century beers brewed from barley malt predominated in Europe.

By the 17th century floor malting was the method being used to malt larger quantities. Floor malting was the only method of malting in use until the 1850’s. In floor malting, steeped barley is laid in piles on tiled or concrete floors and allowed to build up some heat and begin growth. The malt is turned manually with wooden shovels to reduce heat build up and aerate the grain. This method is very labor intensive and time consuming.

By the 19th century the development of large breweries led to the industrialization of malting and an increase in the size of production units. Pneumatic malting was developed and reached commercial success in the late 1800s. Two Belgian malting engineers; Galland and Saladin are considered to be the fathers of the modern malting equipment. Galland introduced the first aerated rectangular boxes in 1873 and Saladin introduced turning machines in 1880s. Saladin boxes are in common use today.

With the expansion of trade and the discovery of the New World, making beer from barley malt spread across the globe. Currently, approximately 1,400 million hectolitres of beer are brewed annually around the world.


Malts and Malting: Dennis E Briggs, 1998
Malt: A Practical Guide from Field to Brewhouse: John Mallett, 2014