Malting then Smoking grains
I recently brewed a Gratzer with 100% Weyermann oak-smoked wheat malt. I will be bottling this weekend, but I am already thinking ahead to the next batch and would love to try it completely from scratch. Unlike proper barley for brewing, it seems that the proper wheat is easily available and so I'm thinking this would be a good candidate for trying to malt and smoke some myself. Then I can compare the two.
Does anyone out there have experience with making your own smoked grains that you have malted yourself? There is lots of advice out there on how to make your own malted barley or wheat and lots of advice on how to smoke grains that are already (commercially) malted, but the authentic smoked grains are smoked as part of the kilning at the end of the malting process. (see http://www.schlenkerla.de/rauchbier/prozess/prozesse.html ) It seems that this is the only way to get fresh and authentic smoked wheat malt.
Has anyone done this? Any advice or tips or online guide?
An idea would be to use a Weber Charcoal Smoker and Apple/Oak/Cherry Wood Chips (of course you can use different types of chips, but some of them may not work well with malt/beer).
When it comes time to kiln your malted grain, simply take the amount you want to smoke and place it in a small strainer or colander (think flour sifter with the handle cut off) suspend that in a small bowl or dish to allow the smoke to get around it. Place it on the upper shelf in the smoker. (Assuming you have your charcoal going and the wood chips in the water dish.)
With a little practice you can regulate the temperature to kilning temperature and just kiln in the smoker for as long you normally would. Ensure that you stir your malt once or twice an hour just as you normally would. (Discard the rootlets that fall off before putting the malt back in the smoker.)
It would take more attention than normal to regulate the temp, but it is doable.
Might have to try a couple batches to determine the amount of custom smoked malt you need and to get the hang of kilning it in the smoker.
Malting is fairly easy if you pay attention to details. Plus it'll make the beer more your own by giving it the flavors you control through the malting variables.
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