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About

Welcome, this blog is dedicated to the art and science of growing malting and brewing your own beer.  I’ve been a homebrewer and gardener for years and finally my two favorite hobbies have merged into one big all consuming obsession, to brew beer with barley and hops that I’ve grown myself. Why bother? you may ask when you can buy a 50lb bag of malt for $30. There are plenty of reasons, it’s fun (yes I have a strange idea of fun) I like learning the science behind things (especially beer) and maybe because you can get 50 lbs of malt for $30. Is it wrong to think that this is too cheap? Thanks for visiting and I hope you enjoy reading these posts as much as I’ve enjoyed making them.

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63 responses to “About

  1. jacobiblack

    August 23, 2012 at 10:12 am

    Hey Francois!.. In a short while I will be moving to a house that actually has a garden! I’m very excited indeed and very keen to get a veg patch on the grow! I have a small amount of experience growing my own veg in the past and have been entertaining the idea of growing my own hops and barley this time round too. I’m a dab hand in the kitchen (used to be a chef) but I’ll admit that I’ve never attempted to make my own beer. However, what I lack in experience I make up for in blind optimism! Plus the idea of having the resources in my backyard is more than appealing to me! Any advice for a complete beginner??

    Thanks for your time!
    Keep up the good work!

    Rob ^-^

     
    • jfdyment

      August 23, 2012 at 4:56 pm

      Hey Rob! As far as growing goes 800 sq. ft. will produce approximately 50lbs of grain which will give you 20 gallons of beer, but when you’re laying out your garden remember to plan for crop rotation, you don’t want to keep growing barley in the same spot. I would highly suggest remay row covers as well after you plant your seeds until the plants come up, to discourage birds. Also, I planted Robust barley in the fall and lost All my current crop of nearly ripened barley to birds in the spring (upcoming video) There isn’t much food around at this time of the year so the birds will go after anything. Planting in the spring to ripen in the fall works better in our area. Basically do anything you can to discourage pests like birds rats mice etc. When growing such small amounts you can’t afford to loose any. As far as brewing goes, if you’ve never brewed an all grain batch just be prepared to make some awesome beer! Also be prepared to have a lot of equipment – mash tuns, fermentors, burners etc, the sky is the limit. The beers I made in these videos where very small, 1-2 gallons each. Brewing small has pros and cons. The pros being smaller equipment, and the ability to make them on your stove top. The bad part is with small batches is there is a greater risk of contamination since the volume of beer to surface/air contact is greater. This year had I not lost my entire crop I would have only made specialty malts, these were a lot of fun to experiment with and I ended up with some very unique and flavourful malts. Best of luck and keep us posted!

       
  2. Henry

    August 24, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    Francois, as a fellow home brewer and aspiring “hard” brewer, I was curious to know what kind of quality/consistency you’ve been able to come up with by malting your own. Have you brewed a beer made with commercial malts and your own malts for comparison? Did you, or do you have to alter your recipes for the malt you’ve made, i.e. efficiency levels and/or flavor contribution. You might have touched on this (I have more of your blog to read) but I am very interested in following in your footsteps and commend the work you’ve done thus far. Keep up the good work!

    -Henry

     
    • jfdyment

      August 24, 2012 at 4:04 pm

      Hi Henry, I think the main difference with the malts I made and commercial malts was the conversion times. Mine took longer to convert probably due to being slightly undermodified. As far as quality of beer goes I entered all 5 beers in a local home-brewing competition (video about the results is coming soon). Most of my faults had to do with my brewing practices ie. sanitation/ oxidation. The Golden Strong however won 1st place for it’s category. I’ve posted all the recipes so you can check them out.

       
  3. SouthCreekBrewer

    April 23, 2013 at 1:06 am

    Just ordered my first pound of robust to plant on about 480 sq ft of ground. Also starting cascade and centennial. Excited to find another scratch brewer!

     
    • jfdyment

      April 23, 2013 at 2:23 pm

      That’s awesome I hope you make some videos, it’s always good to compare notes. Cheers!

       
  4. Arlyn

    May 30, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    Curious as to the source of your barley seed and the varieties. Thanks AW

     
    • jfdyment

      June 1, 2013 at 6:39 am

      Hi Arlyn, I’m growing Conlon and Robust this year. I’ve added some seed sources on the “malting resource” page. Cheers

       
  5. Jeremy Stocks

    January 3, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    Hi there! I was interested to read your blog! I live in Bavaria, Germany, and ironically the variety of beer here is declining, as breweries amalgamate and the range gets narrower.

    i have some hops growing in my garden and usually some Americans from Munich come down in October to take my hops for brewing. this year however they couldn’t make it so I began researching methods of beermaking and I like you malted my own barley”Grace” variety from a local farm supplier. I fermented it with some hops and made a beer which is drinkable but not that nice…yet.

    I need to blog about the attempt some time soon!

     
    • jfdyment

      January 3, 2014 at 5:03 pm

      Oh no, Bavaria of all places! Your blog post about the Grampus is hilarious. I also thought your post about malting was very interesting, I like the water bath method for the caramel malt, that’s a good idea. I just bottled the diastatic brown malt porter and I’ll write a post about it soon, the taste is quite unique. Francois

       
  6. Jeremy Stocks

    January 3, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    Here, you may be interested to read what we foreign expats think of what is happening to German beer. I am to be honest bored of supermarket German beer. It always tastes the same.

    http://www.toytowngermany.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=147210

     
    • jfdyment

      January 3, 2014 at 9:22 pm

      I had no idea German brewing was heading in such a sad direction. As a fan of craft beers I think owning a small brewery in any German town would be a dream job. The “local” movement is still going strong here, a lot of local breweries are using hops grown in the Fraser Valley. There are even a few micro-malt houses that have opened in the states.

       
  7. Jeremy Stocks

    January 3, 2014 at 11:33 pm

    No! My small town Holzkirchen has also been taken over by a larger company. I have the feeling the real innovation in what we eat and drink – the so called food revolution – is actually taking place in the country many Europeans think as being so unhealthy – you very own America!

    I have lived here 13 years and let me tell you Germany is like some cog spinning with Germans as hamsters within – every year is the same here. They never take risks, they never do anything new. The irony is that most of the books which have influenced me the last few years – Michael Pollan (food), Sando Ellix Katz (fermentation), Toby Hemmenway (permaculture), Michael Ruhlman (food) – get the connection? they are ALL American!

     
  8. Jonathan

    February 5, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    Great site! I’m in the South of France but English. I grow all my own hops and malt my own barley. I have a 3 keg 40 litre all grain setup. Your site is really useful and informative, so I am having a good read with a beer, cheers!

     
    • jfdyment

      February 5, 2014 at 3:20 pm

      Hi Jonathan thanks for the comments! I’d love to see some pictures, what kind of hops do you grow?

       
    • Jeremy Stocks

      February 5, 2014 at 4:04 pm

      Hiya! I’d also love to see some pictures of your operation! I see you are in Provence! I am in southern Germany. How did you set your brewery up?

       
  9. Ed

    February 26, 2014 at 1:42 am

    I just found your blog and its great. I love when I find that other people have already done the crazy things that I was thinking of: it saves me the time of actually doing them myself! 🙂 You are in Vancouver? Have you ever brewed with the Granville Island hops? Do you ever go to any Vanbrewers club meetings? I’d love to talk to you about your malting!

     
    • jfdyment

      February 26, 2014 at 2:34 am

      Hi Ed! – thanks for the comments – too funny. If you mean those hops that grow by the pedestrian overpass, I did pick some one year but they were so small and pale I didn’t use them. That spot doesn’t get a lot of light but I have heard of people using them. I compared the acid levels with a pH meter to store bought hops and they were very low. I live in Langley now which is too far for me to go to the Vanbrewers meetings, looks like fun though, are you a member?

       
      • Ed

        February 27, 2014 at 5:10 am

        I live near those hops and I haven’t brewed with them either. I’ve grown cascade and willamette the last 3 years and I’ve only brewed with them a couple times as I wasn’t happy with the quality and they have full sunlight. The club meetings are great. Its too bad you can’t make it out. You’ll never find a better group of obsessed people to nerd-out about brewing with!

         
  10. Alex

    February 28, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    Francois, I’ve been experimenting with home malting over the past year. The beer’s I’ve produced all develop a vegetal off flavor. I’m thinking it is DMS, have you encountered this? My next batch I’m going to increase my boil time from 60 minuted to 3 hours to see.

    Here is what I do with my set up. The barley is feed barley from a farm here in Wisconsin, not prime malting barley but the price is right…free. I soak the grains for 6-8 hours and then drain and leave out for 6-8 hours and repeat until they start chitting out. Next I’ve got a modifying bin they go into until the acrspire is 3/4 to full. To dry the malt I build an oast using 3 removable screen shelves inside a wooden box with the front of it on hinges to allow access. 3 lightbulbs provide heat for the oast and a box fan sends air across the screen shelves. It doesn’t get up to 80-90 in my oast but the green malt dries out in a day or so pretty well. Next I roast it in my over at about 175 F for 8 hours.

    Anyway your blog has been a great help, any advise on what I’m doing right/wrong and how I can improve my home malt-aside from using malting barley.

     
    • jfdyment

      March 1, 2014 at 3:54 am

      Hi Alex, sounds like bacterial contamination at some point in the process, are you malting below 16C or 60F? Do you notice any strange odours when you are kilning? It sounds like you have a good set up and you’re roasting the malt for a long time so I’d be surprised if it’s your malt. Infected malt really stinks, you would notice it if it was. I guess your best bet is to eliminate all the factors that may promote contamination even in the brewing process. What is your modifying bin made of? If it’s plastic you may want to sanitize it. I have tried feed barley and the stuff I got was so dirty I can’t imagine where they were storing it, I malted it at room temperature and it stunk up the house for days, smelled like a barnyard. You can’t be too careful with bacteria, I’ve been brewing for 20 years and I think I have good sanitation practices but it can still be an issue, it doesn’t take much, the last yeast starter I made I had to chuck because it was contaminated. I might get a better idea if you make a youtube video of your process, you can always privatize it if you don’t want it public. Best of luck, Francois

       
  11. Alex

    March 1, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    I’m malting in my basement which stays around 58-64 F. When I kiln the grains it smells a little like mashing but not as strong, I haven’t had any strong odors coming from the grains in any of the stages from seed to malt. You are right about the dirty feed barley. I try to rinse it really well before I start the soaks. I’m going to try a small batch of malt at a longer boil after the mash is done today and see if it is just DMS that didn’t get released during the boil. I do use a plastic bin for modifying so I’ll start sanitizing it between batches.

    Making a few video’s is a good Idea. If I get it done I’ll drop a link to them on here.

     
  12. Matt Maz

    March 4, 2014 at 5:26 am

    Hello Francois, I’ve been following you for a little while now and I have a query. I see that you’ve done a smoked malt, but have you thought of trying a peated malt? I’ve been toying with the idea of using a peated malt in my brewing (I’m a huge fan of heavily peated scotch) but can’t get anything up in Northern B.C. The obvious solution, at least to me, is to try and make some myself. Any tips, tricks, or pointers would be appreciated.

    Anyway, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this blog, keep up the good work. Incidentally, I’ll be growing some of my own barley this summer. We have a short growing period so I’m going with some Robust, and I’m trying a small amount of Harrington in my greenhouse and outside. We’ll see how it goes…

     
    • jfdyment

      March 4, 2014 at 5:29 pm

      Hi Matt, thanks for the kind words and yes I have thought of doing a peated malt, it’s on the list. The challenge for me is getting the peat without digging a hole in someone’s backyard, or not getting arrested for suspicion of digging a hole to dump a body. The peat that you want is the deeper more compressed stuff and not the loose stuff on top that’s used for gardening. You’ve probably seen these already but here are a few very informative youtube links
      <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDmgqXcWzd8 "

      <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufwvFOXUCnc&quot;

      In the Highland Park video he mentions burning at 60 C for 18 hrs with peat for the first stage. I wouldn't go this hot at home where you probably wouldn't have as much control over the temperature and your malt bed is not a foot and a half thick. If your malt gets too hot (over 50C when the moisture is over 10%) you may destroy the enzymes. I think the best way to dry green malt at such a low temperature is with an offset smoker of some kind, there are plenty of ways to do this, it's the same process as cold smoking meat. You just don't want the fire directly under the malt as it would get too hot. You can also smoke malt starting with a finished pale or pilsner malt, just soak it in water for an hour or two and then smoke it. Let me know how it turns out. Cheers Francois

       
      • Matt Maz

        March 5, 2014 at 5:06 am

        Thanks!

        Yes, that Highland Park video was helpful. I have a smoker which was deliberately built tall. It’s about 6.5-7 feet tall, with the fire box being right at the bottom. I generally use charcoal as a heat source and use wood shavings as the smoking material. I figure to change out the shavings for peat. I can get some fairly consistent temps by adjusting the height of my smoking product with this method. The smoker is about a foot wide by a foot in depth. I think I can get two trays at roughly the same temperature-ish.

        I like the suggestion of starting with finished pale malt. I can experiment with small batches and see where that takes me.

        Now, obtaining peat… That’s another question. I know I can find some, it’s just a question of if I need a permit and, if so, which one?

         
  13. jfdyment

    March 5, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    In most garden stores they have peat pellets, made by compressing the loser surface sphagnum moss. They’re used for starting seeds. If you can find some without added fertilizer or lime they might be worth experimenting with. I’m surrounded by peat bogs here in the Lower Mainland which were all harvested for peat at one time, there’s Burn’s bog, Langley bog and a big chunk of Richmond is peat bog. They’re all mostly protected areas now. You can still see the rows that were carved out of them in ariel photos.

     
  14. Jazphx

    July 21, 2014 at 1:45 am

    I recently found some good malting info in the book Brewing, science and practice (2004). Found a PDF online of it and has a very good chapter on malting. Descriptions on making Vienna, Munich, Brumalt, and more. Worth checking out.

     
    • jfdyment

      July 23, 2014 at 4:46 pm

      Jazphx – Wow, great find! Thanks for this, I’ll include it on my resources page.

       
  15. Edward

    November 2, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    Hey, are you going to the Ron Pattinson event in Vancouver? http://www.vanbrewers.ca/archives/7557

     
    • jfdyment

      November 2, 2014 at 6:27 pm

      Whoa! I am now, thanks for the notice Edward!

       
  16. Edward

    November 3, 2014 at 7:40 am

    If you have any beers with homemade brown malt, bring them! I’m sure he’ll want to try them and me too:)

     
    • jfdyment

      November 3, 2014 at 11:33 pm

      I wish I still had some, that would have been nice. They went really fast, coincidentally I’ll be making more brown malt tomorrow. I’m planning to make 5, 1/2 lb sample batches to see how dark I can go with it. Cheers!

       
  17. Jazphx

    November 14, 2014 at 1:26 am

    Here is some stuff I found on Briess’s website/blog:
    http://www.brewingwithbriess.com/blog/part-iv-do-you-like-yours-kilned-roasted-or-both/

    http://www.brewingwithbriess.com/blog/is-it-crystal-or-caramel-malt/

    I’m going to take a shot at grown some Conlon this year and make some malt. Maybe.

    This is a great website. Keep up the good work!

     
    • jfdyment

      November 14, 2014 at 1:45 am

      Hi Jazphx, thanks for the links I’ll be sure to put them on my reference section. Happy malting!

       
  18. Curtis

    December 18, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    Hello Francois,

    I have a nanobrewery (3 bbl system) in Ecuador. In my past homebrewing, I learned to make my own malts, and had built my own gas fired oven for drying and roasting. As I increased my brewing volume, I decided to increase my malting volume as well. The main reason is that I appreciate the fresh malted and roasted flavors that infuse my beers.

    I am attempting to design and build a working miniature model of an olde english malt kiln. When I say miniature, I am planning for it to be able to dry and kiln approximately 100 pounds of malt, or be loaded with 150 pounds of green malt for drying. This is a pilot project, and if successful, I will next attempt to make a similar kiln with a 500 pound capacity.

    Because the combustion gases actually pass through the grain to heat and dry it, I am considering the use of charcoal fuel because it burns cleaner than wood. It is readily available here, and of good quality made from hardwood. It comes in chunks up to 15 cm dimension, but is easily broken up.I understand that this will give me some smoke flavors, but I am hoping that I like the effect on my finished beer.

    I am a huge fan of rocket stoves for their efficiency in combustion, so I would like to use a rocket type burner configuration. The kiln must burn for 12 plus hours continuously, so I am thinking of a self feeding design which can burn without much attention over a period of up to 4 to 5 hours between loading if that is possible.

    Do you have any advice, or can you refer me to online resources that would be helpful to me in the design of my little project?

     
    • jfdyment

      December 19, 2014 at 12:16 am

      Hi Curtis, wow you’re living my dream. A rocket stove is a great idea as it does burn off secondary gases – so less smoke and I imagine you can control the heat with the oxygen intake. You can also use the exhaust piping to your advantage to disperse the heat indirectly as well, so you could potentially control the amount of smoke the malt is exposed to. I just tasted my 1804 porter and it’s not smokey at all, I was kind of disappointed. This is because I air dried this malt initially and as you know most of the smoke flavours happen when the malt is wet during the early stages of drying. Early malt kilns were very simple in their design and consisted of a furnace, a hot air chamber to disperse the heat, the floor (sometimes 2 or 3) and the flue in which fans were later mounted to help the draught. What you’ll have to determine is the amount of space needed between your furnace and your malt which depends on the size of your furnace. From what I’ve read kilns were loaded with 40-50 kg per square meter, more for dark malt and the ideal depth being 4-5 inches for pale malts. This would mean for your small kiln 4×4 ft. would be plenty. Most of my information comes from older books like A Textbook of Brewing by Jean De Clerk and Malting and Brewing Science by Hough, Briggs and Stevens. I’ll try to put links to online books on my resources page. Will let you know when I find some on this topic. Best of luck and keep us posted on the progress!

       
  19. Curtis

    December 19, 2014 at 3:25 am

    Francois

    Thanks for the quick and encouraging response. It is great to have someone to bounce ideas with.

    Please see my brewery Facebook page by searching FB for “Sol del Venado”. Look at the video of my rolling dryer; go down through the photos to see details of it and of some of the other equipment I have designed and built in my shop.

    For my new English Kiln, I have a piece of perforated steel measuring 1 M by 1.1 meters. This will be the floor. It will be framed by angle iron and have sheet metal sides to hold the malt bed and the roof / chimney will sit on top of that. The floor will sit upon a set of four small brick walls with a brick floor and the furnace will also be mostly brick. The furnace will consist of a vertical slanted sheet metal chute for charcoal with a heavy steel burn grate at the bottom ; an air inlet valve from the front, and a horizontal brick combustion chamber out the rear to the center, where it will turn up to a solid steel deflection plate (50 cm x 50 cm x 3 mm ) at about 25 cm below the perforated floor.
    I plan to crush the (natural mesquite-like) charcoal before loading the chute. It should be self feeding, much like a pellet burner, with the air inlet valve controlling the rate-of-burn.
    I started drawing the plans today and will see if I can post them for you to review when they’re done (Saturday?)

    Best regards, and thanks for sharing.

     
    • Curtis

      December 19, 2014 at 8:23 pm

      Please let me know how I can send you a .pdf file of the plans…they are now done, and I am very excited about starting construction soon. 🙂

       
  20. Steven

    February 23, 2015 at 11:07 pm

    Hello,

    I just found your site and it seems we have some things in common. I have been looking for some malting barley seed one of which is Maris Otter. I have been looking through your blog and cannot find where you got your seeds. I was wondering if you might share with me where you got them? Maybe some other good sources of seed as well?

    Thanks so much, keep up the good work. Maybe when I can make time and start my blog you will enjoy it as well.

    Steve

    P.S. My email is not a reflection of my formal education. It is simply a nickname I was given.

     
    • Steven

      February 23, 2015 at 11:09 pm

      Sorry, I changed my email, so forget about the P.S. comment.

       
  21. Eike Hinz

    June 6, 2015 at 10:57 pm

    Hi Francois,
    I was thinking of putting in some grain this year – I know its a little late but I want to try anyway. Where do you buy your grain? (I am in Vancouver frequently)
    What kind of barley/variety do you grow? I was hoping to get some Marris otter seed.
    Let me know,
    E

     
    • jfdyment

      June 7, 2015 at 7:20 pm

      Hi Eike, There are a few places to get some seeds, Salt Spring Seeds and Johnny’s are two. Johnny’s sells conlon (two row) and Robust (6 row) I’ve grown both, out of the two I’d recommend Robust- huge yields and the mice left it alone. Salt spring has Alba – a variety used by the Skagit Valley malting company among many other interesting varieties. Maris Otter is owned by Robin Appel Ltd. They own the rights so you won’t be able to buy it. In fact anybody making money from it that’s not under contract could be sued, but if you’re in Langley I could give you some Maris Otter seed. I have some from last year. How much do you need?

       
      • Eike Hinz

        June 7, 2015 at 7:29 pm

        Hi Francois,
        I looked into both of those after leaving the comment – salt spring seems to be a good bet. Johnny’s is in the states if im correct, according to their website I would need a phytosanitary certificate @ $100. This is more than the bag of seed I would buy so it doesn’t make sense.
        I will be in Vancouver late next week, heading back to the interior on the 15th/16th and would love to come by if you have time. My email is in the ‘info’ box below (I assume you can see the info). Send me an email, I would love to work something out. As for how much, as much as you are willing to share – I want to get some experience so that I can do more next year.
        Thanks,
        Eike

         
      • Gary Woods

        February 21, 2016 at 8:11 pm

        I’m looking to grow some barley to malt this summer, and Johnny’s is my go-to source for a lot of stuff (I met Rob Johnston at the Seed Saver’s Exchange summer campout a couple of summers ago). Looks like “Robust” is my starting point, and reading these posts I realize how little I know about the chemistry. Just what I need, another obsession!

         
      • jfdyment

        February 22, 2016 at 1:06 am

        I know what you mean! I’ve had really good results with Robust and for some reason, maybe the hairs on it, but the mice left it alone and it really produces. How much are you growing? and where are you growing it?

         
      • Gary Woods

        February 22, 2016 at 7:41 pm

        A followup: I’m going to get a pound each of Conlon and Robust with my usual order (sugar snaps, etc) from Johnny’s. I’ll likely plant 8X15 feet of each and see how they do; meantime, I’ll try some brewing with store-bought malt. I have a couple of hills of hops: Nugget and Willamette on poles on the southeast facing rear of the house. They usually climb strings to a second-story window.

         
      • jfdyment

        February 22, 2016 at 9:09 pm

        Nice! send me some pictures when it’s growing and I’ll put them on my blog. It’s a good idea to seperate them by 10 ft just to make sure they don’t cross polinate. Cheers!

         
      • Gary Woods

        February 22, 2016 at 9:07 pm

        Apologies for the incomplete followup; I’m located in upstate New York, in a “hill town” west of Albany. 1400′ elevation; zone 5/4 (but the past few years, pretty solidly zone 5, barring a couple of really cold nights).

         
  22. Martin Gross

    September 9, 2015 at 8:11 pm

    Hi
    Just got wind of your site. Fantastic. I recently started sprouting barely for our chickens and have now realize maybe I could mash that $15 bag of feed barely I sprout? Worth a try. Also, I brew over a fire pit and its not that hard. See my youtube post on that. The “mad fermentationist” came out and fairly reviewed our process. We were making Gruit too! No Hops, rather Wormwood, Yarrow primarily.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9pNJ_LvwEFk
    firepit video

    Martin

     
  23. Alex

    October 8, 2015 at 3:40 am

    Hi Francois,

    I am from Australia and with a hot summer coming up I thought of maybe drying my malt outside (it can get up to 45c where I am). Additionally I thought maybe using a greenhouse kilning could be done inside it, have you heard of this method?

     
    • jfdyment

      October 8, 2015 at 3:35 pm

      Hi Alex, yes you can absolutely dry it outside and in the greenhouse. I’m currently making some wind malt with a fan and at room temperature- the video is coming soon. How hot does it get in your greenhouse? I wouldn’t be surprised if it reached curing temperatures in there. Wind malt that was traditionally used in Belgium did not go through the curing stage, it was dried in “lofts” and spread very thin. When it’s not cured the malt will have a grassy flavour and cannot be stored for very long but it has more diastatic power. Make some videos I’d love to see your set up! Cheers

       
  24. Ryan

    January 27, 2016 at 6:57 am

    Thanks for all the information. The malting recipes you have researched have been a big help. I’m a barley farmer from Montana. Also been malting 20 lbs batched. If I can figure out how to post pics I’d share my kiln. Some technical questions… What is your procedure for the jar color tests? How do you measure moisture? If you pass through Montana I’ll fill your suitcase wiht barley.

     
    • jfdyment

      January 27, 2016 at 5:11 pm

      Right on! I just might take you up on your offer, Montana’s a beautiful state, I drove through there when I was 18 and always wanted to go back. For the colour tests I’ve been mixing 1.6 oz. in one cup of boiled water. I thought that ratio would sort of mimic brewing conditions – it’s not based on any industry method, because I’m just comparing malts to each other I didn’t think it mattered as long as each sample is treated the same way. For moisture content the standard method is to dry out a crushed sample (.2mm crush if you want to be really accurate) at 223 F for 3 hours. If you use one ounce you just subtract the dried weight from the original one ounce and that difference is your moisture content percentage. For example if my dried weight is .9 of an ounce my barleys moisture content is 10%. I usually just put it in a ceramic dish and have my oven at 225F. I have a video “Pale malt” where I talk about it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uN9vvhDd7M It’s somewhere around the 2 min mark. I’d love to see some pictures of your kiln and your farm. Here’s my e-mail if you want to send them jfdyment@yahoo.com Hope this helps, Cheers! Francois

       
  25. Steve

    January 5, 2017 at 10:00 pm

    I’ve been malting my own barley for the past 6 months or so with a lot of help from your blog and have had decent success. I’m looking to extend my germination time to increase the enzymes developed during germination. I figure germinating on the cooler side, 12-14 c will help with this, but what about relative humidity? Keep it dryer, but how much dryer? I’m looking to make a temperature and humidity controlled environment for steeping and germinating similar to what people are doing for curing meats and aging cheese at home.
    Thanks,
    Steve

     
    • jfdyment

      January 5, 2017 at 11:24 pm

      Hi Steve!, according to DeClerck when floor malting there should be a relative humidity of 95% (I would assume he’s talking about a minimum). For pneumatic malting where there is air passing through the bed during germination Briggs states the importance of an RH of 100%. However, I have noticed that some barley varieties seem to grow more or faster than others and that’s why I’ve suggested “drying” out or withering the roots a little, to slow down the growth when it’s very active to extend the germination time. I live in a very humid area, on the west coast of Canada so I imagine the opposite is true for most places and keeping things humid is the challenge. What variety of barley are you using? and where do you get it? How is the beer you are making with it?
      Cheers, Francois

       
  26. Steve

    January 6, 2017 at 1:19 am

    It’s 2 row conlon barley that I have a local animal feed supply order for me out of Utah and shipped over to me in Iowa in 50# sacks. Its fairly clean with very few broken kernels, but does have probably 1% green kernels which don’t germinate. I usually rinse two or three times and then proceed to steeping. Steeping goes 8 wet, 8 dry, etc up to 42-44% moisture content for pale base malt. Dry at 35 degrees with ventilation for 12 hr. Dry at 45 degrees for 12 hr or until 10% moisture content. Cure at 85 for 2.5 hr. I have done mostly session pale ales so I can really see how the home malt will work. Typical mash in around 65-66 degrees. Efficiency has been in the 60’s where I typically run 75%+. As far as my rh goes, I have been germinating at ambient basement rh and temp, 12-14 c and 35-50% rh depending if it’s snowing out or not. Do you typically try to slow germination down around the 3rd or 4th day? Or does it just depend?
    Thanks,
    Steve

     
  27. jfdyment

    January 6, 2017 at 4:54 pm

    Yes, it depends. The idea is to draw out the germination for as long as possible without having the barley overgrow. A small percentage of overgrown kernels are ok. The longer you can draw it out the more enzymes you will develop in the malt, and the more modified it will become. I try to aim for 7 days, but that doesn’t always happen. The most growth usually happens on day 3 or 4 and then it slows down after. Also judging modification by the acrospires can be misleading, it’s better to do the “rub” test.
    Francois

     
  28. Matthew Ford

    January 16, 2017 at 10:14 pm

    Love the blog. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

     
  29. Eve

    July 6, 2017 at 11:25 pm

    Where did you get your Maris Otter seed?

     
    • jfdyment

      July 7, 2017 at 1:27 am

      A few years ago I got a sample from the USDA for research purposes, just a couple of ounces, it only takes a couple of years to get enough seed for a large plot.

       
  30. Jonathan Shockley

    July 9, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    Hi Francois,
    I have a question that I can’t seem to get clarity on and was wondering if you could help. For brewing, we need to use malt, because barley by itself does not contain enough enzymes, particularly alpha amylase to convert the starch in the barley to sugar. We could also apply this to wheat and other grains. Now, for bread baking, we take raw unmalted wheat flour, combine yeast, salt, and water, and can clearly observe fermentation taking place within hours. Where is the sugar coming from? Why is it that we do not need malted wheat flour to make bread?
    In an attempt to answer my own question, here is what I think is the correct answer but am still not sure. First of all, we all know that bread and beer are closely related. The science behind bread baking and brewing however seem quite different. If you are an all grain brewer, chances are you have performed an iodine test at some point. The iodine test allows us to determine if there is starch present. Put a drop of iodine on a potato and it turns dark purple. Place a drop of iodine on some properly mashed wort, and it turns a light brown color. Now, if you’re asking the right questions, what happens if you place a drop of iodine on some bread? It turns purple. That’s right, there is still a tremendous amount of starch left in bread. That’s not the case with beer.
    When we make beer, we go through the trouble of making malt so that we can produce tremendous amounts of enzymes (alpha amylase) to convert not some, but all (or at least most) of the starches to sugar. With bread baking, we are more concerned with leavening, which doesn’t seem to require nearly as much fermentation as beer does. The reality is that there is a lot more work via fermentation going on when making beer than when making bread.
    So back to the original question. Where does the sugar come from for the yeast in bread baking? From what I’ve read, wheat flour consists of about 3 percent sugar, and actually has a small amount of alpha amylase. It must be that the small amount of alpha amylase present in the flour is enough to produce the sugar needed for leavening.
    I apologize for the long-winded question, but I can’t help but be a little intrigued by this.
    Thanks,
    Jonathan

     
    • jfdyment

      July 9, 2017 at 6:49 pm

      Hey Jonathan I remember reading in some old textbooks about brewing with unmalted barley, I’ll see if I can dig this up, there was also something about chit malt (barley that has just begun to form roots) I agree with your answer- that it’s just a matter of degree, beer ferments for weeks whereas bread can ferment for a day or two and then the yeast will stop having an effect. I think brewing with unmalted barley will give you a low alcohol and very cloudy beer, which would be very susceptible to contamination. Barley’s also hard to crush. This sounds like my kind of challenge! Cheers Francois

       

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