Abstract Several grain and malt quality tests were applied to 22 sorghum cultivars, 17 with a white or yellow pericarp and five with brown grain. Significant differences between cultivars were found in all cases. The yellow- and white-grained sorghums showed a relationship between milling energy and both extract and grain nitrogen content, although significant correlations were not observed when all cultivars were analysed. The reduction in milling energy due to malting correlated significantly with the amount of nitrogen extracted, leading to a close relationship between soluble nitrogen ratio and malt milling energy, especially in white and yellow sorghums. All white- and yellow-grained cultivars, with high levels of extract, showed a higher grinding resistance for a given level of milling energy. This may derive from a greater degree of starch damage during milling, facilitating solubilisation of starch and partly overcoming problems associated with poor endosperm modification during malting and high gelatinisation temperature of unmodified starch granules.