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brewing with whole malt

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ol noodler

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so the deal is this-
i've run through a number of brews using malt extract, but budget has thrown me off of them, so recently i've been getting the huge bags of whole 2-row malt and then some other randoms (still whole) for flavor.
my attempt at this was to grind the grains in an old-school coffee grinder, put them in a big strainer bag and use it like a teabag while on a full rolling boil for about an hour, pour the liquid out, put the strainer bag in the funnel over the carboy where the liquid is, and run the rest of the water for the five gallons over the bag.
the fermentation on the two different tries on this haven't gone well with very little surface or airlock bubbling activity-- making me wonder if i was missing a step or not fully understanding the un-extract malt completely.
if anyone got a piece of advice it'd be a huge help -- :mug:
 

LostDakota

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Where to begin?

I'll go with the one I know first hand about. DO NOT BOIL GRAINS. The astringency alone is enough to make you want to dump the batch. To my understanding, You really can't steep base grains. But if you look up "brew in a bag" there is a guy who says it can be done.

I'll let the others fill you in on why the coffee grinder is a bad choice.

EDIT: check here
and here
 

malkore

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in addition to the reading, there are actually a TON of videos on youtube of people homebrewing.

the process you need to observe is 'mashing grain' and 'sparging'.

here's just one example of someone doing things the right way
[ame]http://youtube.com/watch?v=7jfrBUDpsmg[/ame]
and part 2
[ame]http://youtube.com/watch?v=iGVvqmP0oTM&feature=user[/ame]

also, the coffee grinder isn't gonna work. with that much grain, you need a true mill. you can scrape by with a Corona mill, but you should really invest in a 2 or 3 roller mill.
www.barleycrusher.com is the one I have.

if you were only cracking the specialty grains, a good heavy rolling pin would suffice. but you'll spend hours crushing 10-15lbs of grain like that, and get horribly efficiency.
 

Funkenjaeger

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Since nobody's mentioned it yet, I'll point out that the term is "all-grain" brewing, if you use that as a search term you should find quite a bit of info.

The mashing process the others have mentioned is a process where you hold the grain in water at a specific temperature which allows enzymes in the grain to convert starches into fermentable sugars. It's NOT like making tea, you cannot just soak the grains any old way and get sugar out of them. Just for a point of reference, malt extract is made commercially by mashing grains and then drying out the resulting sugars, which is why you are able to just add it straight to water and brew without needing any additional intermediate mashing step.

Sections 2 and 3 of http://www.howtobrew.com should give you quite a lot of information.
 

Bobby_M

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Another thing... Do you own a hydrometer?

Anyway, I'm pretty sure boiling the grain would not only make a horrible tasting concoction due to the husk tannins but you denatured the enzymes immediately and only extracted pure starch with never made it into sugar. You need to hold the grain at 150 degrees F for an hour (generally).
 
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ol noodler

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whoa righteousness, so then after keepin em at about 150 for an hour, then get em on a rollin boil for another hour?
 

LostDakota

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No, then throw them away or make bread out of them as someone did here before.
Boil the liquid.
 

Yooper

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Well, after an hour at 150, you remove the grains. It's usually easier if you have a set up for it like a mash/ lauter tun, or a great big grain bag. You remove the grains, and then bring the wort (the liquid with the sugars) up to a boil.

Brad types faster than I do!
 
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