Maris Otter Malt Guide

Maris Otter Malt Guide: How to Brew With Maris Otter

In our Maris Otter Malt guide, we will find out everything there is to know about this Classic English malt that has rebounded in popularity.

Maris Otter Malt was used extensively from the 1960s to the 1990s, and it has found a resurgence in recent years as it offers vibrant flavors to create crisp and refreshing ales and beers.

We will explore the history of Maris Otter, how to brew beer with this malt, and we will also look at different malt and hop varieties that can be used with Maris Otter to create fantastic tasting ales.

Key Features of Maris Otter Malt

  • Flavor: Mildly malty, nutty flavor. Hints of biscuit.
  • Aroma: English ale
  • Color: Low color (2.5 – 3.3°L)
  • Best For: American Ales, IPAs, Amber Ales, Stouts

What is Maris Otter Malt?


Maris Otter Malt is used in many traditional English bitters and ales and has become a firm favorite malt worldwide.

The barley was initially bred in Cambridge in 1965 by Dr. GDH Bell to produce a high-quality malt for the ale market. Two different breeds were crossbred to produce Maris Otter (Pioneer and Proctor), and this malt has become a staple base malt of bitters and pale ales.

The barley almost disappeared in the 1990s as demand began to dwindle; however, H. Banham Ltd and Robin Appel Ltd bought the brand’s rights and began growing this barley again. Initially, this was for commercial use, but the popularity of Maris Otter has risen again, and it is now used as a common homebrewing ingredient.

Maris Otter is a very beginner-friendly malt as it matures quickly after harvest and poses few processing problems. In fact, Marris Otter is one of the only barleys that was bred purely for its ability to make great-tasting brews, and it’s very light color is ideal for crisp and refreshing ales.

Some well-known beers and ales that use Maris Otter Malt include:

  • Hardcore IPA from BrewDog
  • Thornbridge Wild Raven from Thornbridge Brewery
  • Wee Heavy Scotch Ale from AleSmith Brewing Company

Flavor Profile

Maris Otter is known for giving off a vibrant malty flavor. However, many people find that this malt gives off a typically English ale aroma, and there can be hints of biscuit when brewing with Maris Otter.

Given its light complexion, it is used to create light and refreshing beers and ales; however, Maris Otter is often used in darker brews such as stouts to contract these drinks’ richer and deeper flavor.

How to Brew with Maris Otter Malt

Maris Otter is a traditional English malt, and it is one of the most beginner-friendly malt types to use.

When to add Maris Otter Malt

Maris Otter malt can be utilized as a base malt due to its high diastatic power, low nitrogen content alongside high extract.

Up to 100% of Maris Otter Malt can be used, which is in stark contrast to many darker malts that we have profiles, including most Crystal Malts and Munich Malt.

Storing Maris Otter Malt

Maris Otter Malt, like most malts, can be easily stored at home.

Because Maris Otter is a base malt, it should be good to use for around a year if you keep it in the correct storage conditions. You should store the malt in an air-tight container or a Ziploc bag, in a cool, dry place, and out of direct sunlight. Also, ensure that the environment is odor-free as malt can absorb odors which will spoil its taste, although as long as it is in a sealed container, this shouldn’t be an issue.

Malt should be kept at a temperature lower than 59°F (15°C).

Complimentary Malt Varieties

Maris Otter Malt can be used alongside other malts and hops to create some fantastic brews.

This malt is generally utilized as a base malt in many English Bitters and ales. For example, Thornbridge Wild Raven uses Maris Otter Malt in conjunction with Centennial hops, which have an earthy and floral aroma with some mild citrus. You could also use more powerful hops like Citra or Amarillo to create a light and refreshing ale with a stronger taste profile.

Many brewers use Maris Otter with darker malts as the light nature of Maris Otter will help to balance out the dark and more decadent flavors. Darker Crystal Malts are ideal for this purpose. BrewDog’s Hardcore IPA effectively combines Maris Otter with Crystal Malt and hops such as Centennial, Colombus, and Simcoe.

Other ingredients that are commonly used with Maris Otter to create pale English ales include East Kent Goldings (often used as a flameout addition), Challenger, Amber malt, and roasted barley malts.

Malt Analysis

Color 2.5 – 3.3°L (5.5 – 7.5 EBC)
Moisture content 3.5%
Extract (DBFG) 81%
Total Protein 9.69%
Usage Up to 100%
Friability 90%

Maris Otter Malt – Alternatives

If you do want to substitute Maris Otter malt for something else, there are different malts that you can use. Even though Maris Otter is popular again and widely available to buy, these malts can act as an alternative.

Fawcett English Pearl Malt

Fawcett English Pearl Malt

One of the closest malts to Maris Otter is Fawcett English Pearl Malt from Northern Brewer. This malt has a light complexion and is found in many English and Scottish ales and beers. It provides more of a bready flavor than Maris Otter, and Fawcett English Pearl Malt can also be used as a base malt. This historic malt – the Fawcett family has been making malt since the 18th century – has an EBC of 5 – 7, so it is perfect for lighter-colored brews.

Golden Promise Malt

Golden Promise is another malt that is commonly used as an alternative to Maris Otter. This malt is made from barley grown in Scotland and is ideal for pale ales and other light colors brews. Golden Promise has a sweet finish with hints of caramel and biscuit and provides a nice body and aroma. It can be used as a base malt with up to 100% usage, while many homebrewers have combined the same hops as with Maris Otter, such as Centennial, Cascade, Simcoe, and Citra.

Halcyon Pale Ale Malt

Another malt that can be used as an alternative to Maris Otter is Halcyon Pale Ale Malt. This malt provides a standard color (4 – 6 EBC), and it works nicely for lightly colored brews and refreshing ales, bitters, and lagers. Halcyon Malt is a classic English malt that has been used in many pale ales and gives off a slightly sweet flavor, and it can work as a base malt with up to 100% usage.

Optic Pale Malt

Optic Pale Malt

Optic Malt is another traditional English malt that can work great in light-colored beers, ales, and bitters. It offers a lighter flavor than Fawcett English Pearl Malt with hints of biscuit and a 4.5 EBC. This malt can also be used as a base malt. Exmoor Gold is an excellent example of a well-known ale that uses Optic Malt, while many homebrewers find great success with this malt alongside various refreshing hops.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What does Maris Otter Malt taste like?

Answer: Maris Otter malt has a rich malty flavor, which is why it is often used in many English bitters. You can get notes of biscuit from this malt, and it provides a light and crisp finish.

Question: What brews use Maris Otter Malt?

Answer: Marris Otter Malt is often used in English Bitters and Pale Ales due to its light color and crisp finish. Some well-known ales that use Maris Otter to significant effect include Hardcore IPA from BrewDog, Thornbridge Wild Raven from Thornbridge Brewery, and the Wee Heavy Scotch Ale from AleSmith Brewing Company.

Question: Is Maris Otter Malt a base malt?

Answer: Yes. Mariss Otter Malt can be used as a base malt as it has high diastatic power, low nitrogen content alongside high extract. You can use up to 100% of Maris Otter in your homebrews.

Question: Is Maris Otter good for IPA?

Answer: Yes. Maris Otter Malt can be used to brew IPAs as it has a light and pale color, although it does have a lower extract yield than some other pale malts. Many brewers use Maris Otter with various hops, such as Citra, Simcoe, and Amarillo, to create great IPAs.

Question: How do I store Maris Otter Malt?

Answer: It is straightforward to store Maris Otter Malt correctly as long as you keep it in an air-tight container or Ziploc back and store it in a cool, dry location away from direct sunlight. Maris Otter should keep for up to 12 months. You should also store the malt at a temperature lower than 59°F (15°C).

Question: Where can you buy Maris Otter Malt?

Answer: Maris Otter Malt has seen a resurgence in recent years. While its fame died away in the 1990s, it is now back again as a very popular malt for homebrewers and for commercial purposes. We recommend going for Brewmaster Maris Otter Pale Ale Malt as it can be used in various ales, beers, and IPAs.

Final Thoughts

Maris Otter Malt is back, and it is a common malt in various beers, ales, and English bitters after its notoriety died away a few decades ago. This malt is ideal for creating a light and crisp finish to many drinks, and you can also use it to contrast darker malts in stouts and heavier brews.

This is a fantastic base malt that you can begin experimenting with and join the thousands of homebrewers who use this Maris Otter to great effect.

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