Monthly Archives: December 2016

Hulless barley, locally grown

Cedar Isle Farm

Cedar Isle Farm

Update: Jan. 3 the I.P.A. is clarifying! Brew day was Nov 28 2016. My new years resolution is to be more patient.

Update: Jan. 3 the I.P.A. is clarifying! Brew day was Nov 28 2016. My new years resolution is to be more patient.

I recently took a trip out to the Cedar Isle Farm in Agassiz B.C. to drop off some beer I made with the hulless barley they grew last summer. They were nice enough to give me 25 lbs. of CDC McGwire barley to play with – thanks again guys! The owners Diane and Jim farm 100 acres, 20 of which are dedicated to grain. They grow wheat, hulless oats, rye and now barley.One of the fields The farm is also organic and sell their grain using the Community Supported Agriculture model. You pay a membership fee which entitles you to a share of the season’s harvest. They also sell their grain to a local bakery called the Bread Affair which is used in their “100 mile” loaf. I’m looking forward to paying them a visit during the summer!

CDC McGwire is not ideal for malting due to it’s high beta glucan content. It’s more for general eating purposes. There are better hulless barley’s which were specifically bred for malting like CDC Explus or Taylor 6 but they’re not used in the industry probably due to the fact that they’re harder to work with – hulless barley sticks to everything. Not a big deal when you’re malting at home. I also read that this variety is very low in protein so I figured I’d skip the protein rest and add a beta glucan rest. Unfortunately this was a mistake as you can see in the video, the beer turned out pretty cloudy. The first batch of malt was also a pilsner malt which was undermodified so it was a bit of an amateur mistake on my part not to include the protein rest.

Yes we do get snow on the west coast.

Yes, we do get snow on the west coast.

The first beer was a Belgian Golden Strong ale which as the name implies comes in at 8% but it’s not boozy or hot. You wouldn’t know it’s as strong as it is based on the flavour. For this beer I also made a dextrin malt. The second beer is an I.P.A. and it’s full of  galaxy and citra hops. I also made a kind of munich malt from a pale malt which tastes remarkably like brown toast with honey. The flavour of this malt was masked by the hops but I’ll post more on this idea later.



Posted by on December 23, 2016 in Hulless barley


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Hulled Barley Stout


Velvety smooth, with rich chocolate notes and a toasty aroma, just thinking about it makes me want to open another one. It’s low in hops, very dark and quite dry. I wasn’t sure how this would turn out because of the low germination rate of the hulled barley but it turned out well. Hulled barley is barley that’s had it’s husk mechanically removed, which is different than hulless barley which refers to certain barley varieties that have a loose husk like wheat, that separates easily during harvesting. (More on hulless coming soon)  I thought hulled barley would be worth trying to malt since it’s often supplied in health food stores so it’s easier to find than regular barley. It’s also much better and cleaner than feed barley. The problem with it is that during the separation process many kernels get damaged and so the germination rate is low. I achieved an 80% rate with this batch so I took that into account when creating the recipe and factored in 20% of the base malt as raw barley. The advantage to using hulled barley is that without the husk you can make super smooth roasted malts. Roasted malts that are “debittered” are made with hulless or hulled barley. For this beer I also made a dark Munich with the hulled barley along with the roasted and pale malts. This beer is the perfect antidote to December shopping madness, but any beer is if you love shopping as much as I do. OG was 1.050 and the final gravity was pretty high at 1.017 for a 4.3% ABV. Here’s the recipe:

  • 6 lbs pale
  • 1.5 lbs raw barley
  • 1.75 lbs black patent
  • 2.43 lbs Munich
  • 1 lb Rice hulls
  • 1 oz. Goldings (5%) 60 min
  • 1 oz. Goldings 20 min
  • 1 oz Perle (8.2%) 10 min
  • 1 oz. Goldings 5 min
  • White Labs Irish ale yeast

Posted by on December 6, 2016 in Hulled Barley Malt


The Perfect Malt?

I recently read an interesting research article pointed out to me by Bleepbloop, thanks Bleepbloop! The article is from China and published in the Wiley Online Library by The Institute of Brewing and Distilling. The title is a doozy: “Optimization of kilning progress for equilibrating multiple parameters that strictly affect malt flavour and sensory evaluation” The researchers objective was to determine what times and temperatures create the “perfect malt”. Unfortunately, to read the whole thing you have to rent it for $6 but you can get the main idea from the summary.

In their experiments they measured the levels of  positive and negative flavour compounds in relation to drying times (referred to as withering time in the article) and curing time and temperature. The compounds they were measuring were lipid oxydation or LOX activity, nonenal potential, TBZ (content of carbonyl compounds) methional, furfural, hexanol and phenylacetaldehyde. All of which I believe contribute to either stale or cardboard flavours. They also measured levels of H-hydroxy-2,5-dimethyl-3(2H) or HDMF which is the main contributor to sweetness and malty aroma. As well malt samples were given a sensory score rated by 7 professional sensory panellists from the Tsingtao Brewery

After plotting their data they’ve concluded that the ideal drying time is 14 hours: 1 hr at 45C, 5 hrs. at 55C, 5 hrs. at 65C, 3 hrs at 76C, 50% re-used air at 76C. Note: given the high temperatures I’m assuming that these would be the kiln temperatures below the bed or the “air-on” temperatures. Curing temperature is 86.35C for 3.19 hours.

Most of the article describes their methodology and what kind of testing was used for each flavour compound and it doesn’t go into that much detail about the effects of each compound. They also specify that these results would be different for different varieties of barley. The variety they were using was Gairdner barley grown in Australia. There is a lot of information in this article I don’t understand but the conclusion is interesting. I wish they had included the malt temperature during the kilning because without it, it’s impossible to replicate exactly. I do wonder how detectable these flavours are and at what point are they noticeable? The curing temperatures tested ranged from 84C to 90C, curing times ranges from 2.5-3.5 hours and drying times measured ranged from 10-14 hours. Not a wide range at all, in fact, they kind of seem on the low end of the scale. Unfortunately, there was no mention of diastatic power in the article as the study just focussed on flavour and there was no mention of moisture contents. I also find it strange that they did not include the kilning schedules for the 10 and 12 hour kilned malts. Are we to assume that the temperature increases coincided with the same moisture contents in each sample? There seems to be some key information missing here that would have made this article more useful.

This research paper makes me wonder if “perfect” is something that is worth achieving or does this goal bring with it the risk of industrial uniformity. It still seems to me that there are enough variables involved that what is considered perfect is still subjective. Of course, it’s interesting to see what is at play when making malt and it’s good to know that  the levels of those flavour compounds that cause stale or cardboard flavours are measurable. However, I have never noticed these flavours in my malts so it’s not something I’ve ever worried about. I have tried this schedule with my barley, knowing that I couldn’t actually replicate their conditions without using the same equipment, and I found I needed another hour or two curing time to become more friable, meaning my malt was not dry enough. As it was, the roots were still a little flexible and hard to shake off. It would be interesting to see this same experiment done on a greater scale, that is with wider temperature and kilning time ranges. I’m sure for large scale maltsters this is a useful article but for myself I think I prefer variety, good or bad. The best beer I’ve ever had was the pale ale I made from the diastatic brown malt that was dried over fire, very far from scientifically “perfect” I’m sure but beyond perfect in my mind.


Posted by on December 2, 2016 in Uncategorized


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