Estimating colour of homemade Specialty Malt.

Hello brewers,

In this post I will be explaining you the steps to estimate the colour (in degree Lovibond) of your homemade specialty malt and roasts. I was inspired by a fellow homebrewer, here in Pune, who had difficulties finding out the exact degree Lovibond of his homemade Crystal malt. I took it upon myself to create a method that others could follow to estimate the colour of their malts. It took a lot of reverse calculations and revisions before I came up with a Constant factor. To be true, it was bit of a headache. But Hey! It works for all malts now, be it pilsner, pale ale, crystal, roasted barley, chocolate or even black malt. Some brewers would not really bother to measure the colour of their malts, but in colour specific styles using the right malts can really mean a lot.

What you need.

  1. 5-20 grams of homemade malt (5 grams for dark malts like chocolate, black malt and roasted barley; 10 grams for medium malts like crystal and caramel series; 20 grams for malts like carapils, pilsner etc). Note the amount of grain used.
  2. 1 litre boiling kettle
  3. Grinder ( or Mixi as we call it)
  4. 1 test-tube / vial (preferably 25-50 ml capacity)
  5. SRM chart (given below)
  6. Natural light source ( preferably afternoon light from the window)

The Method

  • Accurately weigh your test malt and coarsely grind it. Fine powder should be avoided because it will cloud up the test-tube later on.
  • Heat 1L water up to 72 C. Add the test malt to this boiling water and steep for 10-15 mins.
  • Take the wort from the boiling kettle in a test tube and cool it. Wipe water off the test tube (if any)
  • Refer to the SRM chart. Hold the test tube against the natural light source and compare with your test wort.
  • Use SRM number that matches the colour of your test wort. eg : If you think that a colour lies between 5 and 6, use the number as 5.5 
  • Note down this SRM of your test wort.

The Calculations

First of, we need to calculate the Lovibond degrees of the wort.

L= Lovibond of test wort
g= amount of grain used

L = ( SRM of wort + 0.76) 

Then, substitute the value of L in the formula below

Degree Lovibond of malt = (121.6 x L)

(121.6 is the Constant I had to calculate.)

So brewers and future malsters, try using this formula and let me know how accurate it is.
In recipe designing apps, you can directly use the exact Lovibond degrees obtained from your calculations  or use the colour rating closest to it.

*I tried finding formulae on various websites but no hits came up.
If there is a similar formula somewhere on the internet, do inform me.*

Cheers till next time !!


  1. This is extreme homebrewing stuff !! You are not only making specialty malt, but also carefully rating it. Good work Proof Am.
    I hope I will get to making specialty malt soon.

    1. Cheers Sapan! Its absolutely necessary to accurately use these malts otherwise you can end up with a disaster batch. Either you'll make it overwhelmingly sweet or too dark or the body might get too thick.
      All these specialty malts are used in a range of 2-8% depending on what flavour profile you're looking for.
      It takes time! but definitely worth-it !


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