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Garden update July 18 2014

A little lodging, this time it's not a big deal.

A little lodging, this time it’s not a big deal.

If you take a close look at the green stalks on the right side of this bed you can see that they’re falling over. In this bed and one other one the chicken wire slipped down to about a foot from the ground. Fortunately the wire still kept the barley from touching the ground and I was able to lift the chicken wire up. I propped it up with a few sticks and the barley straightened out. My main concern is keeping the seed heads away from the mice – so far so good. The other beds are fine with no lodging, in fact this one is almost ready to harvest.

One more week.

One more week.

Here's a close up.

Here’s a close up.

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Posted by on July 19, 2014 in Garden videos

 

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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

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2013 in Diastatic Brown Malt

 

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2013 Final tally

DSCN8372

Maris Otter

Maris Otter

Overall this years yield was pretty pathetic, especially given how great everything was doing at the beginning. The mice and birds took at least 50% of the Conlon so I only ended up with 10 lbs. 7.5 oz of this variety. As soon as the seed heads came close to the ground they would take them. Also when I tied them together in an attempt to stop them from falling over I gave the birds a nice place to perch while they stole more grain. There is some good news though, I had great success with the Maris Otter, in fact that small little packet of 130 seeds yielded 1 lb 4 oz of grain, enough to plant all 6 beds next year. The Robust also did really well and yielded 4 lb 12 oz from the one 4×10 ft bed. Even though there were a lot of stalks that fell over the mice and birds didn’t touch any of it. I can only guess as to why they left it alone. I think since it is a six row variety the long hairs at the ends of the grain discouraged the mice. In  2 row barley these hairs and grain only come out the sides of the seed head but in a six row  the grains and their hairs surround the seed head and they are kind of prickly so perhaps this gave the Robust some added protection. The total yield for all of the varieties was 16 lbs 7.5 oz. from 240 sq. ft. of garden. If the Conlon had not fallen over I probably would have at least 10 more pounds. Oh well, there’s always next year.

The Golden Promise didn’t do so well in the pot. The stalks were very thin and weak and the seed heads just didn’t develop. You can see in the picture the grains are half the size of the Conlon barley. I didn’t even bother threshing these, there were just too few and too small.

Small underdeveloped seed head

Small underdeveloped seed head

The G.P. is on the left, Conlon on the right

The G.P. is on the left, Conlon on the right

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2013 in Garden videos

 

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2013 Planting

This year I’m planting Conlon, Robust, and about 130 seeds each of Maris Otter and Golden Promise. This video shows how a little Remay can make a huge difference. It not only protects the young plants from bugs but it creates a greenhouse effect and warms the soil so the plants grow faster. I had enough remay to cover 4 of the 6 beds. I’m planning to make some “wind” malt (air dried not kilned) as well as a more authentic brown malt.  I also want to improve my caramel malt procedure. Does anyone have any malt requests?

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2013 in Garden videos

 

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My hop oast/ malt kiln/ dehydrator

Sorry folks, I had neglected to put this video on my blog. This video shows how I utilize my oven for a malt kiln. It also works for a hop oast and a food dehydrator. I bought the hot plate at a second hand thrift store. Make sure you get one with a temperature control dial.

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2012 in Hop Oast / Malt Kiln

 

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