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What's the difference between 2-row and 6-row malt?

I've been brewing all-grain for several years, but have been using recipes and kits. I'm starting to develop my own recipes, using the process outlined in "Designing Great Beers" by Ray Daniels, but it's not clear to me what the difference is between 2-row and 6-row base malt. When should I use one vs. the other? What are the advantages or disadvantages of each?

  • I think this is a dupe of homebrew.stackexchange.com/q/367/93
    – G__
    Apr 3, 2011 at 20:01
  • Not part of the question, but be careful of following the guidelines in DGB too closely. It's a great book, but it was written quite a while ago and we have access to much broader range of ingredients these days. A lot of the recipes you see in it would be much different if they were formulated today.
    – Denny Conn
    Apr 3, 2011 at 21:14
  • Thanks for the advice Denny - I mostly find the book useful because of the process, (I'm an engineer, so I'm very comfortable with the mathematically-based recipe design system Daniels lays out) and the analysis of different beer styles in the back. I also just picked up "Extreme Brewing" by Sam Calagione, and will try to pull some of that wisdom into my recipes too.
    – Germ
    Apr 3, 2011 at 22:35

1 Answer 1


In general, most recipes are written for 2 row pale malt as the base. 6 row has more husk material and tastes a little "grainier". In years past, 6 row was used mainly as a base in NAILs due to its higher diastatic power, which helped convert the adjuncts used in those beers. Today's 2 row malts have almost as much diastatic power as 6 row, so that's no longer the main reason to use 6 row. The main uses of it are when you want the extra husks' material to aid in lautering huskless adjuncts (although there are other ways to do that) or for the slightly grainier flavor, which is typical of styles like CAP or ALL. Usually, you'll want to use 2 row malt for your base.

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