RSS

Author Archives: jfdyment

About jfdyment

Home brewer and gardener

Oat malt lager, kinda nasty, gets better, but still weird.

I’ve avoided malting oats after reading in the “Homebrewers Garden” by Fisher and Fisher that germinating oats attract “butryfying bacteria” and that the butanol isomers that these bacteria can produce are poisonous as are the microbes themselves. But I still can’t find any other sources of information to back up this claim, and please correct me if I’m wrong here but I don’t think butryfying is even a word. If you have any information on this subject please let me know, you could be saving my life! What does give me some cause for concern is Ergot which is found most often in rye and oats, but ergot is easy to spot in whole grains because it’s black and looks like a mouse turd. It’s impossible to spot once it’s ground up though.

Ergot in barley

 

I recently picked up a 40 lb bag of oats at a feed store for $13. It was surprisingly clean, much cleaner than any feed barley I’ve bought. I only rinsed it twice and that seemed sufficient. What I soon discovered with oats is that they absorb water much faster than barley. I discovered this by actually overshooting my target moisture content twice!

I started by finding out the initial moisture content by drying out a ground  1 ounce sample in the oven at 225F for 3 hours. The initial moisture content was 12%. I also tested the germination rate between some damp paper towel and I got a 95% germination rate which was pretty awesome. For the first batch I made mathematical errors while weighing it and I ended up steeping it for too long. It reached 47%  which I malted anyway but I got a surprisingly low germination rate at 62% The malt was very wet for a long time during germination, the surface of the grains just wouldn’t dry out like barley does. So I did another batch and after only two steeps at 8 hrs with an 8 hour rest in between, it was still too high at 44%. The germination rate improved to 72% So why not try again. It turns out you can reach 40% with just one steep at 11 hours and my germination rate improved yet again to 81.5% which is ok, not great, but I’ll take it. Makes me wonder what say 36-38% would produce. The added advantage to steeping just once is less risk of mould forming. This third batch did not have any visible mould by the end of germination whereas the other two had some ( not a lot, I picked out most of them). The oats had an unpleasant smell throughout the process and it should be noted that it was present even before germination, and before any visible mould forming. When oat husks are wet they smell exactly like green corn husks and it’s quite strong too, so much that I almost chucked all three batches. This green corn husk smell is very similar to and can be mistaken for a musty odour – like a mouldy wet basement. Having that show up in my beer well, that’s kind of a deal breaker. It also made me kind of paranoid to think that I could be ingesting something poisonous. I’m not sure why I got such a high germination rate without steeping in the test sample compared to the steeped batches. Perhaps oats do better with spraying water during germination instead of steeping.

I ended up making a lager malt since I planned to make a lager out of these oats using the second and third batches of malt. It’s not something I’ve seen before and I thought it would be a good way to really find out the flavour characteristics of oats. What I soon discovered is that people don’t make oat lager for a very good reason, it’s gross. I added some lightly toasted oat malt to the recipe and those tasted great. It made me think that perhaps dark beer made with a Vienna oat malt as a base would be able to mask the corn husk flavour. I’ll try this next.

After primary fermentation the corn husk flavour was still there but decreasing slightly. I threw in some Citra hops in an attempt to mask some of the flavour and it kind of worked. Needless to say this beer is not what I expected at all so I’m not quite sold on it yet. It’s an acquired taste, but if someone gave me this beer and said that it’s made using the ancient Mayan technique of filtering through green corn husks I would say ” WOW, this beer is AMAZING, you can actually taste the corn husks!” But there is no ancient Mayan technique, so I can’t even lie about it. The first thing you notice is the Citra hops, which are always nice, then for me, the husk flavour starts at the back of my throat – I know gross -perhaps due to the tannins? not pleasant. Once it rears it’s ugly head the husk flavour kind of takes over or this could be just a mental thing – as in, I can’t get away from tasting it when I really don’t want to. But like I said before, if you can embrace the husk flavour (perhaps you also like eating grass) then this beer is fantastic!

The recipe:

  • 11 lbs. Oat malt
  • .5 lbs Oat biscuit malt
  • 5 oz acid malt (store bought)
  • 1 oz Goldings (5%) 60 min
  • 1 oz. Goldings 15 min
  • 1 oz. Centennial (10%) 5 min
  • 1 oz Mandarina Bavaria last minute
  • 1 oz Citra last minute
  • 2-3 oz (can’t remember) Citra dry hopped 7 days

Mashed in at 105F at 1.0 qt/lb and added direct heat to 130F for 20 min. Then added an infusion of 1 gal. to get to 145F at 1.42qt/lb for about 30 min. I then decocted a gallon to get to 154 for another hour and a half.

Original gravity was 1.050 Final gravity was 1.0064 for 5.5% abv.

 

 
13 Comments

Posted by on August 16, 2017 in Oat Malt

 

Comparing Apples to Oranges Part 2 of Aerated steeping vs. Un-aerated steeping

After brewing with my aerated malt and the un-aerated malt I’ve come to realize that there is a major flaw with this comparison. So much so that I had decided not to post the results until I redid this experiment. Then I received some enthusiastic words of encouragement from some readers who were waiting for these results, thanks, Arman and Graham! I did learn something while doing this so I think it is worth posting but keep in mind this will be the first of many comparisons of aerated an un-aerated malt. Here’s part 1

The main flaw with this experiment was basically how the low germination temperature adversely affected the aerated malt.

Malting the aerated barley at the same temperature as the un-aerated did prove that it was the un-aerated steep that delayed the growth, or that aeration speeds up growth, but in order for the faster growing aerated malt to develop enough enzymes in its short germination period it needs warmer temperatures in the 15-18C 59-64F range and not the 7-12C 45-54F range. According to Briggs “Steep aeration reduces alcohol production and often leads to subsequent more vigorous germination and  respiration during the germination phase.” (pg 209) Visually the roots were not as long as I normally see them (as expected due to the cold temperatures) but the acrospires seemed long enough and the starch was pasty so I was duped into thinking it was modified when it really wasn’t.

When making the beer I had to mash the aerated malt for 3 hours and it still hadn’t fully converted (using an iodine test). The un-aerated took 1 1/2 hours to fully convert. These were small 2 gallon batches, the recipes were the same, fermentation temperatures were the same but they were brewed on different days.

Aerated :

  • O.G. 1.057
  • F.G. 1.009 6.14% abv.

Un-aerated

  • O.G. 1.061
  • F.G. 1.0055 7.3% abv.

Another tell tale sign of under-modification in the aerated malt was a stuck sparge. So not only did I have to decoct this mash a couple of times to maintain the temperature but I had to transfer the whole thing to a large strainer and batch sparge it. Hands down, this was my most disappointing brew day ever. The un-aerated ended up producing more wort at a higher gravity.

Since one malt was under-modified and the other was not it is not really a good comparison. I should be comparing a really well-made example of an aerated malt germinated at a higher temperature that is well modified to a good example of a traditional un-aerated malt germinated at a cooler temperature, which is what I plan to do next. You might be thinking, why not germinate the un-aerated malt at the same higher temperature as a modern malt? With un-aerated malt, higher temperatures may cause uneven germination. According to Briggs (209) ” …at these (16-18C) and especially higher temperatures water sensitivity (dormancy) will be induced and the grain will germinate unevenly. To some extent the adverse effects of higher temperatures may be offset by the use of air rest during steeping”

So what I learned is that aerated malt is a different animal (more vigorous) with different needs (higher germination temperatures) than un-aerated malt.

Taste test: In a nutshell, the un-aerated had a richer maltier flavour but lacked body, the aerated had more body less flavour. Again the brewing of these two beers was so varied that it’s not a good representation of the malts characteristics. What we have is a very well modified malt and an under-modified malt. One theory as to why an un-aerated steep produces a more well-modified malt is that not only is it given more time to develop but that the endosperm is more fully saturated. (See Briggs, Malts and Malting pg 95-96) During an aerated steep the barley often chits even before the steeping is over. When the grain chits, water is absorbed through the embryo faster, so the grain may reach the target steep weight but the endosperm may not be as consistently saturated as a grain that does not chit during the steep. This may also make germination more consistent with the un-aerated malt. The pictures show these traits quite well. The aerated malt is more cloudy and has more head whereas the un-aerated is clear and loses

The pictures show the modification traits quite well. The aerated malt is more cloudy and has more head whereas the un-aerated is clear and loses it’s head quickly. I’m really looking forward to trying this experiment again and I’ll also compare it with store bought malt.

 

After tasting Aerated on left, un-aerated on right

Aerated malt beer on left Un-aerated on right

 
10 Comments

Posted by on August 11, 2017 in un-aerated malt

 

Tags:

Chevallier vs. Maris Otter

So far given the limited data I’ve gathered from my small plot of Maris Otter and my really small test plot of Chevallier, the Chevallier is seriously outperforming the Maris Otter. Visually there is a huge difference, the Chevallier looks stunning, the heads are huge, bigger than other two row varieties I’ve grown like Conlon and Harrington. As far as weight goes I counted out a random sample of 100 corns of each and the Chevallier weighed 6.2 grams, the Maris Otter weighed 5.3 grams. However, I have not measured the moisture contents yet so these numbers may be a little off but they have been drying indoors for the past 10 days so they’re probably close. I haven’t harvested all the grain yet, I should be able to tomorrow. Unfortunately this year I’ve been hit with racoons, rats and squirrels. I figured they’ve taken about 30-40% of my Maris Otter crop, it’s hard to say. The cayenne pepper seemed to work for the racoons and maybe even the rats but made no difference to the squirrel who seems to like it spicy. I caught him a few times sitting on the chicken wire right out in the open munching away. The good news is I should have enough Chevallier seed to plant a big plot of it next year, I can’t wait to brew with it.

Two of the larger sized heads. Chevallier on the left Maris Otter on the right.

Three large sized heads and three average sized of each. Chevallier on the left , Maris Otter on the right.

You can see the big blank spot in the front as well as the upper left corner.

Chevallier. The plants are tall and the heads are heavy, it probably would have lodged on a larger plot.

Maris Otter drying in the kitchen. I’m so grateful that my wife “appreciates” (puts up with) my hobbies.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on July 30, 2017 in Garden videos

 

Garden Update July 1 2017

Moonlight,

June night,

Just-right-for-racoon night.

Not too dark,

Not too bright,

As we look for treats.

Out we creep

While people sleep.

Soon we hope to find a heap

Of cheese and bread crumbs,

Piled deep

On codfish bones and beets.

-Nancy Shaw

Bere barley last week

This is from one of my kid’s favorite books when they were little it’s called Racoon Tune. I must have read this to them a thousand times back when I thought raccoons were cute. I’ve since changed my mind. The barley was looking fantastic last week and I thought I may even be harvesting the Bere barley this week but they beat me to it, the masked bastards. Look at the Bere now.

Bere barley this week.

They also destroyed about three beds of the Maris Otter. I’m thinking it’s raccoons and not rats because the stems have just been knocked over whereas rats tend to chew the stalk at the base and then take the seed head. Some of the seed heads have just been chewed off and the only other animal that could do that would be a skunk but they’re quite a bit smaller than the raccoons around here. I also found some of their crap which was rather neatly deposited into one corner of the garden, at least they have manners.

 

Looks like raccoon crap.

Fortunately, there is quite a bit of barley left in the garden, the Chevallier looks good so I’m not giving up.

Chevallier

The Maris Otter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I couldn’t leave the garden today without doing something to deter these little buggers. Fencing is out of the question, they would just climb over it. So I figured I’d try to make it a little unappetizing for them. I bought three packs of cayenne pepper and sprinkled it all over the barley and I tried to get some on the ground as well so they’d get it on their paws. I know, it sounds kinda cruel, but I’m hoping they’ll just smell it and move on. Fingers crossed.

 
11 Comments

Posted by on July 2, 2017 in Garden videos

 

Garden Update 2017

I’ve got a new plot! (again). Last year’s new plot turned out to be a bit of a disaster. It was big and had been neglected so it was full of weeds and rhizomes. I had a heck of a time trying to pull out the grass that kept coming up. It was also in a poorly drained part of the field so it wasn’t a good choice for spring planting. The new plot although smaller 20×30 ‘ is close to my old plot, which I’ve kept, so I’ll be alternating the barley between the plots each year. I planted on March 11 before we went away for a spring break vacation and when we came back everything had come up beautifully, especially the barley under the remay. You can see the difference in this picture, the beds in the front had the remay. The other beds will catch up after a few weeks.

Two weeks after planting. Temperatures ranged from 3 to 10 C

AS soon as I removed the remay, these jerks showed up and started snacking on the seeds

I had to do something, so I took the shirt I was wearing (I had two) and stuffed it with the remay to make this creepy scarecrow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bere is coming up well but the Chevalier seems a little sparse.

Chevalier

Bere

 
3 Comments

Posted by on March 27, 2017 in Garden videos

 

Lightly Toasted Malts, Victory, Amber and Biscuit

These are easy malts to make because they start out as pale malts and are lightly toasted. There are several ways to make them and there is plenty of information to do this on the internet, but I wanted to try it myself so that I could see and taste what effect the different times and temperatures had. Victory and Amber malts are pretty much the same and are a little darker than Biscuit. However, these malts will vary between malting companies.  I found that the most pronounced roasted flavour came from a short roast at a high temperature. This is not surprising given the appearance of the malt. At 350F there is some significant darkening that occurs in a certain percentage of the grains, in other words, some grains look burnt, not charred, just well roasted.  I found that soaking did not have much of an effect on the flavour, it just extended the kilning time. Because of this, it was not possible to get a light coloured biscuit malt after soaking.  The flavour of the soaked grains was comparable to the grain roasted dry at a low temperature (250F) which was more mellow. Here are the times and temperatures I used to get malts with similar colours.

Biscuit:

  1.  250F for 1 hour or
  2.  300F for 30 min or
  3.  350F for 20 min

Victory and Amber

  1.  250F for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or
  2.  300F for 45 minutes or
  3.  350F for 30 minutes or
  4.  If soaked for 1 hour 350F for 45 minutes (or just until it’s dry)
  5.  If soaked for 2 hours 250F for 3 hours (do not recommend)

Amber Malt: From Malt and Malting:  An Historical , Scientific and Practical Treatise. H Stopes 1885 p. 159-161

Germinates as a pale malt

  • Kilning: First 12 hrs. below 80F  26.6C
  • End of hour 18  85F  29.4 C
  • End of hour 20 125F 51.6C
  •          ”          21  140F  60C
  •          ”          22  160F  71C
  •          ”          23  180F  82C
  •          ”          24  200F  93C
  •          ”          25  220F  104.4C
  •          ”          26  240F  115.5C
  •          ”          26.5  250  121.1C

Stopes also recommends that the final curing stage (last 5-6 hrs) can be carried out with dry beechwood in the kiln for the best flavour.

My version seen in the video was to start with a pale malt and kiln at 200F for 1 hr. 220F for 1 hour 240F for an hour then 250F for an hour.

 
14 Comments

Posted by on March 6, 2017 in Amber malt, Biscuit malt, Victory malt

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Some clarification on the history of air rests in malting

I thought I’d have to dig through a bunch of old texts to find out when the inclusion of air rests in steeps started. The only mention of it in any old text that I had read so far was in Henry Stopes Malts and Malting An Historical, Scientific and Practical Treatise 1885. On page 332 he describes the newly adopted practice in Bohemia of Steeping for 24 hours followed by a 24 air rest and then a shorter steep of 8-10 hours (the date on the citation for this is 1874) He also describes the use of spray steeping on the continent.

As it turns out I didn’t have to look much further than this article by D.E. Briggs: Accelerating Malting: A Review of Some Lessons of the Past from the United Kingdom. 1986. In this paper Briggs describes the many methods used in the past and present to accelerate germination rates. Listed are methods such as abrasion to light crushing, low moisture squeezing as well as warm steeping and using additives like hydrogen peroxide and giberellic acid.

Any summary I could write about this article wouldn’t do it justice so I won’t try, but here are just a few interesting points  in a very, very brief summary form.

Briggs does confirm that air rests were adopted by maltsters in Germany in 1875 but also mentions the traditional Norwegian practice of steeping  barley in sacks submerged in streams and taking them out at intervals to drain and rest. Check out this old footage of traditional brewers in Norway from this awesome blog Larsblog shared by my friends at Spowtmalt.com  I’m not sure what they’re saying but it’s fascinating to watch.

Interestingly Briggs notes that the practice of air resting fell out of use in the U.K. in the early 1900’s but was re-introduced in the 1950’s  when it was recognized that an air rest after the grain had reached a water content of 35-37% overcame water-sensitivity and the grain could then be steeped again to a final moisture content between 41-46%

There is also a great description of how early chitting in the grain, which occurs with spray steeping and to a certain extent with air rests can affect the water uptake due to the more rapid absorption of water from the embryo over the starchy endosperm once the grain chitts. This can leave the inside of the endosperm dry even while the overall target moisture content is reached which can be detrimental to modification.

Briggs concludes by stating that despite all the new techniques and methods utilized in modern malting that each new batch of barley brings it’s own problems in production. He suggests that malt could be made more rapidly if there were a better understanding of various aspects of immaturity and vigor or dormancy. Also that further studies need to be done to improve methods that characterize the degree of maturity in grains. As well it would be advantageous to find methods other than prolonged storage to hasten grain maturation.

This article is well worth reading and sheds a lot of light on the recent history of the steeping process.

 

 

 
3 Comments

Posted by on February 22, 2017 in History, un-aerated malt

 
 
The Meandering Meadery

Cultivating fermented food and drinks one jar at a time

Sprowt Labs

Home Malting Equipment for the Home Brewer

Brülosophy

They Who Drink Beer Will Think Beer

Immaculate Brewery

Growing, malting and brewing beer

Creative Brewing

by Scott Ickes

A Brewer's Wife

Law librarian, brewer's wife and mom of three girls (not necessarily in that order)

From Plants to Beer

The real route of beer

My Own Home Brew

My record and experience in brewing

F Words I Love

Fresh. Frugal. Fermented. Free.

Romping & Nguyening

Romping around the world and Nguyening since March 2014.

Brewing Beer The Hard Way

Growing, malting and brewing beer

Five Blades Brewing

F' Everything, We're Doing Five Blades

The Jax Beer Guy

This Guy Knows Beer -- Also visit www.JaxBeerGuy.com

East Happyland Homebrew Garden Louisiana

Gardening hops, grains, vegetables, and brewing beer in South Louisiana. And they said it couldn't be done....

Bergfast bryggeri

Et lite kjellerbryggeri blir til

The Apartment Homebrewer

Brewing small batches of craft beer in a 650 sqft apartment

Redneck Brewing

Because good beer doesn't require sophistication.

Bishop's Beer Blog

Just another WordPress.com site

The Quest for Edelstoff

Making Liquid Bread

Home Bruin

The homebrewing adventures of a Boston sports fan