They Put A Spelt In It

It may generally be noted that there are very few beers brewed with grains other than the so-called “big six”: barley, wheat, rye, oats, corn, rice. At least that’s the case nowadays. For a decade or so we’ve seen two more emerge, for allergy-related reasons (gluten): sorghum and buckwheat. There is one left: spelt.

Closely related to wheat, spelt is often called an “ancient grain,” for it has remained unchanged for centuries. Following some “technical redefinitions,” wheat — easier to harvest — gained preference. Popularized as a health food beginning a few years ago, spelt is beginning to win over consumers again (although it’s not gluten-free) after being rediscovered — and probably even saved from disappearing — in the 1980s.

In terms of brewing, we can find spelt in two types of beers: Saison and Alternative Grain Beers. In terms of flavour, spelt is similar to wheat, but has a more toasted and nutty aspect, as well as acidulous notes.

Our example of the day is this 4.9%-ABV Schalchner 5-Korn, from the Weissbräu Schwendl, located in Tacherting (Bavaria, Germany) which started brewing in 1935. Named a “special beer” by its creators (für hochwertige qualität und hervorragendem geschmack —  “for high quality and great taste”), it’s a mixture of wheat, barley, rye, oats, and spelt.

It’s a beer with a roasted aroma, a slightly sweet taste, a weak bitterness, and a short finish. A beer that tastes of the end of summer, if I may say so. Not spectacular, but interesting precisely for its nutty character. Perfect as an introduction to the subject.