Malt Extract

  • Malt is germinated cereal grains, usually barley, that have been dried out in a process known as “malting,” which allows enzymes to break down the grain’s complex sugars into simple sugars, such as maltose. The maltose is then consumed by yeast during the process of fermentation. Malt extract is a concentrated liquid or powdered form of malt used to make many beverages, such as beer, whisky, malted shakes and flavored drinks such as Horlicks and Ovaltine. It is also considered a dietary supplement and can provide some essential nutrients for your body.
  • Liquid malt extract is a thick syrup often used for brewing beer and making whisky. During the brewing process, yeast transforms the maltose sugars into alcohol through fermentation. According to “A Dictionary of Food and Nutrition” by David A. Bender, the benefit of using liquid malt extract instead of powdered forms for beer brewing is that it provides consistent fermentation and requires one less processing step. However, liquid extract is very sticky and messy to work with.
  • Dry malt extract is dried by a process that removes almost all the moisture content. The benefits of using powdered extract are its ease of use and measurement, less mess and clean-up and longer shelf life. Powdered malt extract is used for flavoring foods and beverages, such as malted shakes and ice cream, vinegars and beverages analogous to hot chocolate, such as Ovaltine.


  • Malt extract has been used as a nutritional supplement since the early part of the 20th century in Britain and other parts of Europe because it is a good source of some amino acids, vitamins and minerals, according to “Guide to Nutritional Supplements” by Benjamin Caballero. You can consume malt extract raw or on toast, but mixing it in water as a syrup or powder is usually preferred. Malt extract powder made from barley is somewhat sweet, but processed sugar is often added to it for additional sweetness in commercial products.
  • Malt extract beverages, especially powdered varieties, contain vitamins B2, B3, B6 and B12, iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, as well as some amino acids that can be used by your body to build protein, as detailed in the book “Superfoods: The Healthiest Foods on the Planet” by Tonia Reinhard. Drinking malt extract beverages at night might help you get to sleep more easily because of the mineral content, which relaxes your muscles. The maltose in malt extract is easy for your body to digest and provides a quick source of energy. B vitamins are needed for metabolism and energy production. Minerals are needed for normal muscle tone and strong bones.
  • Alcohol-based malt extract beverages, such as beer and whiskey, are much more dilute in terms of malt and contain far less mineral and vitamin content, but single malt whisky does contain more ellagic acid than red wine, according to “Prescription for Nutritional Healing” by Phyllis Balch. Ellagic acid is a powerful antioxidant that scavenges damaging free radicals.


Source: Dubois, Sirah; “The Benefits of Malt Extract Beverages”, 20 July 2011,

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