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Old 06-07-2005, 02:28 AM   #1
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Default Starch Conversion

I have read the threads, searched the net, but I just need a simple explanation, of converting starch to fermentable sugar.

Can you just take regular barley out of the field crack it heat it up in water
at 150 or 170 for an hour and have a fermentable liquid, or do you have to soak the grain until its about to sprout and then dry it, and then crack it. Everything I have read says you have to introduce an enzyme to convert the starch to fermentable sugar???? What enzyme are they talking about????

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Old 06-07-2005, 01:12 PM   #2
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In order to make a fermentable liquid with barley, you have to malt the grain first. Malting involves partially sprouting or germinating the barley kernels, then drying them in a kiln. What this does is activate enzymes that are already in the grain that start to break down the long starch chains within the grain kernel to shorter starch chains. When the sprouted grain is kilned, this process is stopped. The resulting product is malted barley or just "malt". This is the basic malting process. The amount of kilning that a malt gets depends on the type of malt you are trying to produce and the specific barley strain that was originally malted. Pilsner malt is very lightly kilned, Munich malt is kilned a bit more. The more it is kilned, the darker the grain. The malting and kilning processes in conjunction with other processes like "stewing" and "roasting" can be tailored in many different ways to get many different types of malt. But this is the basic malting process.

Once the grain is malted, the enzymes within the grain are still present, but not active. When the malt is crushed and then introduced to water at a specific temperature (mashing), the enzymes become active again and start converting the shorter starch chains in the grain to simple sugars which are then later fermented by the yeast. There are two basic enzymes in malt, Alpha Amylase and Beta Amylase. These exist in the barley kernel when it is grown. Their job is to covert starch to simple sugars for the plant to use during sprouting and growth. Each one has it's own characteristics and breaks down the starches a little differently. In addition, each one has it's own particular behavior within a different temperature range. Depending on the type of beer you brew, the selection of a mashing temperature or multiple mashing temperatures will yeild a different sugar profile for the yeast to consume. In general, lower mashing temperatures (150 F +/-) yeild a more fermentable sugar profile, resulting in dryer beers, and higher mashing temperatures (155 F +/-) yeild a less fermentable sugar profile resulting in a maltier/sweeter beer. These are only broad generalities.

A quick Google search on "malting" or "what is malting" will yeild many sites and essays that give more info that I can give in a 2 paragraph response.

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Old 06-15-2005, 01:00 AM   #3
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This coming from an extract brewer with aspirations.....

so when you all grain brewers get your grain at the HBS is it already malted???

Does anybody go all the way from barley in the plant form to making beer on a homebrew level?

Gilbey

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Old 06-15-2005, 01:17 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gilbey
This coming from an extract brewer with aspirations.....

so when you all grain brewers get your grain at the HBS is it already malted???

Does anybody go all the way from barley in the plant form to making beer on a homebrew level?

Gilbey
Yes its already malted, I have not tried to malt my own, If I had free barley I might try it but for now its easier just to buy it
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Old 06-15-2005, 01:07 PM   #5
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Malting is not really something for homebrewers. There is a lot of chemistry involved in the process, then after the fact, there is quite a bit of analysis to tell you what you've got: color, protein content, potential yeild, etc. I'm sure someone out there has tried it - but I think I'll buy mine.

There was a discussion on HBD a couple years ago about "beer from dirt". Grow your own barley and hops, malt your own grain, and culture your own yeast. I don't think anyone pulled it off, but it was fun to discuss all that would be involved to be a completely self sustaining brewer.

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Old 06-15-2005, 01:41 PM   #6
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Very cool concept....beer from dirt!!! I already have hops growing in my back yard. I have the space to grow grain, though I suspect I will have to plant an acre of barley to yield enough for a batch . But one year, when I have lots of free time on my hands I am going to try it. How cool would it be to say; "Hey, wanna' try some of this beer I grew?"

Gilbey

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