The first of the three main parts of malting is to steep (soak) the grain in water. At BVCM we typically use the traditional triple immersion method which takes around 36 hours. This process wakes up the barley from its slumber and the grains soak up the water and begin to germinate.
Next we transfer the grain to our germination vessel. Here the grain is kept with a constant supply of fresh cool damp air. During the 5 or so days of germination the grain is breaking down its cell walls to access its starch reserves for growing and activating enzymes that are used to convert the starches to sugar.
Once the starch is available and enough enzymatic activity has been created it is time to stop the growing process so brewers can use the starch to make beer (or spirits) rather than it being used to grow a barley plant. This is done by blowing hot air (45C to 115C) through the malt. Kilning also has a large effect on the flavor profile of the malt and subsequent beer.