I'm working up a recipe based on the Deschutes Black Butte Porter clone recipe from The Jamil Show podcast.

Their recipe calls for both English and American chocolate malt. I'm having a hard time finding information about the difference between the two varieties.

The two closest LHBS's to me only carry a single "chocolate malt", without an indication of origin, but given that I live in Seattle I expect it's the American malt. When I asked one of the shopkeepers about the difference he didn't know and couldn't find any relevant information on his bookshelf.

The only source of info on the difference I have is that having plugged the recipe into Hopville, the English chocolate comes up with PPG of 24, and the unmarked (assumed American) chocolate comes up as 34. My assumption, therefore, is that the American version has more starches that will convert and is possibly roasted less than the English version. But I'm just guessing at that, and it doesn't tell me much about the difference anyway.

My plan is to just substitute the American malt for the English malt. It's small enough quantities that it probably won't make a huge difference, but it would still be nice to know more about the English malt and if there is a better substitution.

  • It just occurred to me to look up the malts at an online HBS. Northern Brewer's English chocolate malt is listed as 375-450L, and they have a Briess organic chocolate malt at 350L. The descriptions suggest more color and roasted flavor, possibly bittersweet, from the English malt, which makes sense. Still, I'd like to get other input, especially suggestions or confirmation on substitutions for the English malt. Jul 5, 2012 at 19:28
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    You could contact the author, Jamil, ask why he uses two kinds of chocolate malt, to get it from the source why two different types are necessary. Although they are different, I doubt they are much more different than chocolate malt from two different maltsters in the same country.
    – mdma
    Jul 5, 2012 at 23:08
  • @mdma: depends on the level of roast... two 350L roasts would probably taste pretty similar, but a 350L and a 450L would provide slightly different characteristics.
    – baka
    Jul 6, 2012 at 0:31
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    I agree there's difference in principle, but I'm still amazed at how people try to peg so much on science and numbers, it simply is not that accurate. the SRM measures just the color - says only a small amount about flavor. two maltsters can produce malt with the same color and very different flavor.
    – mdma
    Jul 6, 2012 at 1:01
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    I'm sure Jamil has better things to do than answer my questions. :P In any case, the recipe was by one of his co-hosts. In the end I did more research, found that the "homebrew recipe" Deschutes posted (deschutesbrewery.com/recipe/black-butte-porter-clone) only mentions chocolate wheat, not chocolate malts, and that other people working with the podcast recipe have had the same quandary. Based on that I replaced the English chocolate malt in the recipe with chocolate wheat; left the American chocolate for depth. It may not be a perfect clone, but it will be beer. I brew today. Jul 7, 2012 at 16:42

3 Answers 3


English chocolate malt provides color with more smoothness and less roast character than typical US chocolate malt. Brewery.org says this on it's malt 101 page

Chocolate Malt - ( Brown malt) 400 L

British Chocolate malt is ideal for British Porters and Brown or Mild Ales and even Stouts. It's a little darker than domestic Chocolate malt yet it has a slightly smoother character in the roast flavor and aroma profiles. Highly recommended.

  • Thanks, mdma. This doesn't tell me as much as I want to know, but it tells me at least that the difference is based on overall malting procedure and is not limited to the level of roast. I think for a more thorough answer we'd have to start an in-depth discussion on malting. Jul 7, 2012 at 16:36
  • Just an FYI to avoid confusion, in the US Brown malt and chocolate malt are two different things. So if you are searching for one or the other do not get them confused.
    – brewchez
    Jul 9, 2012 at 10:54

Really hard to tell the difference just based on Lovibond.. You can have 2 different 350L US chocolate malt that taste very different to each other. Reason being 350L only tells you the finished darkness of the malt, but it does not tell you how its kilned ie, short time in high heat, or long time in a staggered temperature schedule. It all makes a big difference!!!

But rule of thumb is the UK chocolate malts have a more pronounced chocolate and nutty taste than the US ones. Its also kiln darker. Seems to me most of my favourite american craft stouts and porters uses UK maltsters for their chocolate and roasted or black barley, with thomas fawcett being the highest rated


Great details stored here: https://byo.com/mead/item/456-chocolate-malt

"There are a few different versions of chocolate malt on the market, ranging anywhere from the pale stuff (at around 200 °L) to the dark English (~500 °L). Using a broad brush, the English versions are usually the darkest and the American versions the lightest. Whichever you choose, be sure to account for the differing degree of color (as rated in degrees Lovibond) because 1.0 lb. (0.45 kg) of chocolate malt at 400 °L yields a different color in 5 gallons (19 L) of beer than than 1.0 lb. (0.45 kg) at 500 °L. British chocolate malt is made from 2-row malt while domestic chocolate may be made from either 2-row or 6-row malt. If you have a preference for 2-row, as I do, check the malt specifications."

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