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Tag Archives: malting

Lightly Toasted Malts, Victory, Amber and Biscuit

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.

Biscuit:

  1.  250F for 1 hour or
  2.  300F for 30 min or
  3.  350F for 20 min

Victory and Amber

  1.  250F for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or
  2.  300F for 45 minutes or
  3.  350F for 30 minutes or
  4.  If soaked for 1 hour 350F for 45 minutes (or just until it’s dry)
  5.  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.

 
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Posted by on March 6, 2017 in Amber malt, Biscuit malt, Victory malt

 

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The Barley and Scotch Bigg Report of 1806 and the influence of a long un-aerated steep on germination time

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Thomas Thomson

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.

2-row barley and 6-row Bere

2-row barley and 6-row Bere or Bigg

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!

 

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2017 in History

 

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Hulless barley, locally grown

Cedar Isle Farm

Cedar Isle Farm

Update: Jan. 3 the I.P.A. is clarifying! Brew day was Nov 28 2016. My new years resolution is to be more patient.

Update: Jan. 3 the I.P.A. is clarifying! Brew day was Nov 28 2016. My new years resolution is to be more patient.

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.One of the fields 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.

Yes we do get snow on the west coast.

Yes, we do get snow on the west coast.

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.

 

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2016 in Hulless barley

 

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Feed Barley I.P.A.

DSC02593

Here’s what I’ve done with some of that feed barley I malted a little while ago. I know an I.P.A. is not the best beer to judge malt quality, the hops mask a lot of the malt character but I felt like drinking an I.P.A. so I made one, so don’t judge!

It’s super tasty, I’m loving these Galaxy hops. I also dry-hopped with Mosaic. There’s a dose of peach up front followed by some citrus and ending with a strong piney bitterness that reminds you you’re drinking beer, not sangria.

I used quite a bit of caramel malt and some honey as well so it may be too malty for the style but I think it’s balanced and for me the sweetness seems to accentuate the fruity character of the hops.The Mosaic hops were sent to me from John from his families hop farm in Washington “thanks John!”

It has a nicely rounded mouth feel and as you can see in the picture a creamy head that likes to linger. O.G. was 1.059  F.G. 1.013 According to Beer Tools my efficiency was 80% What was also surprising is that I had full conversion in one hour.  Being more patient than I used to be with the germination and waiting until it’s really well modified has obviously helped in developing the enzymes in the malt.

If there is a possible flaw it has to do with a faint hint of phenolic flavour that I detected in the last beer I had which would be pretty disappointing. I can barely taste it so I don’t really care but I’ve sent this one off to be judged at the local competition, so we’ll see what the judges say about it in a few weeks. The possible source may be my water. I tried using tap water treated with half a campden tablet overnight. This is the first time I’ve tried this. Has anybody else experienced an issue with this method?

Update: This beer scored pretty low at the competition. It received a 29/50 from one judge and a 31/50 from another. However, it’s main flaw was stylistic -not enough hops and too sweet. I’m usually good at taking criticism, but I do disagree that it was low in hop flavour. Maybe the Galaxy hops threw them off? I would say they’re more peachy than citrusy but this was not noticed. According to Beer Tools this beer should have had 78 IBU’s which does not include the 2 oz of Mosaic that I dry-hopped for 5 days. Oh well.  Here’s what the judge who gave me the 29 had to say:

Aroma: Moderate grainy toasty malt. Not a lot of hops. Some citrus but very faint. No DMS, maybe diacetyl, low fruity esters. 7/12

Appearance: Hazy orange amber. Off-white moderate creamy head. Retention is pretty good. Leaves some lacing. 3/3

Flavour: Moderate caramel toasted bread crust. Hops are very faint. Bitterness is moderately low. Finishes sweet and the sweetness lingers in the aftertaste. some diacetyl maybe and low fruity esters. Moderately low alcohol. 11/20

Mouthfeel: Medium strong body with medium carbonation. Alcohol warmth is low and smooth. No astringency. A little cloying from sweetness. 3/5

Overall Impression: More like an English P.A. It feels a little under attenuated with way too high sweetness for the style. I also got some caramel which I sometimes mix with diacetyl. I didn’t feel any slickness in the mouth so I assume it was caramel which is fine but it was a little high. If you used some specialty malts it might be better to reduce them . Also the hop flavour and … was lacking a little. ( I could not make out a word, the guys writing was terrible)  5/10

At least there were no obvious off flavours. Looking at the recipe it probably was too sweet and malty. I used 11 lbs of pale. 1 lb. of caramel and 12 oz. of my brumalt. I mashed in at 143F for 15 min and decocted a gallon of mash to get to 152F for 1 hour. The final gravity was 1.013 making the ABV 6.09%

 

 

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2016 in Feed barley, The beers

 

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Garden Update

 

Black Einkorn Wheat

Black Einkorn Wheat

Looks a little sparse but at least it’s growing. This picture and the one of the barley was taken on April 10 so it’s a little bigger now. I’ve got one 4 ft. by 10 ft. bed of Einkorn wheat and about 500 sq. ft. of Maris Otter this year so double the square footage from last year.  Einkorn wheat is one of the oldest domesticated grain varieties dating back 10,000 years. It also keeps it’s hull like barley, so even though it must be a pain to process for food it should be great to brew with. Theoretically that is, I haven’t tried it yet. One potential problem is the amount of protein in this grain, a whopping 18% which is twice that of a good malting barley. That’s more protein than some ground beef! So I’m expecting something pretty hazy. According to this study it’s also high in beta carotene and Vitamin A, that’s kind of a bonus. Here’s a good description of Einkorn that also includes some recipes and here’s a description of some other ancient grains worth experimenting with if you can find them. Also check out this fantastic article all about hulled wheat 

This picture of the barley was taken on the same day

Maris Otter

Maris Otter

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2016 in Einkorn Wheat, Garden videos

 

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Brumalt, Honey malt, Melanoidin malt Part 2

Comparing some malts

Comparing some malts

This malt has been a real challenge. I’ve tried to make it 10 times varying the process each time. My goal has been to make a malt that tastes like Honey malt. So far I’ve come close but not close enough. I wanted to re-do this one as well because a few people had asked me and I was wondering myself, what the difference was between Brumalt and a dark Munich or Aromatic malt.  I don’t have much information on Brumalt in the textbooks that I have so I’ve been doing this mostly by trial and error. I’ve been measuring my results with store bought malts (Honey and melanoidin) comparing pH, colour,  extract and flavour.

As you may know Honey malt is made by the Gambrinus malting company right here in my home province of British Columbia Canada so I had to ask if they would give me any information on how it’s made. They wouldn’t of course, the recipe is a closely guarded secret but they were nice enough to give me a tour of the plant which you can see here. Like the name says it tastes like honey but it’s a dark honey flavour and has an almost wine-like fermented quality to it.

Barley recently emptied from the steep tank to a Saladin box at Gambrinus Malting Ltd.

Barley recently emptied from the steep tank to a Saladin box at Gambrinus Malting Ltd.

The first thing I noticed when comparing malts is that store bought melanoidin and Honey malt have a lower pH than Aromatic malt or a Munich of a similar Lovibond. So what causes this low pH if it’s not the colour?

According to the descriptions I’ve read, after a 6 day germination the green brumalt is piled up and covered with a tarpaulin or if it’s made in a box system all ventillation is cut off and the malt heats up to as much as 50C due to respiration, usually within 24 hours. (Munich is only allowed to reach 25 C). Once enough carbon dioxide builds up the malt stops growing and cools down but the enzymes continue to develop which create a malt with a lot of “low molecular weight sugars and amino acids” (Kunz 2004 p.180)  In Malts and Malting, Briggs states that this phase lasts 30-40 hours (Briggs 1998 p. 714) Kunz states 36 hours.

A few more details in Brewing and Malting include a moisture content of 48% and an increase in temperature during the last 36 hours of germination to 40-50C. Sometimes heat was added “…with a low flame”  Kunz also states “Melanoidin malt… contributes, by virtue of it’s low pH to flavour stability…” (Kunz 2004 p. 180)

In Jean DeClercks A Textbook of Brewing he describes the practice of “Thickening the Piece” “…used for the preparation of malts with a rich aroma. It simply consists of making the piece into a thick heap on the last two days of flooring. The temperature rises to 50C and enzymatic activity becomes very intense. Pre-formed sugars are formed in large amounts and there is considerable proteolysis.” (DeClerck 1957 p.177) Something else jumped out at me in the DeClerck text when he described an investigation carried out by Luers and Gottschneider on the effects of different proportions of CO2 on malting. With 20% CO2 in the air during germination the presence of ethanol was detected. (DeClerck 1957 p 175) Is this why I’m detecting a wine-like fermented flavour and aroma from Honey malt?

A while ago I made an acid malt by placing green malt into a sealed ziploc bag keeping it warm at 35-40C for 36 hours.  The ideal environment to promote the growth of Lactobacillus bacteria which is naturally present on the husks, is at 37C in an anaerobic environment.  So it makes sense that some amount of acidification is happening during this couching phase of the brumalt process.

In order to mimic these natural occurrences on a small scale I had to enclose the malt in a ziploc bag to seal out the oxygen. I then added some heat to keep the temperature at 37C This worked well and I was able to get a malt with the pH at the same level as Honey malt after 16 hours at 37C before raising the temperature to 50C to stew. But I wanted to see if I could make it in a way that was closer to the descriptions.  I tried it once in a small cooler loosely covered and the temperature rose to 42C due to respiration, but it took three days and I was concerned that the malt would overgrow. When this happens the malt will taste bitter and sprouty. I then bagged the grain for a period to acidify it just like before but this time it didn’t work. After kilning the pH was not lower, I thought that perhaps the hot couching may have killed off the  bacteria.

Honey malt left, my brumalt center, batch #7 on right. 18 hr stew at 50C vs 8 hr.

Honey malt left, my brumalt center, batch #7 on right. 18 hr stew at 50C vs 8 hr.

PH is also affected by colour of course, generally speaking the darker the malt the lower the pH, but a characteristic of Honey malt is that it lacks the roasted or toasty flavours you would get from a dark malt due to the lower curing temperature. The colour comes from the melanoidins developed during stewing.  When you add a stewing phase at  50C 122F proteolytic enzymes break down the proteins into sugars and amino acids which when combined with heat in a moist environment create melanoidins which give you malty flavours and colour. You can control the amount of colour by varying the time your malt spends at this stewing phase. After experimenting I found that 8 hours at 50C will give me a colour around 25-30 L, similar to Honey malt. Of course that will vary with the barley used and the amount of protein in the grain. Roasted malts on the other hand which are created when the malt is dry and at a higher temperature will give you more roasted flavours, sort of like the formation of toast vs. bread crust.

DSC02148

Comparing pH of my brumalt to Honey malt – just pure luck that they’re exactly the same, other batches are not.

DSC02150One test that I’ve been using to compare malts is meant to measure the soluble sugar and extract potential (sort of). It’s not a scientific test and not very consistent but since it’s just comparative it does give some insight as to how a malt is made. I’ve been using this test because it’s quick. A measured amount of grain (1.6 oz) is weighed and crushed and mixed with 250 mL of boiling water. The use of boiling water was meant to inactivate the enzymes but since the temperature of the water drops as it’s added to the sample some of the enzymes  survive and end up converting some of the starches.The sample is allowed to settle and cool and then is measured with a refractometer.

In a true cold water extract test the water is mixed with a solution of ammonia to inactivate the enzymes. Cold water extracts are used to measure the amount of soluble sugars or “pre-formed sugars” there are, which tells you how well modified a malt is, the higher the number the more thorough the modification.

The results that I’ve gotten just using boiling water are quite telling. Honey malt gets a very high brix number similar to a pale malt that I made. My Brumalt was a close second, Munich scored lower and caramel malt scores very low.  So since this test is actually showing us the diastatic power or even the extract potential it would lead me to believe that honey malt is kilned at lower temperature than Munich. Keeping the kilning temperature below 50C until the moisture content is below 10% will not destroy as many enzymes.

In a true hot water extract test the malt is mashed according to a very specific schedule and what you find out is the potential extract of a malt.  I tried my own version of this test as well with small 50g samples comparing Honey malt, Munich 30L, Aromatic, Melanoidin and my own. Although my test was crudely done Honey malt still came out on top with the highest brix reading, mine was still second. 

Here are some of the things I’ve tried with these these test batches:

Germination temperatures, 1. warm throughout, 2. warm during the last 3 days and 3. warm for the last day only.  Warm germination temperatures during the final phase of germination promote the development of proteolytic enzymes, the enzymes which act on proteins. From what I’ve read the longer the germination the more enzymes will develop and to have a long germination the temperature must be kept at 13C or 55F.  The warmer the germination the faster the grain grows. What seems to work best (for my barley) is 6 days at 13 then a day at 22C.

Couching, I’ve tried a few different lengths of time to get a lower pH and determined that with my barley, 16 hours at 37C with a shorter rest at 50C for 8 hrs, both in a sealed ziploc bag and low kilning temperatures  gives me the same pH and colour.

High kilning- raising the temperature to 60C while there is still 25-30% moisture. Usually done with Munich malt for maltier flavour and for colour, this will lower the diastatic power of the malt. I don’t seem to be having any problems achieving colour with kilning temperatures below 50C, the amount of colour is dependant of the length of time it spends stewing at 50C. This could be an indicator of a high level of protein in my barley. So I settled on using low kilning temperatures to maintain the enzymatic power as much as possible.  As well I’ve also tried different curing temperatures and I’ve found to minimize the roasty character the curing temperature must be kept below 200F. The biggest changes in colour and pH occur during the curing phase, a half hour can make a huge difference.

What I’ve achieved so far is a sweet malt, not roasty and with the same pH and colour as Honey malt. It’s very unique and I’ll be using it whenever a recipe calls for melanoidin malt but it has more of a tart flavour and is missing the deep honey-like and almost vinous flavour characteristic in Honey malt. I am not going to give up trying to figure out this malt but there are a lot of variables at every stage. Along with my procedure, the variety of barley and it’s protein content could be affecting my results as well as the scale at which it’s produced. As well since bacteria seem to be involved it’s flavour characteristics could be due to the local environment in which it is malted or where the barley was grown which is literally 1000 km away. Unfortunately I have to put this malt on hold since I’ve used almost all of the barley I grew last year. This is the schedule that comes closest so far:

This will give you a sweet yet sour malt (low pH) that’s around 30L and maintains it’s diastatic power.

Steep until 48%

Germinate at least 6 days at 13C, acrospires at 3/4  then 24 at room temp. 22C (acrospires on average are now the full length of grain)

Couch (lactic acidification phase) in a zip-loc bag sealed for 16 hours at 37C

ramp up temp to 50C (proteolysis phase) and hold for 8-10 hours for about a 30L colour, Add more time for more colour 16-18 hrs = around 60L

Kiln at 40-45C for 24 hours or until moisture is below 10%

Cure:

1 hour at 175F  79C

1 hour at 185F  85C

3 hours at 190C  88C

 

 

 

 

 
 

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Home Growers and Maltsters

Thanks to this blog  I’ve talked to a lot of people who malt their own barley. If you check out the comment sections on these blog posts you’ll find a ton of shared information on malting from other home maltsters. So I thought I’d add a new section featuring people who grow and/or malt their own barley. This is something I should have started long ago, so if you don’t want to start your own blog (which you really should) send me your pics and I’ll add them here. I’ve recently had the pleasure of meeting two home maltsters from opposite sides of the planet John from Oregon and Dimitris from Greece.

John has a beautiful piece of land in the Siskiyou Mts. in Oregon and I’m totally envious of his garden. He grows and makes 100 gallons of beer every year which he shares with his rather large extended family.

“I am 69 years old and retired. Gardening is my hobby. My family [I have over 100 nephews and nieces on my side alone] … my family visits me in the summer to carry home produce. I also graft or bud fruit trees for fun. I got my MS in horticulture long ago and have worked in agriculture the whole time until I retired in 2004.

When fall arrives I begin malting my spring and winter barley. This takes about two months because with limited facilities only about 6 lbs are done daily. None-the-less it gets done. I’ll tell you that I’ve a long way to go before I perfect this malting business.

My family up in Washington are big in hops. I really don’t need to grow my own because they are willing and do supply me with hops … a lot of hops [Yakima Chief Hops]. I use them for trade. I use their hops such as Simcoe and Mosaic because they are proprietary. Otherwise I grow my own.

Beers. Mine are almost entirely red or malty ales. I don’t use recipes as such, just use the grain I’ve malted and roasted to make well malted ales. Hence I don’t do IPAs even though I have hops aplenty. In brewing I generally I use 25 lbs of my
malt plus four or more lbs of heavily roasted barley [or barley malt] via decoction to make 10 gallon final volume beer. I do the decoction at home and collect the decanted liquid and then rinse it to gather as much as I can. This goes into the boil and not into the mash tun. It’s not all that difficult. I use various yeasts but Coopers is a great
work horse. My brewing buddies are more atune to recipes.”

Along with barley and hops John grows all sorts of fruit and vegetables. Check out the sickle bar mower adapted to catch grain. Sweet. This was made by a friend of his who is currently working on a threshing machine which I can’t wait to see. John sent me a lot of great photos of his farm. Here are just a few:

Bing & Van cherries I grafted this year

 

This rocks.

This rocks.

vegies 09

Produce I'm giving away to family.

Produce I’m giving away to family.

 

Alba winter barley

Alba winter barley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brewing buddy and brew day

Brewing buddy and brew day

 

 

 

 

 

vegies 01

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dimitris who lives in Greece has just planted some barley on part of his families olive grove. These olive trees are about a hundred years old. He also has this awesome indirectly heated wood oven to play with for kilning. Dimitris is planning on utilizing an arduino micro controller to control the air flow in his kiln based on the humidity inside. How cool is that. Looking forward to seeing his updates.

“This is part of my field, that my father owns. In total it is 1 acre (1000m2) and has around 40 olive trees.
Also we have about 20 chickens that lay eggs, which we sell.
Every year, around October, i plow a part of it, about 0.25 acre, in order to seed oats for chicken feed.
We don’t let them grow and produce grains, but we let the chickens eat the oat plants while it is green. Then we keep them from entering the area in order to let the plants grow again etc.
You could say that chickens are also a lawn mower 🙂

As far as barley, i’ll seed a smaller area. I’d say it’s almost as big as your new plot. (800 sq. ft.) It extends from the point I shot this picture, up to a few feet next to the olive tree in the foreground.”

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Planting

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Wood fired oven for kilning

Wood fired oven for kilning

Greek cat supervising

The supervisor

“So my plan is to keep the door open, and make a new door, from wood and insulation that will fit snug at the opening.
The new door will have two pipes (2-3 inch diameter), one on top and one on the bottom. Each of the pipes will have either a small fan inside, or some flaps that shut off the openings.
For the barley, i’ll create a wooden crate with a perforated bottom made out of mesh and fabric. On the top there will be a lid, with a fan.
It will go inside, the fan will be constantly running making air flow recirculate from the bottom of the barley towards the top.
I will be measuring the temperature and relative humidity of the air flow that enters the barley, and perhaps exiting as well (in order to watch the state of drying)
When the humidity rises, arduino will open the pipe fans/or flaps, so that drier air will enter the oven and humid air will exit.
That way i think i will have a very good control as far as drying is concerned. And of course i can raise the temperature up to higher values for making special malt.
Perhaps, i could replace wooden fire with a gas burner that could fit inside the fire chamber, for better temperature control, although it would cost more.
We’ll see.” Here’s Dimitris blog: From Plants to Beer
Thanks for the photos guys!
 
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Posted by on October 29, 2015 in Home growers and maltsters

 

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