The malting process takes about a week and the result often appears the same as the grain when at the beginning of the process, but in all actuality, a lot has changed. Malt is one of the main ingredients in beer, yet it is something the average beer drinker knows little about. Malt most commonly refers to malted barley, however many grains can be malted.
The objective of malting is to modify the food reserves inside grain kernels, from tough insoluble starches and proteins, into friable and extractable fermentables and enzymes. By closely controlling the three basic steps of the malting process (steeping, germinating and kilning) a maltster can impart a wide range of colours and flavours to their finished product.
"The seeds of plants, when placed under certain circumstances, undergo a change called Germination. The result of this change is, that the starch of fecula, contained by most seeds, receives new qualities; the most predominant of which are an increased degree of sweetness and a more complete and ready solubility in water of a given temperature. The business of the maltster is to arrange and govern the circumstances necessary to germination; also to obtain these qualities in the highest possible degree." - William Ford, Treatise on Malting and Brewing (London, 1862), pp 72-74
What?! In case the above explanation seemed like a bunch of gibberish: we take a bunch of grain (most commonly barley), deliberately start it growing, and at just the right time, stop it. This changes that grain into malt, something that makes amazing, delicious, thirst quenching beer.