Malt Cup expands to four categories in 2023!

Pale Malt, Pilsen, Light Munich, and Vienna

Entry submission window runs from September 19 through October 17, 2022

The Malt Cup is a one-of-a-kind competition that allows maltsters the opportunity to receive valuable feedback on their malt products. It’s not only a chance to win accolades, but it also provides the following substantial rewards.

  • All samples entered receive a malt Certificate of Analysis (CoA) report from Montana State University’s Barley, Malt, & Brewing Quality Lab. Alone, this certificate is valued at over $100.
  • Entrants also get a full report of all entry COAs for categories that they enter. This is given with blind codes so entries can be found and compared to the rest of the group (Note: All entries remain anonymous.).
  • Entries passing the scrutiny of round one go on to sensory evaluation. These samples are sent around the country to industry professionals including maltsters, brewers, distillers, researchers, and Master Cicerones. Judges evaluate malts in replicate via DraughtLab. A comprehensive sensory report is then generated for each of these malts and provided to entrants post-competition!
  • Should an entry make it to the third round, Best of Show, entrants receive additional feedback from industry judges as they examine malts in consideration of both sensory and quality data.

Nowhere else can are maltsters able to get this level of feedback for their malt. Everyone is a winner in this competition – and some get some bragging rights to boot!

Intent of Competition 

The Guild’s overarching goals with the Malt Cup are as follows:

  • To enhance the quality of craft malt by providing entrants constructive feedback on the quality and flavor of their malt. 
  • To recognize Craft Maltsters Guild members who exemplify the Guild’s mission of upholding the highest quality standards. 
  • To provide the malting industry with a recognized, credible malt flavor, and quality mark.

Entry Guidelines

  • Any Craft Maltsters Guild Member Malthouse, Allied Trade, or International Malthouse member in good standing may enter. The cost of entry is $150 for Member/International Malthouses and $300 for Allied Trade. Not a member? Join here.
  • Limit one entry per malthouse per category.
  • There is no limit to the number of entries accepted per category.
  • Entry timeline: The entry submission window will open Monday, September 19, 2022, and run through 3 PM Mountain Time Monday, October 17, 2022. Samples will not be accepted past this deadline!
  • How to enter:  All participants must e-mail [email protected]com with their intent to submit one or more entries. This communication must include categories to be entered, product name(s), and the variety or varieties utilized for each submission. Once this info has been submitted, entrants will be emailed blind code/s for entries and further details for shipping.
  • Entry fee payment: Entrants will be invoiced for entry fees after their entry submission information has been received. Payment will be accepted via credit card or PayPal transfer. All entry fees must be paid in full by the submission deadline or entries will be forfeited.
  • Submission deadline:  Entries will only be accepted through 3 PM Monday, October 17, 2022, with no exceptions. If any questions come up about the sample arrival timeline entrants must provide shipping information to assist with tracking packages.
  • Malthouses must send a sample of 3 pounds of malt per entry to the below address:

Montana State University
ATTN: Hannah Turner
Malt Quality Lab
119 Plant Bioscience Building
Bozeman, MT 59717-3150

*Please note this address may not be recognized by local post, but it is the correct street address used by FedEx and UPS. If using USPS, use P.O. Box 173150 as the delivery address.

  • Each entry must be affixed with the approved competition label with no other identifying information (return label on mail packaging is acceptable). 
  • Malt submissions must be a regularly produced and commercially available product from your malthouse as of October 17, 2022.

Malt Style Categories

For 2023, the malt categories will be Pale Malt, Pilsen, Light Munich, and Vienna.

Guidelines and judging criteria are based on average examples of these styles found in craft malt and are set and approved by the Guild’s board of directors, and are as follows: 

*Descriptions are adapted from John Mallett’s “Malt: A Practical Guide from Field to Brewhouse.”

Pale Malt

Pale Malt is a generic term covering a broad class of light-colored base malts. “Pale” malt has moderate modification and enzyme potential. The term “lager malt” may also be used to describe these malts. In comparison to Pilsen malt, pale exhibits a deeper malt flavor. 

Color: 1.6 – 2.5 SRM

Entries will be evaluated based on the following guidelines:

  • Pale Malt entries should be high in extract and enzyme capacity as well as low in B-glucan, all concurrent with well-balanced modification.
  • Malts should also be moderate for S/T and FAN.
  • Moisture shall not exceed 6%.


Pilsen malt is a base malt designed for very pale, all-malt beers. Traditional Pilsner malt production includes the use of low protein barley, lower modification during germination, and low temperature, high airflow kilning. 

Color: 1.2 – 2.0 SRM

Entries will be evaluated based on the following guidelines:

  • Malts should be very pale in color with moderate enzyme potential, and a distinctive flavor that is a little green with the smell and taste of fresh wort.
  • DMS flavor is considered acceptable at low levels.
  • Moisture shall not exceed 6%.

Light Munich

Light Munich malts have a restrained but often elegant character with lower enzymatic potential but are still sufficient to convert a mash when used at 100%. Munich is typically the flavor that comes to mind when drinkers think of maltiness.

Color: 9.0 – 11.0 SRM

Entries will be evaluated based on the following guidelines:

  • Light Munich malts should have moderate extract, FAN, and sufficient enzyme capacity to self-convert when utilized in high percentages in a brewers grist bill.
  • Malts should be well modified with low B-glucan.
  • Moisture shall not exceed 6%.


Vienna malt imparts a rich orange color to beer. The flavor of traditional Marzen beer comes from liberal use of this malt. In contrast to most crystal malts, use of Vienna results in a beer with a refreshing, dry finish. The flavor is slightly toasty, and slightly nutty. Although Vienna malt has significant flavor complexity, it is not cloying or overbearing when mashed sufficiently.

Color:  4.0-6.0 SRM

Entries will be evaluated based on the following guidelines:

  • Vienna malt has sufficient enzymatic power to convert up to 100% of the grist.
  • Malts should be moderate for S/T and FAN.
  • Moisture shall not exceed 6%.

Judging Methodology

  • The evaluation will take place over several phases. The first will be quality, based on COAs provided by the Malt Quality Lab at Montana State University. Entries will be scored according to the criteria outlined above. All entrants will receive a full copy of the quality report, generated from this process (entries named by blind code only). Malts passing the quality criteria will move to the second phase, a sensory analysis performed remotely by qualified malt sensory ambassadors and utilizing the DraughtLab app. All entries that have advanced to the second round will receive a sensory report. The top malts will move forward to a final Best of Show judging round which will be performed in person just prior to the 2023 Craft Malt Conference in Portland, ME. Final judging will include sensory evaluation and consideration of malt COAs. Best of Show Judges are provided with style guidelines and anonymously record constructive observations on scorecards which will be provided back to malthouse entrants.
  • Entries will be assigned a blind entry number to maintain anonymity. Judges will not be able to identify malthouse entrants by any means.
  • Entrants and/or their employees may not serve as volunteers or judges of categories entered. 
  • Judges will come to a consensus on the highest quality malts for each category based on scoring criteria set by the board of directors. 
  • Awards will be given for first, second, and third places in each malt category. Honorable mentions or other accolades may be awarded at the judges’ discretion. Gold Medal malts from each category will be eligible for the traveling Best of Show Malt Cup. This distinction will be awarded to the Gold Medal malt accumulating the most points across all three rounds of judging.
  • Winners will be announced on the evening of Friday, March 17 during the 2023 Craft Malt Conference Awards Ceremony and Reception Dinner.

Learn more about what it’s like to be a Malt Cup judge.

Maltster Testimonials

“I really think this gives credibility to the products that we are making.  It elevates our operation and excites customers by using the best raw materials for their own operation.  We have seen an increase in sales related to our winning products but most importantly it secures a level of trust between partners.  We have something tangible to prove that we are making the best products we can.  The Malt Cup truly excites me to achieve more and challenge us to make the best products we can.”

~ Mike Meyers, Root Shoot Malting

“As a relatively young malt house in the Southeast, we believe the ability to showcase a medal from the 2019 Malt Cup afforded us a newfound credibility in potential customers’ eyes. We are humbled by the opportunity to amicably compete alongside the many talented malt houses in this guild.”

~ Mark van Wagenberg, Carolina Malt House

“I see the true benefits in ongoing malt quality testing and the Malt Cup gives us unique comparative analysis which is the value of the competition. Winning is nice but the value is in the data comparison and a sense on how we are doing among our peers regardless of who that peer actually is.”

~ Sebastian Wolfrum, Epiphany Craft Malt

Many thanks to the volunteer judges and industry partners who make this competition possible!