Does malted barley have fat like un-malted barley?

If either have fat, why doesn't this cause problems in the beer? What happens with this fat during the brew?

2 Answers 2


Since this question keeps getting bumped, I thought I'd have a go at it. Here are a few relevant points from the literature.

Malt has slightly less fat than unmalted barley:

"Up to 4% of the dry weight of barley is lipid and 3.4% in the case of malt." (corn and oats may both reach 6+%)

"30% of the lipid content of barley grains disappear[s] during germination."

To give you an idea of what happens to this fat during the brew:

"[Lipids] tend to associate with insoluble components of the mash, and therefore they are largely lost with the spent grains and become associated with hot and cold breaks."

"Rapid wort-separation techniques are liable to give worts containing elevated levels of lipids"

"The method of separation of sweet wort from spent grains has the most significant effect on wort lipid content [...] just 0.3% [of malt lipids are released into the wort] in the case of a mash tun." (Up to 4.5% of malt lipids can make it into the wort in rapid-separation systems)

"[Up to] 91% of wort lipids in the [boil] were deposited with the trub in the whirlpool"

From breweries surveyed, total lipid content of worts ranged from 10-140 ppm, depending on the wort separation method.

(quotes taken from Brewing Yeast and Fermentation, Scientific Principles of Malting and Brewing and Malts and Malting)

So you can see how little of the fat content tends to make it into the wort from raw materials, and most of that is eliminated before fermentation.

  • Nice! Could it be applied to others starch sources like oats ?
    – Luciano
    Feb 18, 2015 at 23:44
  • I think so because unless you're adding higher-fat adjuncts in really weird places in the brew they should have the same interactions with the mash solids and break-forming materials during the process as the malt does. It seems logical that higher-fat adjuncts will lead to proportionally higher wort lipids. I think the real point is the impact is minimized enough by the process that it is only minorly consequential. Feb 19, 2015 at 2:19

Neither has a discernible amount of fat. Unlike oats. With oats the fat lends to the creaminess you taste in say oatmeal stouts.

  • But, what about the foam ? Aren't the fats responsible for low foam or foam with a low durability ?
    – Luciano
    Jul 23, 2014 at 17:25
  • That's right. Fats will destabilise the bubbles in the head and cause it to collapse. If your question is in regards to me mentioning oatmeal, most of those beers normally have thin heads. Jul 23, 2014 at 21:15
  • Well, I was confused now. In some beers is recommended to add a little amount of oat to increase the foam head. Why if the oat can reduce it ? Is there a break-even ?
    – Luciano
    Jul 23, 2014 at 21:43
  • 1
    Are you sure by increase you mean size not density? I've found oats usually give you a nice creamy, dense head. Jul 23, 2014 at 22:04
  • Interesting. But, I would like to know more about the paper of fats in beers. Like adding nuts, and others sources of fats. I guess that there may have a threshold when the amount of fat can eliminate the foam. Am I sure ?
    – Luciano
    Jul 24, 2014 at 15:11

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