Tag Archives: malting barley
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.
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.
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.
It’s finally here all the recipes on the blog and more, in one convenient place. Yes you can make malt at home, it’s not only possible but it’s a lot of fun. Take your home brewing to the next level!
Check out the table of contents:
Table of Contents 2
Malting Simplified 7
Getting started 10
Equipment and some Terminology 10
Steeping, Germination, Kilning and Curing 16
Moisture Content 21
Growing and Harvesting 24
Threshing and Winnowing 33
Feed Barley 35
Recipes: Pale Malt 39
Pilsner/ Lager Malt 43
Historical Malting 47
Modern Malting 53
Vienna Malt 56
Toasted Malts 58
Victory, Biscuit and Amber 58
The Melanoidin Family 61
Aromatic, Munich, and Melanoidin Malts 61
Munich Malt 63
Melanoidin/ Brumalt 72
Caramel Malts 74
Special B Type Malt 76
Making Caramel malt from Pale malt 77
Roasted Malts 78
Chocolate, Roasted Malt, Roasted Barley 78
Debittered Black Patent Malt 80
Brown Malts 82
Belgian Malt for Lambic 89
Acid Malt 90
Spelt and Emmer 93
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)
The Barley and Scotch Bigg Report of 1806 and the influence of a long un-aerated steep on germination time
I recently came across a significant study about brewing and malting that was written in 1806 and it is fascinating. It’s entitled: Report of the Experiments made, by the Direction of the Honourable Board of Excise in Scotland to ascertain the relative Qualities of Malt made from Barley and Scotch Bigg. You can read it here on page 9 (press “preview book”) I am not a beer historian but I believe this is one of the first large-scale surveys conducted for the brewing industry using scientific methods in England. In 1806 Thomas Thomson, along with authors Hope and Coventry conducted a series of experiments comparing the qualities of Barley to that of Scottish Bigg in order to reduce the tax on Bigg since it was thought to make a lower quality malt for brewing and distilling. Bigg is another name for Bere or Bear, an old variety of six-row barley believed to have been introduced to Britain by the Vikings in the 8th or 9th century. It grows faster than barley so it can be sown later and harvested earlier and is ideal for climates with a short growing season. Their findings were published in a report presented to the House of Commons. They concluded that Bigg was 8-14% less productive than English Barley (depending on which author you asked) and proposed that the tax on Brigg should be reduced by one-third. Their survey was very comprehensive collecting the data from malting, brewing and distilling about 36,000 lbs. of English barley, 41,000 lbs. of Scottish barley and 55,500 lbs. of Scottish Bigg. This became a publication that would be referred to for years to come. You can find sections of the report quoted directly 40 years later in The Scottish Ale Brewer and Practical Maltster pg.208 by W.H. Roberts in 1846. By the way, it was Thomas Thomson who devised an accurate hydrometer for this study which was specific for brewing and distilling called the Allan’s Saccharometer.
Of course what I found the most interesting is the section on malting. This is the earliest accurate written survey (in English) that I’m aware of with steep times, moisture content, germination temperature, kilning times and malt temperatures in actual malthouses. I must say the numbers are pretty surprising, like the 20 day germination times and the rather low kilning temperatures. By having this data we’re getting an insight into the brewing and malting methods of the time. For example, the practice described in the report for judging if barley has been steeped enough was to squeeze a grain end to end, if it was soft enough to be crushed then it was deemed to have enough moisture for germination. (This method is also described in the London and Country Brewer of 1736.) But the report also details the weight increase after steeping of each sample (pg 23) and using these numbers we can figure out the moisture contents which, low and behold, were the same ranges of moisture contents used today, 39%-46%. That’s a pretty good “rule of thumb”. We don’t know the initial moisture content of all the barley used in the report but one sample was dried out and according to the weights given had a moisture content of 12.5 %. This is the figure I used in the calculation since any barley that’s properly dried and meant to last in storage would have had a moisture content under 14% so it’s likely a good average number. I think I’ll try this method on my next batch of malt and compare it to my calculated moisture contents.
Even though moisture contents were the same, steep times were very long ranging from 44 hours to 116 hours with the averages being 81 hours for English barley, 76 hours for Scottish barley and 71.5 hours for Bigg. Maltsters were actually required to steep not less than 40 hours by law otherwise they would be fined. The report does mention water changes occurring on pg 20. “Some Maltmen change the water once or twice, while the grain is in the steep, others not at all” I was curious to know what effects such a long steep has on germination and how this does not kill the grain? I found my answer in Malting and Brewing Science pg 48 (Hough, Briggs,Stevens 1971) ” The traditional English practice of long steeps without aeration tends to stifle the grain, and is said to hold back “bolters” so producing more even germination on the floor. As already noted prolonged steeping induces in barley a condition similar to water sensitivity.” Water sensitivity is a condition where the barley will not germinate while there is a surface film of moisture on the grain. This explains why with this method chitting occurs so late, after 4 days according to the report ! When using air rests in the steep regimen chitting often begins before steeping is finished leading to a rapid uptake of water. In describing highly aerated steeping Hough, Briggs, and Stevens state ” Such extreme aeration is probably too costly to use as a routine measure. Particularaly in floor malting, the vigorous growth, with the production of heat, is liable to get out of control, leading to high malting losses…”
Since the germination starts so late with the traditional method it’s safe to assume that the grain will be drier while it is growing thus slowing things down even more. I always wondered why I could not replicate these long germination times using commercial steeping schedules. Every time I tried, my barley would be on the verge of bolting on day 7. As to the wide ranges of times in the report, a major factor in the rate of absorption of water is temperature as well as variety and quality of barley. Also the fact that these samples were carried out by different maltsters could explain some of the variance as well, according to Thomson “They seem to be regulated not so much by any determinate plan, as by custom, or perhaps, in some cases, by caprice.”
On Germination: The times from when the barley was cast onto the floor from the steep tank to the time it was deemed ready ranged from 12 days to 20 for brewing. Shorter times of 8 and 10 days were for distillation. The average for brewing was 14 days for the good quality barley. As mentioned the growth of the acrospire described in the report and in other historical texts was much slower. On page 30 there is a description of acrospires usually reaching only half the length of the grain on days 7-9. It has been my experience that acrospires are at this length after 3-4 days, this makes sense given the extra 4 days required to chit. One way malt is judged to be modified is when the starch turns into a smooth chalky paste, which today happens on day 5-8 (for a pale malt) depending on temperature and barley variety. The same is true for traditional malt and usually occurs when the acrospire is 4/5ths the length of the grain. There is a good description of determining the modification of traditional malt in the 1854 Encyclopaedia Brittanica on Brewing pg 322 which describes the malt undergoing two stages of apparent modification, the “first free” occuring on day 9 – 10 where the grain will feel chalky. At this stage the malt will produce “tolerable” beer. Then the grain hardens once again for another few days until the acrospire has reached 4/5ths the length of the grain usually happening on day 14. It also mentions English germination times averaging 14 days at 62 F and in Scotland 16-20 days at 55 F.
Another highlight of this report are the kiln temperatures, but I’ll save that one for another post.
Have fun reading these links and jumping down this rabbit hole!
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.
I’m often asked “How soon can I use my malt after kilning it or roasting it?” I’ve read a lot of literature that states the malt needs to rest before being used, but I haven’t found a really good answer as to why or what changes happen to the malt during this resting period. In John Malletts book Malt he states that “Freshly kilned malt has poor performance in the brewhouse (most likely because of uneven moisture distribution throughout the batch)”. Apparently, milling and lautering are easier when moisture levels have “equalized”. Jean DeClerck in A Textbook of Brewing describes claims that freshly kilned malt is said to saccharify less and give a turbid wort and may also give rise to a poor fermentation and colloidal haze in the beer. He goes on to state that there is not much scientific data to back this claim but theorizes that it might have something to do with the slight re-absorption of moisture. He also points out that there has been shown to be a rise in diastatic power during the storage period and suggests that this is due to the liberation of amylase enzymes from “some kind of combination.” Recently I came across this article from1979 by H. Rennie and K. Ball on the Influence of Malt Storage on Wort Seperation. By measuring the pressure of flow through the mash beds of new malt vs. aged malt they concluded that there is a significant difference in wort separation after three weeks of aging. Personally I haven’t noticed any problems using malt soon after kilning but I haven’t done any side by side comparisons so I can’t really say for sure if it makes a difference, this might be worth another blog post. But if you can wait the three weeks, then why not it, won’t hurt.
However for roasted malts I can say with certainty that using freshly roasted malts will give you better flavour than anything you can buy in a store. I often use freshly roasted malt and barley and I think it has greatly improved my beers. The flavour of malt or barley right after it’s roasted is rich and bold. The flavour of most of the roasted stuff I’ve bought in comparison is cardboardy and stale. If you had the choice of drinking coffee made from freshly roasted beans or from a can of store bought coffee, I think most would agree, the freshly roasted stuff is going to be better.
In this video I make debittered black malt by using hulled barley. This is barley that has had it’s husk removed. Not the same as pearled barley, that’s processed even further. It was hard to find, I had to drive 40 minutes to get it but it should make for a few experiments. The tea I made with it tasted really good, it’s an even better caffeine free coffee substitute than roasted barley because it’s smoother.
For the hulled barley malt:
- Steeped to 42% at 10C 50F
- Germinated 5 days at 13C 55F
- 24 hours with fan at room temp 21C 70F
- 2 hours at 175F (79C)
- 1 hour at 185F (85C)
- 2 hours at 190F (88C)
Debittered Black Patent
- Hulled barley malt roasted at 375F for 1 hour then 30 min at 450F (232C) for a Carafa II style roast 1 hour at 375F then 15 min at 450F (232C).