Tag Archives: growing grains

Un-aerated steeping Part 1

Ok, mind blown, and I don’t know how I’ve missed this key piece of information. Sometimes I feel like the world of malting is shrouded in so much mystery that you have to be a detective to figure it out. The data in the Scotch Bigg Report provided the biggest piece of the puzzle that was missing for me: that long germination times are only possible with un-aerated steeps. The report gives us actual recorded steep times, which are shockingly long 40-118 hours. What may be even more important was the observation in the report that some maltsters only changed their steep water once or twice and some not at all. But how is this possible? Most texts I’ve read state that the grain will die if submerged for over 24 hours, I’ve told people this myself (my apologies). In fact, I believe it’s only been in the last 150 years that aeration has been used in the steeping process – but I’ll have to do some further investigating to confirm this. In part one of this project, I do a side by side comparison of malt steeped with air rests and malt steeped for 72 hours without. Results in a nutshell: the un-aerated tastes better, but I haven’t brewed with them yet, that’s part two. One factor that may skew the comparison is that I malted these barley samples at the same temperature, which was lower than I would normally malt aerated barley – this may have affected the flavour of the aerated malt. This will be addressed in part three – how does historically malted barley compare with modern malt (malted at warmer temperatures – 15C, 59F)


Posted by on February 12, 2017 in History, un-aerated malt


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Garden Update


Black Einkorn Wheat

Black Einkorn Wheat

Looks a little sparse but at least it’s growing. This picture and the one of the barley was taken on April 10 so it’s a little bigger now. I’ve got one 4 ft. by 10 ft. bed of Einkorn wheat and about 500 sq. ft. of Maris Otter this year so double the square footage from last year.  Einkorn wheat is one of the oldest domesticated grain varieties dating back 10,000 years. It also keeps it’s hull like barley, so even though it must be a pain to process for food it should be great to brew with. Theoretically that is, I haven’t tried it yet. One potential problem is the amount of protein in this grain, a whopping 18% which is twice that of a good malting barley. That’s more protein than some ground beef! So I’m expecting something pretty hazy. According to this study it’s also high in beta carotene and Vitamin A, that’s kind of a bonus. Here’s a good description of Einkorn that also includes some recipes and here’s a description of some other ancient grains worth experimenting with if you can find them. Also check out this fantastic article all about hulled wheat 

This picture of the barley was taken on the same day

Maris Otter

Maris Otter


Posted by on April 25, 2016 in Einkorn Wheat, Garden videos


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Garden update and Belgian Dubbel

Marching off to battle!

Marching off to battle!

I’m entering 4 beers into this years Vanbrewer’s Home brewing competition. The pre-industrial pale ale, the Vienna lager, a Belgian Dubbel and a Belgian dark strong ale all of which have some homegrown malt in them with the pale ale being 100% homegrown.

Belgian Dubbel

Belgian Dubbel

This one turned out really well with hints of chocolate, medjool dates and caramel. It’s dry but with a full mouth feel enhanced by a fine spritzy carbonation. The colour is a rich coppery brown and the aroma is of sweet hay. Here’s the recipe:

  • 8 lbs pale malt
  • 1 lb munich (home grown)
  • 8 oz. caramel 60L
  • 4 oz chocolate malt (homegrown)
  • 15 oz Special B (homegrown)
  • 8 oz raw soft wheat
  • 8 oz Honey malt (home grown)
  • 4 oz acid malt
  • 1 lb sugar
  • Tettnanger 3% 1 oz 60 min
  • Mt Hood 5% .5 oz 20 min
  • Mt Hood 5% 1 oz 5 min
  • White Labs WLP 545 Belgian Strong

Mashed at 153 C for 1 hour

8 gal R.O. water with  4g gypsum, 6g calcium chloride, 1g epsom and 4g Sodium Bicarbonate

Yeast pitched at 18 C. Primary fermented at 21 C then lowered to 18 C

O.G. 16.75 or 1.069 F.G. 7.5 or 1.0054   ABV 8.3 %

I counted 4 stalks coming up.

I counted 4 stalks coming up.

A few weeds to get rid of.

A few weeds to get rid of.



The barley is doing ok. I do have some concerns about the rate of growth in the centre of the beds. Perhaps the over crowding stunted the growth or there wasn’t enough nitrogen in the soil. I did notice some yellowing in the leaves so it’s probably nitrogen. The horse manure we get at the gardens contains a lot of sawdust which can lock up the nitrogen while it’s decomposing. Next fall I will definitely compost it in a pile instead of spreading it over the beds. A hot pile of compost can decompose faster than simply laying it on the beds due to the action of the bacteria. I spent a few hours taking out the weeds that had come up only to find out later that it was chickweed and that you can eat it, bummer. If you can eat your weeds it makes the work seem so much more worthwhile.


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Posted by on May 18, 2014 in Garden videos, The beers


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Mish Mash Ale

DSCN8361I’m not sure why it’s taken so long to use the remaining malts I still had, in a brew. I hate to say it but I kind of forgot about them. I only had a few ounces of each so I thought I’d throw them all into one brew and call it a brown ale. The resulting beer is fantastic. It has a very toasty character and a strong hop bitterness. It’s not a subtle beer, it’s got a lot of flavour but it’s slightly tempered by the soft foam which lingers on top. The base malt and the dark caramel are store bought but the rest of the malts used are mine. I included this beer in this blog to show that growing and making your own specialty malts is well worth the effort and may be a more realistic option for most people with limited garden space, including myself! I had planned to make only specialty malts out of my barley this year but a challenge has been made – to make an authentic diastatic brown malt and to use this malt to make an 18th century porter. More on this later.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 9 lbs Golden Promise (store bought)
  • 14 oz Light caramel
  • 3 oz medium caramel
  • 6.3 oz 120L caramel (store bought)
  • 6.7 oz Chocolate malt
  • 2 oz Roasted barley
  • 2.2 oz Brown malt
  • 6 oz Aromatic
  • Hops:
  • 1 oz B.C. Goldings from my garden 60 min
  • .5 oz Centennial (store bought) 20 min
  • 1 oz Centennial 5 min
  • Yeast: White Labs London Ale
  • O.G. 1.062 F.G. 1.019

Posted by on August 2, 2013 in The beers


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Barley updates June 8 and 22

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Posted by on June 23, 2013 in Garden videos


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Barley update -Lodging

Here’s what’s happening- I didn’t follow my own advice. I put too much nitrogen in the soil in the spring and I was so concerned that I wouldn’t get a good germination rate that I overseeded. The result of all this overcompensating is lodging. This is when the barley grows so fast and tall that the stem can’t support the grain head and it falls over. Sometimes it can be only temporary and the stalks will straighten out again. Even if they don’t and the stem isn’t broken the heads can still ripen but they may ripen unevenly and they might get moldy. The worst case scenario is that with the heads so close to the ground they are subject to any rat, mouse or bird that happens to find them and surprise, surprise they found them. I couldn’t say how much I’ve lost so far maybe 5-10% but it looks as though any heads that have come close to the ground are gone and all that is left is the stem. I’ve also found lots of evidence of mice tunnels and little piles of stored barley seeds. I’m estimating that I can harvest in 3 weeks if there’s any left!

Notice the stalks without the heads. Without the weight they straightened out again.

Notice the stalks without the heads. Without the weight they straightened out again.

The Maris Otter is a winter variety so it's slower than the others (I planted early spring) but it looks great so far. Maybe it's better suited to our climate since we get a lot of rain in the spring. Too much rain at the wrong  time can also cause lodging.

The Maris Otter is a winter variety so it’s slower than the others (I planted early spring) but it looks great so far. Maybe it’s better suited to our climate since we get a lot of rain in the spring. Too much rain at the wrong time can also cause lodging.                     
 Surprisingly even though the robust fell over the mice haven't  been able reach the heads. This may be because the stalks are taller and the heads haven't touched the ground. They're still ripening even though it looks pretty bad. Surprisingly even though the robust fell over the mice haven’t been able reach the heads. This may be because the stalks are taller and the heads haven’t touched the ground. They’re still ripening even though it looks pretty bad.



Conlon lodging

Conlon lodging



Posted by on June 17, 2013 in Garden videos


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Nutrient deficiencies and powdery mildew

So it turns out it was a good idea after all to put the Maris Otter in the garden and not in a pot like the Golden Promise. It started out looking really good but now there is some yellowing around the base leaves and powdery mildew on quit a few of them. I’m pretty sure the main reason for the mildew would be the spacing- too many plants in a small area. I’ve been using milk diluted with water as an organic method to get rid of it and this seems to work. The ratio is 30% milk 70% water sprayed on a sunny day so it dries quickly. Here’s a link for some info on powdery mildew. As for the yellowing this looks like a potash deficiency which is surprising since the soil is new. I bought a brand new bag of potting mix just for this pot. I guess I’ll have to add some fertilizer to it.

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Posted by on May 18, 2013 in Garden videos


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