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When you start looking into older recipes from the UK and Europe, you may notice that those recipes call for the same ingredient: torrified wheat. Usually, the amount is quite small, almost negligible, so do you really need torrified wheat for those English Ales? The answer is yes. In fact, there are plenty of reasons why you should consider adding torrified wheat to your next home brew. This torrified wheat buyer’s guide will tell you everything you need to know about this ingredient, including how and where to buy it.
What is Torrified Wheat?
Also seen as “torrefied” wheat in the UK, this is any kind of wheat that has been torrified. What does that mean? Let’s take a moment to cycle back to the malting process, which involves steeping, germinating, and kilning the grains you want to use. During this period, the wheat grows, or germinates, which allows for special enzymes to start breaking down the cellular walls of the seed. This makes the starches inside the wheat more accessible.
That is how you get malted wheat.
Torrefication is the exact opposite. To be succinct, unmalted wheat is sent through a heated treatment that exposes the grains to 752-779°F (400-415°C) for about 30-40 seconds. This generally does to wheat what the germination process begins—the cell walls break down. But torrefication does not stop there. The wheat grain expands in the heat, forming a ball.
The end result is wheat that has been “pre-gelatinized,” making it easier to flake or crush and add to a mash. That is how you get torrified wheat. And yes, you can also find other torrified grains to use as adjuncts!
The following video explains torrified wheat and also shows you a quick way to produce your own:
What is the Purpose of Torrified Wheat?
In most cases, torrified wheat is an adjunct that assists with appearance—head retention—as well as mouthfeel. The flavor of torrified wheat is subtle, almost non-existent. Therefore, it can be used in almost any kind of beer recipe without affecting the flavor. The reason why torrified wheat affects head retention and not the flavor is due to the torrefication process. Furthermore, wheat has much more protein than barley. When added to beer, torrified wheat can stabilize the foam and give a beer more body.
What’s the Difference Between Torrified Wheat and Wheat Malt?
Essentially, torrified wheat and wheat malt are made of the same stuff but are entirely different. The processing the wheat goes through transforms both ingredients. Malted wheat gains new flavors through the kilning process. Instead of being heated at extreme temperatures, wheat malt is slowly, lovingly cured in warm air. Because of that, wheat malt is smoother, creamier, and adds a light flavor to whatever beer it is added into.
Torrified wheat, on the other hand, is exposed to such intense levels of heat so briefly that there is zero development in flavor. In fact, it is neutral. Instead, torrified wheat contributes something else to the beer—mouthfeel, depth, and head retention.
You can also compare torrified wheat and wheat malt by their enzyme content. Due to how wheat malt is kilned, it contains a minimum of 400 DPWK of enzymes. Torrified wheat, however, has zero due to the torrefication process. Because of that, you need to use base malts alongside torrified wheat, as they are necessary for breaking down the starches and starting the conversion to sugar.
When Should You Use Torrified Wheat?
Ultimately, when you use torrified wheat is up to you. Do you want your home brew to have a ton of head retention and depth? You can use torrified wheat for Brown Ales, NEIPAs, witbiers, weizen, and other beers. For example, if a recipe is calling for 15% malted wheat and 10% oat malt, you can swap in 5% torrified wheat for more body.
The main thing to keep in mind is the enzymes when making a wheat beer. When you use torrified wheat, it could drop the diastatic power. Thus, you may need more malt in the grist.
But what if you don’t want to make a wheat beer? What if more head is your goal? In that case, add about 5-10% torrified wheat to the brew.
How Much Torrified Wheat Do You Need?
It is highly recommended that you use a maximum of 10% torrified wheat in any recipe. For larger batches, 8% torrified wheat in the grist is ideal. Most of the time, this balances out the body of the beer, adding just enough head and lacing to make every sip a joy. However, when you are making German wheat beers or witbiers, it is common to see torrified wheat make up about 40% of the grain bill.
Are There Torrified Wheat Substitutes?
Yes, there are torrified wheat substitutes out there. You may have heard of it already: flaked wheat. Both torrified wheat and flaked wheat are similar, as they are pre-gelatinized and raw. Neither will affect the flavor of your home brew too much, and both ingredients assist with head retention, mouthfeel, and depth. You can add flaked or torrified wheat directly to the mash, as well.
Where To Buy Torrified Wheat?
Looking for places to get your hands on some torrified wheat for your home brews? This buyer’s guide wouldn’t be complete without these recommended places:
- MoreBeer Torrified Wheat: Available in 1, 5, and 50 pound bags. MoreBeer also offers free shipping for most orders.
- Northern Brewer Crisp English Torrified Wheat: Choose between crushed and unmilled bags of torrified wheat. If you are in the UK, you can potentially order straight from Crisp.
- Yakima Valley Hops Torrified Wheat: Milled or whole options available. Get your torrified wheat at the same time you buy your aromatic and bittering hops.
- Label Peelers Briess Torrified Red Wheat Malt: Discounted option that is available in crushed and unmilled.
Ready to Torrify Your Beer?
There you have it—everything you need to know about torrified wheat. Now that you know how and why to use torrified wheat, be sure to check one of the recommended sites to get your hands on some. You could also try making your own. Next time you brew up some beer, don’t forget to drop some torrified wheat into the mash and let us know if you get more head retention!
The main difference between wheat malt and torrified wheat is the kind of processing. Malted wheat is allowed to germinate, produce enzymes, and is then exposed to low heat to develop the flavor. Torrified wheat undergoes a high-temperature treatment that puffs it up.
Torrified wheat is used to add protein to beer, which contributes to body and foam stabilization, as well as balance for haze.
The best torrified wheat substitute is flaked wheat, as they are both pre-gelatinized and raw.
Flaked wheat is often raw, unmalted wheat that has been crushed to expose the starch inside. Torrified wheat is exposed to extremely high temperatures very quickly. Both are pre-gelatinized and raw. Torrified wheat, however, is easier to crush and flake.
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