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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > General Techniques > Extreme Experiment Log: Brewing Entirely from Scratch
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Old 12-20-2011, 01:33 AM   #1
MattTimBell
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Default Extreme Experiment Log: Brewing Entirely from Scratch

Hi all (or any interested)

For Christmas break, I've decided to try an experiment: brew (almost) entirely from scratch by malting all my own grain. Making this more "extreme" yet is that I haven't been able to find a source of barley, so I'm (perhaps ill-advisedly?) going with all wheat, oat and rye. I'll post my plans here, as well as developments as they occur.

First, mostly to make sure I could use the whole grains from the health food section of my grocery store, I bought about 2 lbs. of hard winter wheat and 2 lbs whole rye, then sprouted it and let it grow until just slightly overmodified. (I tried to dissect the seeds as they grew to see when the acrospire was at full-modification, but never managed to figure out how to tell the difference between the acrospire inside the seed and the rest of the seed. It has occurred to me since then that the seeds look largely huskless, even though they are sprouting, and the acrospire might have been "outside" from the get-go.) I then tried to figure out how to use my mother-in-law's (yes, she's supportive!) oven to turn this into a light crystal malt. The result was something that smelled good, in any event: lightly nutty, and lightly sweet.

Second, having figured out that the above would work, I've bought 4 lbs of hard winter wheat and 4 lbs oat groats, and am repeating the sprouting process. My plan is to use the proofing setting on the oven -- designed to hold temps warm but below 125 deg F -- to dry out the grain and make something pale-malt like.

Third, I plan on taking my four pounds of crystal, made earlier, wetting it slightly, and putting it on my father-in-law's (he's even more supportive) Traegger smoker with some mesquite pellets, re-wetting the grain occasionally until it is dry and fairly smoky.

Finally, I plan on taking the roughly 12 lbs of grain, crushing using a KitchenAid grain mill on a low setting, and mash. Because of the high percentage of wheat and oats (lots of protein and beta glucan), I'll do a multiple-decoction, starting at 100 deg F for a glucanase rest, stepping up to 120 deg F for a protein rest, up again to around 140, then to 157ish, and finally to 170 for mashout. If all went well with making the pale malt, from what I read there should be sufficient diastatic power to convert, and I hope the multiple rests and decoctions should help with efficiency given the non-professional (hence, lower PPG) nature of the malt produced.

If all goes well by the boil, I'm aiming for something with an OG between 1.055 and 1.065 (expecting it to be close to 1.055 because of the lower anticipated efficiency) for a 4.5 gal. boil. I'll take a small portion of the wort out of the main boil and try to caramelize it over the stove, then add it into the main boil. I'll use a very small amount of a potent Chinook hops from my local HBS, aiming for around 20 IBUs. Fermentation will be with S-05 at house room temps, which tend to be between 65 and 69 deg F.

Comments welcome!

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Old 12-20-2011, 02:37 AM   #2
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What is the process for removing the sprouts from the malted grain (without driving yourself crazy with a pair of tweezers)

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Old 12-20-2011, 02:47 AM   #3
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I have heard people put the grain in a pillowcase tied up and throw it in the dryer to knock the sprouts loose.

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Old 12-20-2011, 03:04 AM   #4
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Sounds awesome, good luck!

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Old 12-20-2011, 03:27 AM   #5
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Default removing sprouts

Plumbob, with the first four lbs (the crystal/caramel wheat/rye) I made, I put them in a large sieve and stirred them around for a couple minutes. All the roots and sprouts broke off and fell through the sieve, leaving the grain. Worked like a charm!

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Old 12-20-2011, 03:39 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MattTimBell View Post
Plumbob, with the first four lbs (the crystal/caramel wheat/rye) I made, I put them in a large sieve and stirred them around for a couple minutes. All the roots and sprouts broke off and fell through the sieve, leaving the grain. Worked like a charm!
Hmmm, this will be attempted.
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Old 12-20-2011, 06:52 AM   #7
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very cool keep us posted. i've heard those kitchenaid grinders aren't good for grinding grain. but now if you REALLY wanted to brew entirely from scratch you'd grow your own hops and harvest yeast from the air or fruit

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Old 12-20-2011, 07:32 AM   #8
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This sounds awesome, I look forward to seeing more of this. I'm still doing extract brewing and I'm already discussing plans with a friend to use his farm to grow grain and hops to make beer from the most basic forms (hell I might even try to harvest my own yeast)

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Old 12-20-2011, 04:55 PM   #9
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I tried kilning my own grain. I had good success, except for higher kilned malts. I had a really hard time keeping them from burning, which produced an undesirable acrid flavor. With those crystal malts make sure you give them plenty of time to soak at mashing temperatures to develop the sugars you want.

Keep us posted on how this turns out.

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Old 12-20-2011, 07:59 PM   #10
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Sounds like an awesome undertaking!
But a note on the malting of oats, from The Homebrewers Garden:
"Germinating oats tends to attract butryfying bacteria. The butanol isomers that these bacteria produce are poisonous, as are the microbes themselves. We consider oat malting a risky business and advise you not to try it"
I have no idea about the accuracy of this claim, so take it for what it's worth.

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