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Brewing with raw barley and enzymes

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thrasher141

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I am from the US, but recently moved overseas and am now brewing in a country where there is only one brewery (besides my nano brewery) and a handful of lagers that all taste the same. I made the transition from hobbyist to professional this year, after much trial and error.

I can't really get any real brewing equipment or ingredients in the country I live in, so it's been quite a journey. I found a local source of raw barley (unmalted) which I assume is meant for animal feed but not sure. I experimented with malting it myself with mixed results. I probably would have stayed the course of malting myself if I didn't discover the enzyme cocktail called Ondea Pro, made by Novozymes.

I ordered a sample to a US address, brought it over in a suitcase after a trip back stateside (as I do all my ingredients save for the raw barley) and began the process of learning to brew with barley. It was like kind of like learning to brew all over again. There was lots of troubleshooting and learning from mistakes along the way, but eventually I brewed something that people liked.

There are still some significant challenges. Water quality where I am is terrible - tastes like a swimming pool (I've discovered campden tablets). Step mashing is tricky given my equipment. I have no equipment to chill the wort so I learned how to do no chill brewing. I have not been able to locate stainless steel so I am fermenting in a big plastic barrel. I have to plan and pack very carefully every time I travel back to the states, so that I can load up with as much specialty malted grains, yeast, and hops to take back in my suitcases. There are power outages, plumbing problems, and there was a fire in my brewery. Things don't work like they do in the USA.

Anyway, the point is: brewing with barley and enzymes is possible. You can make good beer. People are drinking my beer and they don't know anything is different about it (meaning that it's brewed with raw barley).

Two questions for all of you:

1) Is anybody else doing this? So far I have found no one else.

2) Would you as a craft beer enthusiast (or whatever you call yourself) drink barley/enzyme beer if it were available near you? Barley brewing cuts out the need for malt, meaning a brewery could potentially source barley much more easily and locally, seeing a savings in cost and environmental impact.

Would love your feedback and thoughts.
 

RM-MN

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1) Sort of. I sometimes use a high percentage of the grains I raise but I get the enzymes from malted barley since it is readily available here. I don't do it often because I only like a certain amount of wheat or rye beer and I don't raise barley on my farm.

2) I suspect your beer is at least as good as some of the commercially produced beers I have purchased and probably better than some of them. How you get the enzymes to convert the starches is immaterial to me, just how you manage them to get the proper attenuation for the beer.

3) Have you figured out how to make caramel malts or malts like Vienna to change the flavors?
 
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thrasher141

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Thanks for your reply. To answer your question, point 3, I do still use crystal and other specialty malts, which I purchase in the US and bring in a suitcase. All of my "base malt" or pale malt in a standard recipe is replaced with raw barley.
 

FarmerTed

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It's actually cheaper to travel to the US and carry back specialty malts in a suitcase than it is to mail-order them? That seems odd. Otherwise, I can understand using raw barley and enzymes, but wonder what barley that hadn't been kilned would taste like. Do you do a cereal mash?
 
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thrasher141

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No cereal mash. The Ondea Pro enzymes have a prescribed mash schedule, basically a 3 step mash w/ protein rest, saccharification, and mashout. I first experimented with 100% raw barley and wasn't pleased with the results, and the beer was incredibly light - very pale colored like American light lagers. Using some crystal/roasted/specialty malts fixes that.

And yes, for various reasons, it is easier for me to hand carry things in a suitcase. :)
 

Ninoid

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Can you describe in more detail how to make beer from unmalted barley?
 
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I suggest taking a pop corn popper and torrifying the raw barley. I pop about 2 oz at a time and the pop just shows a white line along the crack. It will give you a biscuit flavour. What country are you in? I would smoke some barley in a bbq and give the locals a new experience. Stay the course!
 

Simonh82

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I've found a number of references to brewing with unmalted barely in the scientific literature. There are a number of reasons that commercial breweries might want to do it. Cost, water and energy saving being the principal ones.

This one compares various proportions of raw barley, rice and malted barley and suggests using a minimum 10-15% malt improves fermentability and laundering.

This article suggests using pearl barley might give better results, removing some of the undesirable by products that come with using raw barley.

This article suggests you can make beer of similar quality using unmalted barley but that there are chemical differences present in the finished product.

The first two articles should be open access. The third one isn't but you might be able to find it on Scihub or using unpaywall.

They are all going to be pretty technical but they show there is active interest in brewing with unmalted barley, at least in some sections of the industry
 
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