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Old 05-29-2014, 03:11 PM   #1
Owly055
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Default Making Crystal (toaster oven with rotisserie)

I'm buying my two row in 50 pound sacks now, and the nearest LHBS is 100 miles away, so I'm tossing around the idea of making my own crystal.

There are a number of toaster ovens out there with rotisseries built in which seem ideal to me for the job, at a cost of only about $50. The idea is to make two small drums (one sealed, one screen) to rotate in the toaster oven, and use a PID controller to regulate temp.
I'm thinking that after soaking two row, it would be put in a sealed container and tumbled with the rotisserie at a suitable temp for several hours. Presumably that temp would be in the mid 160's. The sealed drum would be used for "stewing", and the screen drum for roasting. It obviously wouldn't produce more than a few pounds at a time, but the effort level would be quite low.

Anybody out there doing this?

H.W.

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Old 05-29-2014, 03:15 PM   #2
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You have some competition.

But seriously... sounds very interesting! I'm in for a progress thread when you start.
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Old 05-31-2014, 07:22 AM   #3
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If it comes out blue I suggest selling it to finance your brewing hobby.

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Old 06-02-2014, 01:38 AM   #4
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I would just be very careful about who you told around town that you are making "crystal" at home.

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Old 06-02-2014, 01:47 AM   #5
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I get a lot of my supplies from 1000's of miles from home..

It might be fu,n but I would prefer to get something that I know is somewhat accurate in Lovibond. Toasting in a toaster oven will be a crap-shoot as to what you actually get.

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Old 06-02-2014, 09:17 PM   #6
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The toaster oven provides a framework to build on. With the rotisserie, it should work very well for both stewing evenly and drying / toasting, provided one has a PID controller for accuate temp control, and the proper containers for the stewing and roasting / drying. Consistent results will depend on consistent process...... temp and time. I frankly don't see any reason why a particular crystal needs to match a precise Lovibond number, once you have the process perfected for repeatability. If I have crystal 55 instead of crystal 60.... does it really matter so long as I get consistent results from it? We are home brewers here, not microbrewers. The object is good beer. Good beer doesn't require that it be a precise product exactly like what John Doe is making. If I were bottling and selling beer, it would be a different story.


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Old 06-03-2014, 07:05 PM   #7
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Sounds like you'll be "the only guy out there doing this".

Do it up, and keep us posted!

As you said, the object is "good beer", and if it's good to you, that's the main thing.

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Old 06-03-2014, 11:42 PM   #8
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Roasting isn't too bad. I did it once when I needed a few ounces and the LHBS was out. Read up on the flavor profile and sniff often. You can smell the grain change 'flavors'.

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Old 06-04-2014, 04:02 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hermit View Post
Roasting isn't too bad. I did it once when I needed a few ounces and the LHBS was out. Read up on the flavor profile and sniff often. You can smell the grain change 'flavors'.
The Nose Knows..... ;-) I appreciate your point. The nose is an extremely sensitive tool for chemical analysis. It will detect substances at just a few parts per million. I'm not a couch potato, an I have NEVER had a TV, so my evenings are spent on projects, reading, etc. If and when I build this, if someone calls me in the evening wondering what I'm doing, I can say "sniffing crystal"......... or would "snorting" be a better wording ;-)

At 100 miles from the LHBS, it makes sense to be able to make crystal...... I don't follow established recipes, in fact I have yet to make the same thing twice, though my "KiwiPils" has been a real success......... all 16 bottles of it. I don't have any pilsner malt at the moment, so I'm casting about for a way to achieve a similar result using 2 row. American Pilsner is extremely neutral, so American 2 row with a bit of rice or something should get pretty close. I've already made a couple of brews where I pan roasted some 2 row to darken it, assuming that it would convert with the rest...... and it did.

I've read several articles on making crystal..... Two different stewing systems.

One involves soaking for a number of hours, and heaping the moist grain in a pan in the oven for several hours at about 145-165 (normal mash temps), then drying at about 250, and roasting at about 350 for varying lengths of time, stirring occasionally. 10 minutes or so for CR20, 30 minutes or so for CR60

The other involves putting it in a pot with water and doing a mash with un-crushed grain at about 154, then drying and roasting. This guy does it pretty much exactly as you would your mash, mashing for an hour and doing a mash out at 170.

With a suitable container.... a metal cannister set up to run on the rotisserie, the moist grains packed fairly full .... perhaps 3/4....inside it, the slow rotation would result in fairly even heating....... Likewise the mesh cannister, which would be fairly easy to make, could be used to dry and to roast without issues of scorching.


H.W.
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