Category Archives: Diastatic Brown Malt

This beer was made without roasted malts!


Not yet fully carbonated but I couldn’t wait any longer!  This beer was made with a single malt sent to me all the way from Montana from Ryan Pfeifle at Farm Power Malt.  Ryan your “samples” are on their way!  I’ve been talking to Ryan about diastatic brown malt and the theory that a lot of colour can be achieved with a stewing phase at around 122°F 50°C. The question that I’ve been trying to find out lately is whether or not this was part of the malting process for brown malt back in the 18th century or was most of their colour achieved by high temperatures while there was some moisture present thereby partially caramelizing the malt like a Munich malt. This may be an impossible question to answer but it’s leading to some fun experiments.

Believe it or not, this malt was kilned under 200°F and does not have any caramelization.  However, it did undergo a proteolytic stewing phase at 120F 49C after germinating which obviously after kilning has produced a wack-load of melanoidins. Talk about rich wow! This beer is super malty, full of dried fruit flavours like prunes, raisins, and cherries which are covered in caramel. Unfortunately, I made the shameful mistake of underpitching my yeast and the fermentation stopped at 1.029 (O.G. was 1.075). It tasted great, not too sweet for me, so I bottled it. In hindsight, I should have given it a stir and another week. Luckily I reserved some yeast with some of the beer and I left this at room temperature to see if it would ferment down and it did! After one more week, the gravity is 1.018.

This sample fermented down to 1.018. Attenuation =76%

My numbers were very surprising. With 11.85 lbs. of malt used in this recipe my gravity should have been around 1.062 at 75% efficiency, according to my brewing software, but I ended up with a whopping O.G. of 1.075. With a potential final gravity of 1.018, my ABV would have been 7.45%.  As it stands now the ABV is at 6%. I gave it a one hour mash at 150°F. Note:  I started with a high kettle volume (7 gallons) and boiled for two hours leaving me with a final volume of just over 5 gallons.

The flavour reminds me of beer made with a lot of Special B malt which makes me think this malt would be perfect for a Belgian Dubbel or perhaps it would be well suited for a dark lager, smooth malty and dark but not roasty. Or perhaps since the flavour is so bold it would be great in a barleywine. At the moment this malt is still being developed so they’re still tweaking the recipe. Ryan’s got a very cool malting system which he built from scratch on their farm so be sure to check out their website!


Posted by on January 25, 2019 in Diastatic Brown Malt


1804 Porter taste test

DSC00525This is the Porter based on the Barclay Perkins Porter from 1804 with Brown malt and Pale malt. I shouldn’t call this a taste test because that would imply that I haven’t tried any when in fact it’s almost all gone. But hey, can you blame me? It was the perfect beer for the Christmas holidays. After all the food, desserts, and chocolate it was nice to finish the evenings with something not sweet but full of dry roasted flavours. Dark toast and coffee dominate, the smoke is almost non-existent. It’s so subtle it’s  presence could be mistaken for a slight sourness but I recognize the flavour from my other pecan wood  brown malt porter. The hops are very low which doesn’t surprise me. These were the hops I picked on River Rd. just outside of Fort Langley. I have no idea what kind they are but I’m guessing the alpha acid level is around 3% so I could have used a lot more. The colour is gorgeous, no complaints there and it’s got a full mouth feel. The head doesn’t stick around for very long, but considering the disastrous brew day and the stuck sparge I’m extremely happy it turned out so well.



1804 Porter

What a disaster. This beer was loosely based on the 1804 Barclay Perkins TT recipe from Ron Pattinsons book The Home brewer’s Guide to Vintage Beers. I didn’t think I was going to use the whole batch of brown malt in one recipe but this gave me a perfect excuse to do just that. So 4lb of non-diastatic brown, 2 lbs of my diastatic brown malt samples in place of the Amber malt in the recipe and 6lb of pale malt. I also added 1 lb of pilsner malt just because I had some and to help with conversion. Everything was going great until I tried to sparge. This mash got stuck and I mean really really stuck. With brown malt being roasted it is very friable, the husk breaks down in to very small pieces and the inside is a fine dusty powder which turned into cement at the bottom of my mash tun and completely plugged the false bottom. A larger mash tun would have helped and definitely more rice hulls, a lot more, I would suggest one pound minimum. I tried giving it a stir – nothing, I tried blowing some air through it – still nothing. I finally ended up ladling it out into a bucket and throwing all the sparge water in, sort of a batch sparge and then just pouring it through a strainer, what a mess. I’d be very surprised if this turns out. I ended up with 4.5 gallons of a decent looking dark beer with an O.G. of 1.064.  It’s been bubbling away nicely and has just started to slow down, my fingers are crossed. I thought this post might at least be useful for anyone else trying to make this recipe,  Cheers!DSCN1180


Posted by on December 5, 2014 in Brown malt, Diastatic Brown Malt, The beers


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New malt kiln

Still on the quest for a more authentic diastatic brown malt. I was pretty disappointed with the soot that appeared on my last batch and I wanted to play around with using higher temperatures so a new kiln was in order. Unfortunately I live in a townhouse, otherwise I would have built one by now using cinder blocks or anything I could get my hands on. Instead I had to settle for something on a more portable scale. I had originally thought of using a barrel so that I could take it to a campsite close by and put it over a fire pit, that way I could try using straw as a fuel. Then I figured why not use the gassifiers in the barrel, it’s clean, very safe, and I get one hour of burn time for each load of pellets. Every time I try burning straw it burns faster than paper, I still don’t get how this was used in the early malt kilns.

As I mention in the video I just didn’t have the time to perfect the design and my malt was at 10% moisture level after air drying for two days, it was more than ready to be kilned. The temperature crept up to 250 by the end of the first hour, there was still steam coming off at this point. During the second hour the temperature rose to 275 and then to 300 during the third. I knew this would probably be too hot for the malt to have any diastatic power left to convert itself but I wanted to see how a faster and hotter kilning would affect the colour.  My results were most likely inaccurate because even though my oven thermometer read these temperatures the heat coming out of the small holes in the barrel was much higher. The 4 oz. test batch came up with a 1.020 original gravity after an 8 hour mash.

Well at least now I know I can make a pretty descent blown malt, check out the snapping action in the video. As well this would be a great way to roast your grain outside, you could easily do 7 pounds at a time this way.


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Diastatic Brown Malt 2014




Last year, after my first attempts at making diastatic brown malt I realized that I had just scratched the surface of a vast subject but that it was definitely worth further experimentation. The beer I made was very unique but very light in colour. This year I thought I’d collect some useful data by pulling out 1/2 lb samples from my “kiln” at 1/2 hour intervals starting from the 3 hour mark, which is where I stopped last year. I kilned for 6 1/2 hours before running out of malt. My final conclusion – I could still go darker! To do this I think I could increase the heat of the fire to 300 F (but that’s for the next batch). The picture above shows from left to right: My pale malt, 3 hour brown malt, 3 1/2 hr., 4 1/2 hr., 5 1/2 hr., then 6 1/2 hr. The 61/2 looks lighter because it’s cloudy. Check out the jump in colour from 4 1/2 to 5 1/2. It was around the 5 hour mark that the temperature rose to 300F. Just to clarify these times are the curing times. I had air-dried this malt for about 36 hours and then kilned it for 5 hours with one gassifier no higher than 150F.

6 1/2 hour malt

6 1/2 hour malt

The colour of the malt did not change as fast or as much as I thought it would but I’m very excited about the 6 1/2 hour malt. Despite looking quite charred in places it did have some diastatic power left in it, enough to give me a potential O.G. of 1.028. In comparison the 3 1/2 hour malt, (under the same brewing conditions and volume) would be 1.051.  I was scaling down to 500ml as a final volume and constantly switching from gallons to litres and back again so I’m sure the math went a little sideways. Since I’m just comparing the samples I figured it wasn’t too important as long as I mashed each 4 oz. sample the same way.

“Dad what are you making? it smells like chocolate!” – my 8 year old daughter while I was boiling a decoction from the 5 1/2 hour malt. And I would agree with her, it’s an awesome smell, much less smoke than last year perhaps due to the oak pellets. I think a beer made from one of these is going to be amazing.

These mashes were very long. They started at 152 degrees and after three hours the temperature usually dropped to about 135. I did a decoction every three hours to bring the heat back up to 152. I would use my refractometer to see what kind of progress I was making and I was really surprised to see the brix rise steadily with the darker malts even though they didn’t fully convert. Interestingly, nothing changed after the 8 hour mark for the 6 and 6 1/2 hour malt even though I mashed them for 10 hours.

HEALTH WARNING : I have to point this out because it’s a little worrisome. The 5 1/2, 6, and 6 1/2 hour malts look rather sooty. They’re grayish in colour and when I handled them the soot seemed to be coming off on my hands. I could be making something highly carcinogenic. This could be because one of the gassifiers went out and smouldered a while or it could be that my offset smoker system is just too small and as the flames hit the top of the firebox soot accumulated on the grain. Since my latest results are showing that I don’t have to be as careful with the temperature as I thought I might make a better system with the flames directly under the malt. Perhaps in an metal drum or something similar. Because of this sootiness I would not recommend using an offset smoker, I don’t want to be responsible for anybody getting cancer!Screen shot 2014-11-10 at 8.07.33 PM


Note: The Pale malt is from a different batch of malt but I included it to compare conversion times. Probably could have gotten a better SG had I adjusted the pH properly. Also I did not include the 3 hr malt as I thought it was unnecessary.



Posted by on November 11, 2014 in Diastatic Brown Malt


2014 Competition Results


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Pre-industrial pale ale? tasting

DSCN9068_edited-1Well it was supposed to be a porter but… maybe next time. O.G. 1.051 F.G. 1.013  Alcohol 5.03 % Final volume 3.75 but I can’t be exact because of the spill. Efficiency according to Brew Tools is 78%. That’s the technical analysis, as far as flavour goes- Wow, this is an awesome beer, I’ve never had anything remotely similar. It’s only flaw (besides not being darker, of course) would be that it could use more hops but this is a matter of opinion as this is my wife Lori’s favourite beer. She’s not a huge beer fan, most of the time when she tries a new brew she responds with “tastes like beer” but this has such a unique flavour it took us a while to pin it down.

Clarity: Super clear but the colour is light, similar to a brown or even a pale ale. I know porters made with 100% diastatic brown malt were supposed to be lighter in colour but probably not this light. It might be more appropriate to call this a pre-industrial pale ale instead. I think it is worth some further experimentation to find out how dark I can go and how hot I can cure the malt without killing the enzymes. Perhaps I’ll make a chart that will include temperatures, kiln duration and extract potential.

Aroma: Certain smells can trigger memories and this beer had us both feeling particularly nostalgic. What came to my mind was the smell of charred cedar burnt in a campfire on a beach here on the west coast, it made me think of all the times we’ve spent camping by the ocean. What came to Lori’s mind was the smell of the Drum tobacco I used to smoke 20 years ago when we first met, (but in a good way).  I find that all smokey smells affect some primitive part of my brain, perhaps a part we share with bees who become docile when they come into contact with smoke. Or maybe they get nostalgic too.

Flavour: Some sweetness, a  low hop presence which I think is a shame because the pecan smoke flavour would go very well with a lot of hops.  I’ll try brewing a pecan smoked IPA very soon. There is a subtle nuttiness and tartness which is part of the smoke flavour and there’s a hint of toasted grains. The smoke is mellow enough, to allow the sweet and toasty flavours to come through.

This was a fun project but I’ve only scratched the surface, there will be many more attempts in the near future and I have much more research to do. Thanks to this beer I may be hooked on smoked malts. I’d like to try cherry, maple and oak as well.


Posted by on January 16, 2014 in Diastatic Brown Malt, The beers


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