What is malt?

To create malt for brewers and distillers, the most important ingredient is malting barley, which is a cereal grain. Barley was one of the world’s first cultivated cereals, used in ancient Egypt and Syria to make bread and beer. Barley malt is made through a process known as “malting”. This consists of three phases: firstly, the barley is washed and soaked in water to start the germination process. The second phase involves the actual sprouting or “germination” of the barley grains. And thirdly: the sprouted grains are dried to stop the germination process.

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emission free malt house (2024 onwards)
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malting barley sustainably sourced
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malt types and variations

What is malt? Get to know ours

Holland Malt offers premium pilsner, organic, distilling and wheat malts. We have extensive experience in producing a wide range of specialty and craft malts.

From barley to malt


Steeping for 24 hours

The answer to what is malt, starts with the malting process. Firstly, soaking the barley grains for 24 hours in a steeping vessel. During this time, air is blown through the vessel (the steep) to add oxygen to the water and provide a washing effect. Sand, dirt, and mould-infested kernels are washed away leaving only the clean kernels. After approximately 24 hours, the barley begins to sprout, and the grain is then transferred to the germination floor.


Germination period of five and a half days

After the grains have been soaked, the moist barley is spread out and allowed to germinate in a warm, well-lit environment. During this process the sprouting barley produces heat. To control this temperature, the barley must be turned regularly. Historically, this was done by hand, but these days it’s by mechanical turners. The modern techniques we use, such as cooling devices and fan-assisted aeration, give us perfect control over the malting process. This means a germination time of five and a half days.


Drying the sprouted grains

Once germination is complete, the grain is loaded onto the kiln floor. There, the temperature increases gradually, drying the sprouted grains and stopping the germination process. As the temperature rises further, the sprouted barley is cured, which improves the flavour and preserves the malt. Holland Malt only uses state-of-the-art computerised kilns, ensuring maximum quality control.

Our malt houses

  • Sustainable
  • Mass production
  • Hypermodern

Plant Eemshaven

State-of-the-art maltings. Excellent logistics and perfect for large quantities of barley.

  • Local
  • Specialised malt
  • Crafmanship

Plant Lieshout

We have been producing malt in Lieshout for over a hundred years.

Our successful sister company

Holland Malt has a sister company, CereX, a global player in natural malt extracts and compounds. The company has substantial experience in malting, brewing, soft drinks and extract production, using ultra-modern equipment.

Go to Cerex website