Tag Archives: home malting

Oat Malt – Better flavour with a higher pH steep

Raising the pH of the steep water with Sodium Hydroxide has almost eliminated the bitter grassy flavours I was getting when malting oats. Please read this post first on my malting process. This beer is waaaay better than the last oat beer which made me give up on oats, I even state in my book that when malting oats, off flavours are unavoidable. I reached this conclusion after trying different sources of oats and hulless oats as well. I kept getting grassy flavours developing a few days into the malting process. I’m still not 100% sure what the source of these flavours are but according to these articles it could be the oxidation of lipids.

In Optimization of Enzymatic Activities in Malting of Oat by E. Hosseini, M. Kadivar and M. Shahedi …”Unlike other types of cereals, fat exists throughout the grain that possesses much lipase activity in its neighborhood and its native condition. During germination, the level of free fatty acids (FFAs) rises remarkably and the subsequent oxidation of these acids in storage of malt produces hydroxy acids which result in development of bitter taste.” Also in this article  Role of lipid reactions in quality of oat products. by Pekka Lehtinen and Simo Laakso  “In oat, a lipoperoxidase (EC1.11.1.-) activity is responsible for the conversion of hydroperoxides to relevant hydroxyacids (Biermann and Grosch 1979). These hydroxyacids are suggested to be partially responsible for the bitter taste associated with the enzymatically active oat (Biermann et al. 1980).”

If I’m understanding it correctly, the first article suggests that by reducing Lipase activity one can reduce this oxidative effect. Further on in the article there’s this . “Liukkonen et al [15] reported that lipase activity is sensitive to alkaline pH above 8 and it subsequently dropped.” However, the experiments in this article only show the effects of pH between 3 and 8. So this is why I thought I’d try increasing the steep pH to 8 or above to see if it would have any positive effect. It only took 0.4 grams of lye added to 4 Litres of water to change the pH from 6.3 to 9.5. It’s a minuscule amount but if you’re going to try this be careful when handling lye as it can burn your skin, always where gloves and always add the lye to the water never the other way around. I wonder if it’s the Sodium Hydroxide that has an effect on lipase or is it just the pH level and would naturally alkaline water have the same effect? I guess this will be my next experiment.

The beer is sort of yellowy brown. It’s got a nice head and mouthfeel and a creamy chocolatey sort of flavour. If I’m really looking for it, I can taste just a hint of the grassiness but it’s very faint and disappears as soon as I detect it. I can drink this beer without noticing it at all. I did a step mash for this one with an hour at 107F, 45 minutes at 125F and then an hour at 153F. My pre-boil gravity was pretty low at 1.036 which I think was due to my low germination rate of 70-75% and the fact that oats do not have the same diastatic power as barley. So I boiled for 2 hours to up the gravity 1.053. Had I only boiled an hour the gravity would be 1.045. Final gravity was 1.012 for an A.B.V. of 5.36 but a final volume of only 4 gallons. The colour comes from some of the roasting I did, it’s got 10 oz of toasted oat malt (biscuit)  1 hour at 350F.  4 oz of a chocolate oat malt +30 minutes at 425F and 4 oz of roasted oat malt +45 minutes at 450F. The malt itself was kilned quite high with an air-on temperature of 195F but the malt temp only reached 190F. This high kilning may also have contributed to my low numbers.


Posted by on July 25, 2019 in Oat Malt


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New Improved Malt Kiln for Diastatic Brown Malt

So you want to dry your malt with a wood fire (because it’s awesome) but you live in a townhouse, what to do?

I recently received some questions about diastatic brown malt from Ryan Pfeifle at Farm Power Malt in Montana who is experimenting with making it on a larger scale. His interest inspired me to give it another go. It’s been a while since my last experiments and I’ve learned a lot since then. I also figured it was about time I fix this darn barrel kiln sitting in my garage. My next post will be about brown malt and the beer I’ve made with it, this one will just focus on the kiln which is working really well. The “air on” temperature sits solidly at 225F with one large gassifier. I’ll be tweeking this perhaps with some venting to make it more adjustable. The malt temperature did not go higher than 206F which is great, it’s where I want it, hot enough for colour but low enough to preserve the enzymes.

So this is more like how I imagined it in the first place. The top of the original barrel acts as the heat disperser and the new half barrel sits perfectly inside the outer rim. I placed 4 bolts 9 inches up from the bottom of the half barrel to hold the Webber grill which is a good width to fit in a barrel. You can buy these at the Home Depot, they’re a little pricey for what it is at $30 but since I didn’t have any other ideas for the “grain basket” I had to buy it. I placed the thermometer just under the grain bed to measure my “air-on” temperature and I’ll use my probe thermometer for the malt temp.

The insulation was also a little pricey, there are probably other options for insulation. The stuff I bought is called Fiberfax which I bought at Greenbarn. For the inch thick blanket it’s about $8.50 a linear foot (comes in 2′ wide rolls) For the 1/2 inch it’s about $5 per foot. It’s rated to 2400F so it’s definitely good enough for this application. I bought 6 ft. of the 1″ thickness but I would have been fine with the 1/2 inch stuff. Beware though that this stuff is seriously toxic, you can see the fine silica particles in the air when you handle it. I wore a respirator and goggles when I worked with it. I originally glued the insulation to the inside of the barrel with something called sodium silicate which worked but I wanted to protect the insulation and I wanted to protect my malt from any particulate matter that the insulation might impart so I bought some steel sheet metal thin enough to bend into a circle to cover it. The sheet metal is just sitting on three 2″ bolts.

Once I make or find a proper basket for the grain I’ll be really happy with this kiln. There are times in my life when I feel like Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters with the Third Kind, the part where’s he’s obsessed with constructing Devil’s Tower in his living room.  “Well I guess you’ve noticed something a little strange with Dad” That’s when I know I’m doing something worthwhile, at least that’s what I tell myself.


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Posted by on January 5, 2019 in Brown malt, Malt kilns


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Vienna malt

Vienna malt with the roots on.

Vienna malt with the roots on.

It took me a while to find a good description of Vienna malt. I recently posted a good one from the American Handy Book of the Brewing Malting and Auxilliary Trades by Robert Wahl and Max Henius, so I thought I’d give it a try.

There are three differences between Pale malt and Vienna. First of all Vienna starts with a lower moisture content at 38-42%, like a lager malt. Pale malt is typically 42-44% It also has a slightly warmer germination during the last 4 or 5 days. A warmer germination will promote the development of proteolytic enzymes, the enzymes which act on protein. According to the Handy book the last 5 days of a 10 day germination for Vienna is no higher than 19C or 66F but the example given does go up to 20C. Pale malt is typically germinated at 15-18C  59F-64F or cooler in the example of English malting. Vienna malt is then kilned at a low temperature until it’s at what I’m going to assume is 10% moisture and then cured at increasing temperatures up to 100C  212F for the last hour. So a little hotter than pale which is cured at 80-90C  176F-194F. I often see Vienna malt lumped together with Munich malt in descriptions of malts but judging by this process it’s much closer to pale malt than Munich. Munich malt is more highly modified, it starts with a much higher moisture content. It’s also germinated at warmer temperatures which reach 25C  77F and when kilned it undergoes a stewing period to partially caramelize the malt.

Here are my notes from the book:

Moisture 38-42 % Couch temp. No higher than 66 F or 19 C

Germination period 9-10 days malt never allowed to mat depth 4.5-7 inches

Floor record example:

Temp. Day 1 50-57 F 10-14 C  7- 6.3 inches deep

Day 2 57-63.5F  14-17.5 C 6-5.5 inches deep

Day 3 66-68F  19-20 C  Next 5 days temp maintained at 68F or 20 C 4.7-5.5 inches deep. Turned every 6-8 hrs. Never allowed to mat.

Kilning: 24 hrs.

The malt is loaded on the upper floor  at 95-100 F  35-38 C all draughts being open until it is “air-dry” Unfortunately it does not state what the moisture content is at this point but seeing as how the temperature is increased only during the last 6 hrs. It’s pretty safe to assume that it’s under 10%

“The draught is checked and temperature raised to 144-156F  62-69 C” 

However, an example of a  kiln record  is shown which states that the air temperature goes up to 183 F  84 C during the final 2 hrs. and the malt temperature goes from 149 – 212 F  62-100 C during the last 6 hours. This doesn’t make much sense but the malt temperature is what we’re most concerned with and 100 C sounds about right for a malt that’s slightly darker than pale malt.

The last 6 hours of malt temperatures go like this: 149F 65C, 156F 69C, 171F 77C, 185F 85C, 200F 93C, 202F 95C, 212F 100C.


Store bought lager malt on left, my pale malt in centre, Vienna malt on right.

With my batch of Vienna I brought it inside at room temperature for 5 days after being in the garage at about 16C  61F for the first 5 days. The temperature in our place ranges from 17C  63F at night to 21C  70F during the day so a little on the warm side. It’s a kind of tricky trying to extend the germination to 10 days without the malt becoming over-modified and the acrospire growing too much. On day 6 I saw a couple of  acrospires breaking through the husk so I spread the malt out on a screen at a 1″ depth for two days. This dried out the malt enough to halt the growth. After that I put it back into a bin. At day ten I spread it out again with a fan on it at room temperature overnight. I did this instead of drying it at 35-38C 95-100F. By the next day the moisture content was around 10%, just the right amount to start curing. Small amounts of malt spread thin will dry much faster than the larger amounts stacked up in a real malt house kiln. I also skipped the first two temperature increments in the schedule and started the first hour at 170F  77C. That’s the lowest my oven goes, I could have used the hotplate but I was being too lazy to bring it out,  I figured it would not make a huge difference. I cured it for six hours raising the temperature every hour from 170F to 180F, 190F, 200F, 205F and finally 210F  ( 77C, 82C, 88C, 93C, 96C, 99C ) It’s only slightly darker than my pale malt but the aroma is quite different. It’s a very rich smell  like toasted almond butter, nutty and sweet. It has a nice toasty bread crust flavour. I imagine this would be a great base malt for darker ales, I haven’t tried this yet but drop me a comment if you’ve used Vienna as a base malt in an ale or stout.


Posted by on April 19, 2015 in Vienna malt


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Diastatic Brown Malt

As requested, thanks Andrew! diastatic brown malt, definitely the most interesting and most challenging malt to make. I experimented a lot with this one. My first challenge was to find out what it was. The easy definition: A dark malt that has been dried over burning wood or straw but still has diastatic power to convert itself. It predates the widespread use  of coke in malt kilns and predates the use of thermometers. Coke was used to dry malt as early as 1642 but was made more widely available when the means of coke production became more efficient in the later half of the 18th Century. So how did they determine the size of the fire and how dark it could be without destroying the enzymes in the barley? I did come across a few clues in the London and Country Brewer published in 1736 which in describing the production of malt states ” it then must be put on the Kiln to dry four, six or twelve Hours, according to the nature of the Malt, for the pale sort requires more leisure and less fire than the amber or brown sorts” This means that the Pale malt would be dried with a low fire for 12 and the brown malt with a hot fire for 4 hours.

There is another very informative passage about the types of screens used in malt kilns of that era, “There are several methods used in drying of Malts, as the Iron Plate-frame, the Tyle-frame, that are both full of little Holes: The Brass-wyred and Iron-wyred Frame, and the Hair-cloth; the Iron and Tyled one, were chiefly Invented for drying of brown Malts and saving of Fuel, for these when they come to be thorough hot will make the Corns crack and jump by the fierceness of their heat, so that they will be roasted or scorch’d in a little time, and after they are off the Kiln, to plump the body of the Corn and make it take the Eye, some will sprinkle water over it that it may meet with the better Market. But if such Malt is not used quickly, it will slacken and lose its Spirits to a great degree, and perhaps in half a Year or less may be taken by the Whools and spoiled: Such hasty dryings or scorchings are also apt to bitter the Malt by burning its skin, and therefore these Kilns are not so much used now as formerly: The Wyre-frames indeed are something better, yet they are apt to scorch the outward part of the Corn, that cannot be got off so soon as the Hair-cloth admits of, for these must be swept, when the other is only turned at once; however these last three ways are now in much request for drying pale and amber Malts, because their fire may be kept with more leisure, and the Malt more gradually and truer dyed, but by many the Hair-cloth is reckoned the best of all.”

The London and Country Brewer only refers to three types of malt produced at this time: Pale, Amber and Brown malt. These malts were also mixed with each other –

“At Bridport in Dorsetshire, I knew an Inn-keeper use half Pale and half Brown Malt for Brewing his Butt-beers, that, proved to my Palate the best I ever drank on the Road, which I think may be accounted for, in that the Pale being the slackest, and the Brown the hardest dryed, must produce a mellow good Drink by the help of a requisite Age, that will reduce those extreams to a proper Quality.”

There are some people who have researched this subject much more than I have – check out these blogs: The Perfect Pint and Shut Up About Barclay Perkins.

The second challenge: How the hell do I dry malt over fire! I live in a town house, our backyard is a common area shared by our neighbours so I couldn’t build anything or have a fire pit like the fellow did in The Perfect Pint but I found an answer thanks to countless hours of watching outdoor survival videos on Youtube. I could burn stuff in a camp stove and then contain that fire within a smoker so I could have some control over the heat. Initially I had planned to use straw pellets but at $15 per 2 pounds these are a burn. So I went with the wood pellets. Keep in mind that this is my first attempt at this malt so it turned out rather light, I didn’t want to go too dark and kill the enzymes. My next batch will be darker though as I plan to cure it at a higher temperature by using either more gas wood stoves or by burning chunks of maple wood. If you’re interested in making this malt there are some very informative threads on Jim’s Beer Kit page by Ben a.k.a. Fuggledog


Posted by on November 15, 2013 in Diastatic Brown Malt


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Information on Malting and Growing Barley and Other Grains

Here is a list of the known sites, papers and books that I have read to compile some of my information on malting. I will update this post whenever I find useful information.


Barley World, Oregon State University

Al Korzonas, “Malt Production: What makes Munich malt production unique” 

North Dakota State University

Brewer’s Market Guide

Castle Malting, Malt Descriptions

Absolute Homebrew

“Moisture-dependent physical properties of barley grains” International Journal of Agricultural and Biological Engineering

Brupaks guide to Grains

Shut Up About Barclay Perkins Blog

The Perfect Pint Blog

Milk the Funk Wiki Grain


Barley and Malt: Biology, Biochemistry, Technology.  Cook, A.H.

A Textbook of Brewing. Jean DeClerk

Malting and Brewing Science. Volumes 1 and 2. Briggs, Stevens, Young, Hough

Technology of Brewing and Malting. Wolfgang Kunze

Malts and Malting. Dennis E. Briggs

Brewing Science and Practice.  Briggs, Boulton, Brookes, Stevens 2004


The London and Country Brewer 1736

The Compleat Dealer’s Assistant 1760

The Theory and Practice of Malting and Brewing. By a Practical Brewer. William Creech 1793

The Barley and Scotch Bigg Report Thomson, Coventry and Hope (1806) Papers published 1836

 Brewing and Distilling. With Practical Instructions for Brewing Porter and Ale. Thomas Thomson, William Stewart 1849

Malt and Malting an Historical, Scientific and Practical Treatise. H, Stopes 1885

American Handy Book of the Brewing, Malting and Auxiliary Trades Robert Wahl, Max Henius 1902

Treatises on Brewing. Baverstock, James 1824

A Philosophical Treatise on Malting and Brewing George Adolphus Wigney 1823

 A Practical Treatise on Malting and Brewing. Ford, William 1862

The Maltster: A Compendious Treatise on the Art of Malting in All Its Branches. Loftus, W.R. 1876

Saladin Box/Pneumatic malting Scientific American Supplement. Vol.XXVII 1884

A catalogue of perforated tiles from grain drying kilns and malt kilns P. Crew

Malt kiln tiles in Gloucestershire A. Patrick

Use of Coke for Malting The Coke Oven Managers Association

 A Systematic Handbook of Practical Brewing E.R. Southby 1885

Brasserie et Malterie  P. Petit 1904

Seeds Sources:

Salt Spring Seeds

Growing Barley:

Nitrogen Fertilization of Winter Barley

Growth and Development Guide for Spring Barley

Understanding Malt Analysis Sheets Greg Noonan

Barley Disease Handbook Neate, S., McMullen, M. North Dakota State University. 2005

Growing Wheat:

A Comprehensive Guide to Wheat Management in Kentucky. University of Kentucky


Malting process optimization of spelt (Triticum spelta L.) for the brewing process  LWT – Food Science and Technology.  Volume 50, Issue 1, January 2013, Pages 99-109


Improving the evidence base on aflatoxin contamination and exposure in Africa  Commissioned by the ACP-EU Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) in collaboration with the African Union Commission – Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA). Okoth, S. (2016)

Aflatoxins in Sorghum, Sorghum Malt and Traditional Opaque Beer in Southern Malawi (Abstract only) Matumba, Limbikani & Monjerezi, Maurice & B. Khonga, Elenimo & D. Lakudzala, Deliwe. (2011)

Determination of Improved Steeping Conditions on Sorghum Malt  Dewar, Taylor, Berjak. (1996)

Effect of Germination Time, Temperature and Moisture on Malting of Sorghum Morrall, Boyd, Taylor. (1986)

Influence of Malting Conditions on Sorghum (Abstract only) Hassani, Zarnkow, Becker. (2013)

Current Developments in Malting and Brewing Trials with Sorghum in Nigeria: A Review A.C.Ogbonna. (2011)

Characteristics of African traditional beers brewed with sorghum malt: a review  Lyumugabe, Gros, Nzungize, Bajyana, Thonart. (2012)

Guide to Floor Malting Sorghum and Millets – University of Nebraska  Taylor, J. (2008)

More about Malting Sorghum – University of Nebraska  Taylor, J. (2010)

Malting of Sorghum: Further Studies on Factors influencing oc-Amylase Activity By J. A. N. Obeta, J. Okungbowa and L. I. Ezeogu (2000)

Alternative Cereal Processing Technologies- Sorghum Malting Lewis Iheanacho Ezeogu (pg 61) (2008)


Optimization of the malting process of oat (Avena sativa L.) as a raw material for fermented beverages  A. Muñoz-Insa*, M. Gastl, M. Zarnkow and T. Becker (2011)

Brewing with 100% Oat Malt  Journal of the Institute of Brewing
Volume 117, Issue 3, Version of Record online: 16 MAY 2012

Role of lipid reactions in quality of oat products Pekka Lehtinen, Simo Laakso Agricultural and Food Science 13(1-2):88-99 · September 2004

Optimization of Enzymatic Activities in Malting of Oat E. Hosseini, M. Kadivar and M. Shahedi World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology International Journal of Nutrition and Food Engineering Vol:4, No:7, 2010

Germination: a means to improve the functionality of oat Anu Kaukovirta-Norja, Annika Wilhelmson and Kaisa Poutanen Agriculture and Food Science Vol. 13 (2004): 100–112.

Papers and internet information:

Brumalt, Melanoidin Malt Honeymalt


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