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Old 11-21-2006, 03:12 AM   #1
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Default malting your own grain?

I'm seriously considering the leap into all grain (purchased a turkey fryer on my lunch break today). I'm gonna start with some pretty standard recipes I think, but was wondering if anybody on here malts their own grain? I've got an uncle that's a farmer and would be willing to give me some wheat to make a "Family Name" wheat beer. I've done a little (looked at a couple websites) research on malting your own grain to brew, but don't know how common it is or where to find out more about it. Even if it's a totally crazy idea, I might like to try it at least once to say "Hey, have you tried 'my family's' wheat beer?" I know that I'd get a kick out of it, as would my father and uncle and at least a few cousins. Any thoughts?

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Old 11-21-2006, 04:21 AM   #2
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Malting your own grain is definately an extension of our hobby into which only a very few venture. I guess the problem is the amount of specialized equipment that is necessary even to start out.

You need a way to contantly have fresh water flowing through the grain. If not, the grain will start to rot.

Then you need to be able to blow air through the grain or gently and continiously turn it over to make sure it is aerated well enough while it still needs to retain its moisture.

Then you need to be able to dry and kiln the malt. I can imagine that a clothes drier can be used for that, but you need to make sure that the grains don't fall out.

But in the end it's very likely that the malt is of less quality than the malt you can buy in the store. That's why only big breweries bother to have their own malting facilities.

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Old 11-21-2006, 04:28 AM   #3
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Don't despair, unmalted wheat is an adjunct in all kinds of brews! You can still include the family farm in your brewing even if you aren't a maltster. Good luck if you try it...it's quite the undertaking!

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Old 11-21-2006, 11:35 AM   #4
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adjuncts or home malts don't be discouraged to use your own grain!

I've seen plenty that malt their own grain, just remember it will take time and patience to get the process going and to your liking.

My suggestion would be to start this as a side project. It's definitely not impossible, but you won't be with premier malt in a short period of time. If you want beer, start doing some all grain with pro malts. Get a grip on the different levels of toasting, make PLENTY of notes as always, and have fun!

let us know how some of your endeavors turn out should you decide to be your own maltster!

cheers!

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Old 11-21-2006, 11:49 AM   #5
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It doesn't really take any special equipment to malt your own grain, most people who brew gluten free beer do it since you can't buy commercial malted gluten free grains.

This page described the process, not for wheat, but the process is the same.

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Old 12-01-2006, 05:11 PM   #6
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I wonder how they malted grain at the dawn of beer making? It seems to me it couldent be that complicated. Especially with nobody knowing what the heck to do.
Like how would they know to germinat the seed then halt the germination then mash it then ferment it?

Seems to me in order to discover beer making you'd have to run across many series of mistakes.

It rained all your grain got wet. it was starting to germinate so you wanted to do something with it before it was no good to eat. You roast it and that tasted interesting but no good for a meal so you tossed it all in a big pot of boiling water to see if you could make a good soup. But then your grandmother's dog died and you forgot about it for a few weeks and yeast from the air turned the soup into beer. And then you tasted it and said, "Whoa this has the happy juice like in mead!"(since mead came first)

It can't be that complicated I don't think. Just get the grain, get it wet, let it sit, mash it, boil the wort, steep the hops, pitch the yeast and wait.

I mean if they could figure out how to do it by mistake back then when enzymes yeast and protiens were unheard of then it can't be -that- hard to make a good beer the old fasioned way, can it?

I mean if each family of vikings had thier own brew then it can't be that hard to malt your own stuff.

I would say just get it wet untill it germinates then mash it.

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Old 12-01-2006, 05:32 PM   #7
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Papazian has a few good paragraphs on it in THBC.

He says you can dry grains in a sack inside your laundry dryer, or in an oven at a low setting, or out in the sun on a hot day, perhaps on a tin roof or some such.

He has pictures of what the grains look like as they germinate and helps you understand when to start drying them out. I'm sure there's a real art to it, but to get something "usable" doesn't seem terribly difficult.

And if you're extraction methods are weak, well, you have plenty more grain you can use to make up for it...

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Old 12-01-2006, 06:00 PM   #8
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This is something that interests me as well. Personally, I think the hardest part would be root and acrospire removal after malting (these parts are said to cause bitterness and off flavor in the malt). I did a few quick searches but haven't found an example of a machine that removes these. I am imagining it would be something like a tumbler. There is one method of germination which is basically a slanted floor where the seed starts out at one end and as they move it to the other end it is partially germinated. You are way way ahead of the game because he already has the harvest equipment, which for me at home if I were to grow a small space of barley or wheat I would have to harvest by hand which takes forever. You basically need to warm the damp seed to start germination (so at the end of the summer harvest you'd want to do it immediately). One thing to think of is to look into a table top coffee roaster maybe for malting (although I am not sure what temps you need for pale malts and how low the coffee roasters go). If you do it on a small scale and become familiar with the process, then you can always expand in the future. The interesting thing about this, is you begin to truly brew 'seasonal' beer as dictated by the harvest vs. being able to pick up grain at any time from a LHBS.

[edit] the other thing to consider is (for future reference if you get going with this on a large(r) scale) is if by some chance you had a malter close by (reasonable driving distance) perhaps they would consider malting it for a fee, although at that point I am not certain it would work out costwise. [/edit]

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Old 12-09-2006, 07:22 AM   #9
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I think you could remove the roots by working the grain over a mesh screen with your hand.

And for drying it, you can buy a small hot air blower and some of them have setting that go as low as 30 or 40 celcius, but I'm not sure if there is a limit to how long you can keep it on though.

Just construct a shallow box with a metal screen at the bottom, put the grain in it, and put that box on top of another box that has an open top, cut a whole in the side and mount the blower to blow the air into it. It should work pretty well.

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Old 12-11-2006, 05:35 PM   #10
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Somebody told me about moonshiners who malted sacks of corn by just hosing down the sacks and leaving in the sun. Roll the sack over, and hose down daily.

I did try malting a pound of Pearl Barley from the grocery store. I kept it in a shallow baking pan. Sure smelled sweet. Very poor 'efficiency' of the polished grains- think retail rice. Many didn't sprout. Then it got moldy. But it was a personal proof of concept. Maybe I'll buy a sack of horse-food barley some day and try for real... It would be a savings over my 35 cents/bottle AG now.

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