Friday 5 February 2016

SA malt

What is this SA malt?

South African? No

Strasserite? No

Strong or Stock Ale? Could be!

To answer this vexing question I turned once more to the JIB archive, searched for "stock ale malt", and sure enough I got a hit*. There's not a huge amount on it but this table of cost of malt per pound of extract is clear on the name:

Cost per lb. of extract.
English pale ale malt
English stock ale malt
English mild ale malt

So it's clear 'SA malt' stands for 'stock ale malt'. But that's not the end of the story. Oh no! I also did a search for 'strong ale malt', and that also got a hit**.

In describing some of his research Morris says:

"An English strong ale malt was taken, and a normal cold-water extract (100 grams malt to 250 c.c. water) made from it by digestion for three hours with constant stirring."

His work was still incomplete but he does shed some light on the nature of the malt:

"Now, before passing to the other constituents of beer, as shown by this method of analysis, a few words may be said on the practical value of the determination of these low type maltodextrins. It is very evident from what I have said that this constituent is fermentable without very great difficulty, and in this fairly ready fermentability lies a great danger. On the one hand, we require sufficient of this constituent in running and semi-stock ales to give an early after-fermentation, whilst, on the other hand, we have to guard against an excess, which would result in "fretting." In the summer, the highest permissible amount in beers of the above mentioned classes is 5 per cent, of the total wort-solids, and even this amount is liable, when combined with other influences, to give trouble. During the winter, the percentage may rise above 5 per cent, without trouble resulting, but even then it is not desirable to greatly exceed this amount. In stock ales it will usually be found that the percentage falls considerably below this standard, but this is of little importance since, before the beer is required to be sent out other influences, promoting secondary fermentation, come into play."

Speaking of unfermentable material he adds:

"That it was a product of the malting process was shown by the fact that it varied with different classes of malt and in the beers produced from them: badly modified and low-dried malts yielding comparatively little of it, well-modified and high-dried malts giving considerably above the average. Thus, in a Pilsener lager beer only 2.3 per cent, was found, whilst in a Burton strong ale this residue amounted to over 8 per cent, of the total wort-solids."

So SA malt was called both 'strong ale malt' and 'stock ale malt'. I suspect it was almost universally known by the initials, so no one was really certain what they stood for. The malt was less ecomomical to use than mild ale malt, but more economical than English pale ale malt. And it led to beers with a low degree of fermentability.

* The Analytical Control of Certain Brewing Materials. Baker, J.L. and Hulton, H.F. Journal of the Institute of Brewing, 1907.

**  The Analysis of Beer, with some Remarks on the Unfermentable Reducing Residue. Morris, G.M. Journal of the Institute of Brewing, 1894.


  1. Thanks for that Ed. I've long wondered about SA malt and had been able to find no details about it at all.