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Garden Update Spring 2018

It’s been way too long since I’ve posted anything. I’ve been super busy with a new job but I still have plenty of malting projects on the go and many more ideas I want to try. I’m currently brewing an ale made from a malt that germinated for 14 days. I also made malt with an accelerated schedule that took only 5 days start to finish as well as brewing a small beer with 100% unmalted barley, but more on these later.

Firstly, I want to thank all the people that have purchased one of my books. I’m quite happy with how the Malting Log book turned out and I’ve been using it for the last few batches of malt that I’ve made. I have to say it’s pretty darn handy.

I did have some problems formatting the Malting At Home book as a reviewer on Amazon has pointed out (the rest of the review is very positive so thank-you Jeremiah!). For some reason, Amazon direct publishing does not, at this time, recognize Google documents. So I had to turn my google documents into  Word documents and when I did this the formatting gets really screwy. I’ve corrected the spacing issues as best as I can but it’s not perfect. I’m sure there are better ways to do this but if you’re planning on self-publishing I would highly recommend starting with Word right from the start. I also wanted more pictures but knowing I wouldn’t have the time available for at least four months I decided to get it out sooner than later. I am however very happy with all of the recipes I’ve managed to compile and I was pretty excited when I realized I could use Google translate to read some German and French texts that included some very useful information. I think having all these recipes in one book is handy because surprisingly most of the big expensive modern text books are kind of lacking in actual recipes or kilning schedules.

I managed to get to the garden yesterday to plant this years barley. I actually had more Chevalier seed than expected and managed to plant 3 beds with Chevalier. I planted another 3 beds with Maris Otter and there’s a narrow bed that I had planted with the small amount of Bere seed I had.

From the other side looking north.

 

As you can see I’m not taking any chances here and covered everything to prevent the birds and squirrels from digging out the seeds. I’ll remove the covers in about two weeks.

 

 

 

As I was prepping the soil and removing some weeds I pulled out some beets that were perfectly preserved from last year. They had been covered up with a pile of weeds and straw. We ate them that night and they were like new. We also had some kale shoots which are very mild and not bitter at all. Here’s a shot of the kale “tree” I left in the garden over winter. I also planted a Fuji apple tree on the north side of the garden.

More kale!

Kale shoots

Fuji apple tree

Beets

In total I have about 530 square feet of barley planted this year and I’m hoping to get about 40 lbs. of barley from this.

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Posted by on March 26, 2018 in Garden videos

 

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The Perfect Malt?

I recently read an interesting research article pointed out to me by Bleepbloop, thanks Bleepbloop! The article is from China and published in the Wiley Online Library by The Institute of Brewing and Distilling. The title is a doozy: “Optimization of kilning progress for equilibrating multiple parameters that strictly affect malt flavour and sensory evaluation” The researchers objective was to determine what times and temperatures create the “perfect malt”. Unfortunately, to read the whole thing you have to rent it for $6 but you can get the main idea from the summary.

In their experiments they measured the levels of  positive and negative flavour compounds in relation to drying times (referred to as withering time in the article) and curing time and temperature. The compounds they were measuring were lipid oxydation or LOX activity, nonenal potential, TBZ (content of carbonyl compounds) methional, furfural, hexanol and phenylacetaldehyde. All of which I believe contribute to either stale or cardboard flavours. They also measured levels of H-hydroxy-2,5-dimethyl-3(2H) or HDMF which is the main contributor to sweetness and malty aroma. As well malt samples were given a sensory score rated by 7 professional sensory panellists from the Tsingtao Brewery

After plotting their data they’ve concluded that the ideal drying time is 14 hours: 1 hr at 45C, 5 hrs. at 55C, 5 hrs. at 65C, 3 hrs at 76C, 50% re-used air at 76C. Note: given the high temperatures I’m assuming that these would be the kiln temperatures below the bed or the “air-on” temperatures. Curing temperature is 86.35C for 3.19 hours.

Most of the article describes their methodology and what kind of testing was used for each flavour compound and it doesn’t go into that much detail about the effects of each compound. They also specify that these results would be different for different varieties of barley. The variety they were using was Gairdner barley grown in Australia. There is a lot of information in this article I don’t understand but the conclusion is interesting. I wish they had included the malt temperature during the kilning because without it, it’s impossible to replicate exactly. I do wonder how detectable these flavours are and at what point are they noticeable? The curing temperatures tested ranged from 84C to 90C, curing times ranges from 2.5-3.5 hours and drying times measured ranged from 10-14 hours. Not a wide range at all, in fact, they kind of seem on the low end of the scale. Unfortunately, there was no mention of diastatic power in the article as the study just focussed on flavour and there was no mention of moisture contents. I also find it strange that they did not include the kilning schedules for the 10 and 12 hour kilned malts. Are we to assume that the temperature increases coincided with the same moisture contents in each sample? There seems to be some key information missing here that would have made this article more useful.

This research paper makes me wonder if “perfect” is something that is worth achieving or does this goal bring with it the risk of industrial uniformity. It still seems to me that there are enough variables involved that what is considered perfect is still subjective. Of course, it’s interesting to see what is at play when making malt and it’s good to know that  the levels of those flavour compounds that cause stale or cardboard flavours are measurable. However, I have never noticed these flavours in my malts so it’s not something I’ve ever worried about. I have tried this schedule with my barley, knowing that I couldn’t actually replicate their conditions without using the same equipment, and I found I needed another hour or two curing time to become more friable, meaning my malt was not dry enough. As it was, the roots were still a little flexible and hard to shake off. It would be interesting to see this same experiment done on a greater scale, that is with wider temperature and kilning time ranges. I’m sure for large scale maltsters this is a useful article but for myself I think I prefer variety, good or bad. The best beer I’ve ever had was the pale ale I made from the diastatic brown malt that was dried over fire, very far from scientifically “perfect” I’m sure but beyond perfect in my mind.

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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New Malt Kiln

This project was way overdue, maybe a few years overdue, but I finally built something to kiln in besides my oven. As I stated in the video using the oven just became too inconvenient. My wife also makes custom order cakes and she’s been getting more orders lately so I had to free up the oven.

So far I’ve only done one small batch of Brumalt in it and I was impressed by how well it worked. The temperature stayed consistent and with only two vent holes open the heat stayed in and there was plenty of airflow. I didn’t even turn the fan on and I think I might only have to when I’m doing larger batches over 5 lbs. This small 2.5lb batch of  brumalt dried within 6 hours which is quite fast and it was so nice to have it stew for 18 hours without having to worry about someone turning the oven on accidentally (which has happened).

One thing I might add is something to disperse the heat when I’m using screens. The hot plate sits in the center of the kiln and it seems that the heat is more concentrated in the center although I haven’t measured this yet. I’m not concerned when the perforated steel tray is in there because these holes give an open area of 40% so the tray itself seems to disperse the heat well enough. I may just add a spare piece of the tray material under the screen to disperse the heat.

I don’t have any carpentry experience so I’m sure there are better ways to build a box but here are the dimensions that I used.  The front and back are 24″ by 24″  The sides are 20″ by 24″  Because I’m using 3/4 ” plywood the top and bottom dimensions are 20″ by 25 1/2″.  It’s held together with 1 1/2 ” drywall screws with a little bit of wood glue. The 6 vent holes are 1 1/2 ” which I used a hole cutter bit on my drill to cut out. I pre-drilled some holes for the vent covers and then on the on the covers themselves I drilled holes wide enough to accommodate the 1 1/4″ screws so the covers could move without releasing the screw from the main lid. I had the cutting done at the Home Depot because it takes them a few seconds to get a perfectly straight cut. The piano hinge is also from the Home Depot. For the fan hole I used a jigsaw to cut a round hole and it’s not pretty, luckily it’s covered up by the fan. 

 

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2015 in Hop Oast / Malt Kiln, 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 long period at 50C  122F without ventilation.

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.

DSC01311

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.

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2015 in Vienna malt

 

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Storing hops

 

DSCN0696 Kinda looks like a drug bust in here. My hop plants in my back yard really didn’t amount to much, 3 oz. of fuggles and 4.5 oz. of Brewers Gold. They definitely need bigger pots but I would rather find a spot in the ground somewhere. The two stacks on the right are the River road hops. I have 17 oz. of those ones and you can tell I finally got the hang of my new vacuum sealer. I picked it up at Walmart for about $100. There are cheaper ones and there are more expensive ones but this brand has a lot of good reviews and I didn’t want to go over $100.  Even though I don’t have anything to compare it with, having never used one of these things it certainly did the job and it’s easy to use. The suctioning took about 15 seconds for a one ounce bag and it flattened it to less than a quarter of an inch. The trick is to flatten it with your hands a little as the suctioning is happening otherwise your package ends up in a crinkly ball which will take up more space in your freezer. Also you have to be careful of the stems which can poke through the plastic and allow air in. I think it was a good investment and I’ll use it for other things as well. There’s no way I could have stored all those hops in our small freezer without it. This isn’t meant to be an advertisement for this brand ( I’m not receiving any money from this company) but more for vacuum sealers in general as a great way to store hops. Cheers and happy brewing!

 

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2014 in Garden videos

 

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Hop Heaven

DSCN0672It was literally raining hops all around me, they were bouncing off my head as I was grabbing them off the vine by the handful. A cloud of lupulin dust could be seen floating in the air and the smell of hops was intoxicating. I was in hop heaven but this was not a dream, it actually happened! I just wish I had more time to show this in the video. There were sooo many hops at this site. I’m not sure what variety they are, could be B.C. Goldings or any number of varieties that were grown here in the Fraser Valley. This area once had a thriving hop industry that started in the 1890’s and continued up until the mid 1990’s. So if you see hops growing at the side of the road beside a farm they could be remnants of a hop yard. Tonight I think I’ll pick up a vacuum sealer to package these up once they’re dry.

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2014 in Garden videos

 

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Threshing

The last thing I want to do is to discourage anyone from trying to grow their own grain. I realize that harvesting my grain by hand looked pretty time consuming and downright crazy (it really wasn’t that bad). So  this week I came across an awesome time saving idea to thresh small amounts of grain. I’ll be honest I wasn’t looking forward to threshing this years crop in pillow cases like I’ve done before. This idea utilizes cheap simple things you might already have around the house. You’ll need a 5 gallon bucket with a lid, a drill, a long piece of metal that can fit on to your drill or a paint mixer and two pieces of chain. If you use a paint mixer it’s easy to attach the chain with a couple of carabiners or chain links. I saw this idea on one of Paul Wheatons videos of Brian Kerkvliets farm.

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2014 in Garden videos, threshing

 

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