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Old 07-16-2012, 11:45 PM   #1
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Default Is malt conditioning worth it?

I should start by saying that I haven't had any issues with stuck sparges or anything like that. This is more due to the fact that I like to tinker.

I'm grinding my grain for brewing tomorrow and my first question is whether conditioning is worth the hassle. I've heard stories of gumming up the mill with flour balls, etc. Have any of you done it and does it make that much of a difference in easy of lautering/sparging, efficiency, etc?

My second question is about the timing of things. If I condition this evening and grind, am I going to have funky, smelly, rotten grain by tomorrow evening?


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Old 07-16-2012, 11:55 PM   #2
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Don't crush it tonight for sure. I don't soak my grain before I mill it, but I'm pretty sure you won't be happy when you lift up the lid of your mash tun tomorrow. You don't want to waste much time when it's wet. If you go that route, soak it and mill it just before you brew.


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Old 07-17-2012, 12:12 AM   #3
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I condition every time now; it allows me to grind much finer and preserve the husks. I get much better efficiency than before. I add the water the night before and usually grind the next morning while mash water heats up. I have never noticed any smell. The amount of water being added and the time left on are both too small for bacteria to do much. Besides, most bacteria and molds won't be able to do anything with unconverted starches.
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Old 07-17-2012, 12:27 AM   #4
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If you have no issues with your current lautering process, really the worst thing you can do is throw a wrench in the works.

As far as conditioning goes, the amount of water you should be using is really minimal. If you start seeing dough balls on your mill, rust, or if your grain smells funky in the morning after the process you are adding too much water. I believe its 2% by weight, so for a 10 pound grain bill your looking at 3.2 oz of water by weight, which is pretty much nothing.

Again, if you have your process down just run with it. If you have lautering issues or you want yo tighten down your crush for better efficiency and you start running into lautering issues then conditioning the malt can help.
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Old 07-17-2012, 12:40 AM   #5
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I always condition my grain and get a real nice crush with my mill set about 0.033. I put the grain in a bucket, then spritz it with water from a spray bottle, stir with a big spoon, and keep doing this until the grain just begins to stick to my hand when I grab a handful and release it. I let it sit for maybe 1/2 hour then mill. I do end up with a little flour embedded into the knurls of the rollers, but that is easily taken off with a wet rag, followed by a dry rag or paper towel. I wouldn't recommend milling the night before, though.
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Old 07-17-2012, 12:51 AM   #6
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Thanks for the input. I can't leave well enough alone so I ended up spraying with a total of about 3 oz. while mixing between sprays. It's really not much water at all. I gave it about 10 minutes to soak in the water and then I put it through the mill.

I didn't do a side-by side comparison with unconditioned grain so I can't say anything for sure but, at worst, it looks at least as good as when I grind unconditioned grain. I think it's probably slightly better but not nearly like I've seen in some pictures. Maybe I need to give it more time to soak the water in.

It remains to be seen how brewing tomorrow goes.
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Old 07-17-2012, 01:06 AM   #7
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There should be a noticeable difference - maybe not long enough to soak in or not quite enough water? Let us know how conditioning the night before works - if the grain doesn't get funky I may start conditioning the night before to save time on brew day.
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Old 07-17-2012, 01:40 AM   #8
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After conditioning and tightening my crush, I've gone from upper 70's to mid 80's. I condition the night before and make sure I don't add too much liquid. That's all I have changed. So YMMV.
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Old 07-17-2012, 02:18 AM   #9
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Try a pound if grain conditioned and unconditioned, throw them in a ziplock and take a look. After this trst my girlfriend and I noticed a rather large difference.
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Old 07-17-2012, 03:42 PM   #10
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I don't know what kind of mill your using, but I still use a 'Corona' type mill and since I have started conditioning my malt I have noticed a huge difference, i.e. less flour, husks stay together better etc. It has allowed me to tighten it up to the point where I am getting really good efficienciencies.

I usualy use about 4-4.5 oz of distilled water per 10-11 pound grain bill, but I also let the grain sit 30 or 45 minutes before milling it. I'm probably using to much water, but it works for me, so I go with it.


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