Tag Archives: malting
Here’s an interesting book pointed out to me from a reader, thank’s Peter! It’s called The Theory and Practice of Malting and Brewing. By a Practical Brewer by William Creech You can read it here. The great thing about it is that it was published in 1793, a time that predates the use of Black Patent malt in 1817 (which would eventually replace diastatic brown malt) and it’s also a time where thermometers were used to record temperatures in Farenheit. The Farenheit scale was first introduced in 1724 so it is between these two dates that we can find books published about brewing that include temperatures used in the process of making malt and beer in a more pre-industrial era and by that I mean this predates the mechanization and increased scale of malting. So we get some very useful descriptions of malting and brewing practices that serve as a window into the past. What’s amazing about this book is all of the unique descriptions about brewing practices, things like adding the hops before the boil pg. 37 for a perceptible improvement in flavour. Hmmm gotta try that. Here’s a link to an article on first wort hopping.
There is also mention of using fresh hops for small beer on page 66. But more importantly, this is the first time I’ve seen mention of different colours of brown malt. They are referred to as Brown, Middling Brown, and High Brown. What?! This suggests that malt colour and therefore beer was not as inconsistent as one (being me) might have assumed. And if you’re into brewing historical beers check out the recipes included on page 60-72.
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
These are easy malts to make because they start out as pale malts and are lightly toasted. There are several ways to make them and there is plenty of information to do this on the internet, but I wanted to try it myself so that I could see and taste what effect the different times and temperatures had. Victory and Amber malts are pretty much the same and are a little darker than Biscuit. However, these malts will vary between malting companies. I found that the most pronounced roasted flavour came from a short roast at a high temperature. This is not surprising given the appearance of the malt. At 350F there is some significant darkening that occurs in a certain percentage of the grains, in other words, some grains look burnt, not charred, just well roasted. I found that soaking did not have much of an effect on the flavour, it just extended the kilning time. Because of this, it was not possible to get a light coloured biscuit malt after soaking. The flavour of the soaked grains was comparable to the grain roasted dry at a low temperature (250F) which was more mellow. Here are the times and temperatures I used to get malts with similar colours.
- 250F for 1 hour or
- 300F for 30 min or
- 350F for 20 min
- 250F for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or
- 300F for 45 minutes or
- 350F for 30 minutes or
- If soaked for 1 hour 350F for 45 minutes (or just until it’s dry)
- If soaked for 2 hours 250F for 3 hours (do not recommend)
Amber Malt: From Malt and Malting: An Historical , Scientific and Practical Treatise. H Stopes 1885 p. 159-161
Germinates as a pale malt
- Kilning: First 12 hrs. below 80F 26.6C
- End of hour 18 85F 29.4 C
- End of hour 20 125F 51.6C
- ” 21 140F 60C
- ” 22 160F 71C
- ” 23 180F 82C
- ” 24 200F 93C
- ” 25 220F 104.4C
- ” 26 240F 115.5C
- ” 26.5 250 121.1C
Stopes also recommends that the final curing stage (last 5-6 hrs) can be carried out with dry beechwood in the kiln for the best flavour.
My version seen in the video was to start with a pale malt and kiln at 200F for 1 hr. 220F for 1 hour 240F for an hour then 250F for an hour.
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 took a trip out to the Cedar Isle Farm in Agassiz B.C. to drop off some beer I made with the hulless barley they grew last summer. They were nice enough to give me 25 lbs. of CDC McGwire barley to play with – thanks again guys! The owners Diane and Jim farm 100 acres, 20 of which are dedicated to grain. They grow wheat, hulless oats, rye and now barley. The farm is also organic and sell their grain using the Community Supported Agriculture model. You pay a membership fee which entitles you to a share of the season’s harvest. They also sell their grain to a local bakery called the Bread Affair which is used in their “100 mile” loaf. I’m looking forward to paying them a visit during the summer!
CDC McGwire is not ideal for malting due to it’s high beta glucan content. It’s more for general eating purposes. There are better hulless barley’s which were specifically bred for malting like CDC Explus or Taylor 6 but they’re not used in the industry probably due to the fact that they’re harder to work with – hulless barley sticks to everything. Not a big deal when you’re malting at home. I also read that this variety is very low in protein so I figured I’d skip the protein rest and add a beta glucan rest. Unfortunately this was a mistake as you can see in the video, the beer turned out pretty cloudy. The first batch of malt was also a pilsner malt which was undermodified so it was a bit of an amateur mistake on my part not to include the protein rest.
The first beer was a Belgian Golden Strong ale which as the name implies comes in at 8% but it’s not boozy or hot. You wouldn’t know it’s as strong as it is based on the flavour. For this beer I also made a dextrin malt. The second beer is an I.P.A. and it’s full of galaxy and citra hops. I also made a kind of munich malt from a pale malt which tastes remarkably like brown toast with honey. The flavour of this malt was masked by the hops but I’ll post more on this idea later.