The 8 Best Substitutes For Aromatic Malt

What can I use instead of aromatic malt? The best substitutes for aromatic malt include other malts made with barley. Amber, Caramel, Munich, and Melanoidin offer rich color and full-bodied flavor, while biscuit, dextrin, pale ale, and Vienna malts enhance the complexity and aroma of the beer.

Aromatic malt gives beer a bold, slightly sweet flavor with notes of honey and raisins. Its complex sweetness is followed by a sour aftertaste, giving it a smooth, clean mouthfeel. If and when you battle to get hold of aromatic malt, you have 8 fantastic substitutes to choose from:

Amber Malt

British and bold, Amber malt makes a superb aromatic malt substitute for darker brews such as brown ales, old ales, mild ales, stouts, and porters.

Amber malt was the go-to for porters in the 1800s, often used as the base malt. This variety is back on the brewing scene thanks to the rising popularity of craft beer.

Modern amber malt is primarily used as a specialty for its bold color and flavor. After a second round of kilning, amber malt acquires its distinctive brownish-yellow, copper hue.

Amber malt differs slightly from aromatic malt in terms of flavor. While amber malt may possess a malty backbone, it lacks residual sweetness and offers a pronounced bready, biscuit-like taste and aroma.

Where aromatic malt has a broad usage range of 5 to 50%, you will only need 1 to 2% amber malt, and it should not exceed 5% usage.

Biscuit Malt

As Aromatic’s Belgian cousin, biscuit malt will give you the warm color, fragrant aroma, and complex flavor you are looking for.

This lightly toasted pale malt offers a warm bread, biscuit flavor, malty-sweet aroma, and a light, garnet-brown kiss of color to the finished beer.

As a result of no enzymes, Biscuit malt depends on other malts for diastatic power (the ability to convert starches into fermentable sugars).

Beer styles that pair superbly with biscuit malt include amber ales, IPA, brown ales, lagers, English, American, and Belgian ales.

Caramel Malt

If you’re looking for sweetness in your brew, caramel malt is the perfect substitute. This variety matches up to aromatic malt with its dried fruit, honey-like sweetness, and malty undertones. 

Similar to aromatic malt, it enhances foam, body, and mouthfeel. You can expect beautiful golden hues, a caramel aroma, and a residual sweetness with notes of burnt sugar, dried fruit, and toasted nuts.

A broad range of caramelized malts are created by varying the roasting length and temperature:

Carafoam, Carapils, Caramel 10, and Caramel 40 offer body, golden color, and subtle honey-like sweetness to beer- ideal for pilsners, pale ales and amber lagers,

Cara-Vienne and Caramel 60 (the most popular variety) offer a pronounced caramel flavor, toasty aroma, rich color and fuller body- perfect for porters and stouts.

Use sparingly, as excessive amounts give the beer a bitter, acrid astringency.

Dextrin Malt

Dextrin malt is the perfect alternative if your primary aim is to enhance the mouthfeel, body, and foam stability in most beers.

Known as American Carapils, this variety contributes very little color or flavor to beer because it is lightly kilned.

The lack of color and flavor makes dextrin malt a highly versatile and useful ingredient in a brewer’s arsenal.

It is important to note that dextrin malt needs to be mashed (soaked in hot water to break down the starches into fermentable proteins and sugars) for better solubility and to avoid starch haze in the beer.

Add dextrin malt to thin or watery beers to enhance viscosity. If you enjoy a fuller body beer with added foam, replace 2 to 3% of the base malt with dextrin.

Munich Malt

A high kilning temperature gives Munich malt a flavor profile that resembles aromatic malt.

This beloved German variety is prized for its pleasant aromatic flavor, high color rating, and body-enhancing properties. In essence, aromatic malt is a hybrid Munich malt

You can expect a rich malty, grainy flavor with hints of honey, toast, nuts, and bread.

Munich malt’s deep orange hue makes it an excellent choice for Munich-style lagers, German Bocks, or amber and darker brews like Oktoberfest or Märzen beers.

Nonetheless, Munich malt can be used in just about any brew that requires a touch of maltiness and aromatic undertones. Adjust ratios depending on the style of the beer.

Melanoidin Malt

Melanoidin is one of the top replacements for aromatic malt.

Fondly known as ‘Super Munich’ or ‘Munich on Steroids’, melanoidin is a highly underrated specialty malt that has a lot to offer when it comes to beer.

Melanoidin malt contributes similar characteristics to the Munich variety, only much bolder, with an intense malty flavor and aroma.

As a specialty product, it adds a malty taste without having to use larger amounts of base malts (Vienna and Munich).

With a malty backbone, use melanoidin sparingly to impart honey, fruity, and toasty flavors normally associated with aromatic malt. It also promotes a fuller body, smooth mouthfeel, and flavor stability to beer.

Melanoidin’s amber, red-brown hue, and bold character are perfect for Bocks, amber ales, or even Oktoberfest beers.

Pale Ale Malt

Not to be confused with regular pale malt, this variety undergoes additional kilning for enhanced color and full-bodied flavor.

Pale ale malt works exceptionally well as an aromatic malt alternative, contributing a deep golden color, malty aroma, and complex flavor notes of honey, biscuits, and nuts.

As a specialty base malt, pale ale malt is unique and remarkably versatile.

It can be used to balance hoppy beers or as a base (up to 100%) for most ales (IPAs, porters, English pale ales, and stouts) for robust body and flavor.

If you aim to achieve a similar flavor profile of aromatic malt, use around 10% or slightly more of pale ale malt in your brew.

Vienna Malt

Vienna malt is also produced with high kilning temperatures, but it is not exposed to the heat for as long as aromatic malt.

As a result, this variety has enzymatic power (the ability to convert starch into fermentable sugars), making it a perfect base malt candidate.

The shorter kilning time gives Vienna malt rich, aromatic characteristics. It has a warm, malty-sweet flavor with subtle hints of honey, toast, and nuts.

Vienna malt offers a body, light amber to deep copper color, and an incredibly clean finish to beer.

This widely admired base malt best suits classic Oktoberfest, Vienna, and Marzen beers. Vienna malt also works well for most beers that benefit from malty, complex flavors.