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Turricaine

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I was wondering if anybody mills their own grains. They definately sell equipment for it so some people must do it. I was just wondering if there are any advantages to it. The commercial malted-cracked grains are very floury and I dont know if this gives batches that are cloudy even after sufficient time has been allowed for clearing. Maybe if you will by hand you get a courser grind allowing the beer to clear mor easily. Anybody?
 

strat40

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Most supply shops do a good job milling your grain. Having said that, if you mill the grain yourself, you'll get much control over the size of the grist. Floury-looking grain is normal to a point. Look at how whole the husks are. You want them to be as whole as possible. If you decide to obtain a mill get a good roller mill thats adjustable. If you can, also motorize it as well. A drill works fine for this.
 

SwAMi75

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I think the main advantage would be economy. You'd be able to buy in bulk, and mill when you're ready to use it.

As for pre-cracked stuff being "floury"....I have no idea. I've had mine crushed by online shops and by my LHBS....haven't had any problems with them.
 

tnlandsailor

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A mill would only be needed for the all-grain brewer. I like the benefit of having the freshest possible grain to brew with. I buy in bulk and crush about 5 minutes prior to mashing. Pre-crushed grain will not stay fresh for nearly as long as uncrushed grain, plus, its just more economical and convenient to buy grain in full sacks.

I think having control over the quality of the grind, the freshness factor, and being able to buy in bulk is the natural evolution of the all-grain brewer. If you all-grain brew for long enough, having your own mill eventually just makes sense. It's not imperitive, nor required, but eventually, you'll just feel that it's the next step to improve your brewing.

Prosit!
 
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Turricaine

Turricaine

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Hmm I dont know if it is too obsessive to do it purely on the notion of getting a fresher product. The consumer buys bags of flour from the supermarket and does not think twice so why should it be any different in beer making?
 

Toilet Rocker

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What is a reasonable amount of time between having your grains ground by your HBS to actually using them? I mean when do you guys think the properties of the grains start to break down?
 

Born Brewing Co.

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I've heard a year if sealed and put in closed tupperware. However, I figure I usually use a my grains in a brew within a few months.
 

Janx

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I don't think it's that big a deal at all storing ground grain for weeks or months. I normally grind my own grain, but have many times used pre-ground. I think the biggest enemy of grain, whether pre-ground or not, is humidity. If it is kept cool and dry, I really wouldn't worry. If your grain is ground 5 minutes, 5 hours or 5 days before you mash, I'd bet a lot that you'd get no difference in yield of efficiency or flavor or anything.

I think the only real advantage is economy, and that unmilled grain is slightly less susceptible to humidity and the resulting breakdown. Assuming you have appropriate storage, pre-ground or whole grain is really good for quite a long time. I keep a homebrew store's worth of grain on hand at most times so I have flexibility in recipe formulation. It stays good for months and months and months in sealed tupperware-type containers.

Remember not to get lost in the details. tnlandsailor may only use grain ground within 5 minutes of mashing, but he doesn't use a secondary fermenter, so...you be the judge ;)

(just joshing you, Dennis...I don't even use a hydrometer after all ;))

Bottom line for me is that owning a grain mill is just kinda cool and makes the whole process more manly, because now you have to use a power drill and a mill and all the noise and dust... WOOHOO!!

However, I have bought 50 pound sacks of pre-ground grain (ground at a brewery, not a brew store), and the grind was better than anything I could do with my fairly nice homebrew mill. The big boys have much nicer mills than you'd ever want to buy, so some of the pre-packaged pre-milled grain is a much better grind than any homebrewer could reasonably achieve. So, to me, the "quality of grind" argument doesn't hold too much water.

Just think noise and dust and power drills and 50 pound sacks of grain...you'll buy a mill in no time ;)

Cheers :D
 

tnlandsailor

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Perhaps I over stated the freshness factor, however, malted grain is a far cry from the ground-to-dust-enriched-devoid-of-anything-remotely-nutritive-with-a-half-life-approaching-that-of-nuclear-waste white flour. It only stands to reason that whole grain will last longer than pre-ground grain - just like pre-ground spices versus whole spices ground just prior to use. But if you can turn your inventory over pretty quickly and store your grains properly, yes, I would doubt any of us could tell the difference between 1 month old pre-crushed grain and crushed-on-the-spot grain. But sometimes my inventory hangs around a while.

I will say that getting your grain ground from several different sources could be hard to predict from an efficiency standpoint. If you have your own mill, you can be assured the same crush and relative efficiency every time. Plus you get to play with electric motors, sniff malt dust, and own more toys....what could be better?

Prosit!
 
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Turricaine

Turricaine

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I actually thought about grinding the malted barley grains by hand. You know like one of those old fashioned pencil sharpners - only larger. I am not really gonna want to buy one of these anytime soon, I was merely curious and wanted to know what the deal is. Like alot of stuff just because I want it does not give me the license to have it. Nah, but really I dont see the advantage of a grain mill. I'm glad that homebrew has evolved to the point that such items as this could someday become household and not dominated by the greedy hands of the industry. This is all from the top of my head BTW so dont thick these are my final concrete views on the matter.
 

Toilet Rocker

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Thanks for the info of freshness. I've gone weeks before I used the ground grains, but having stored them in a dark spot, sealed, I really had nothing to worry about. I was concerned with my last batch, so I ground with a beer bottle (which is quite a lame task). Next time I know better than to worry.
 
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Turricaine

Turricaine

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The Philmill is the cheapest product for this and according to my math it would take 10 years of back-to-back brewing for this 'investment' to pay itself. That is not worthwhile IMHO. I have checked ebay but nobody is selling theirs in a hurry.
 

vtfan99

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10 years? I don't think it would take quite that long. Did you factor in money saved from buying grain in bulk? I know it would take some time....but 10 years seems way too long to break even.
 

Dr Malt

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A designed malt mill has the advantage of allowing the home brewer to;
*Freshly mill there grain on brew day, resulting in fresh malt.
*Adjust the grind to his liking for extract, lautering, etc.
*Buy his malt as whole grains and having the ability to mill when needed.

As stated previously here, ground malt is stable for extended periods when stored in a cool dry place in sealed containers. However, ground malt will pick up moisture more easily than whole malt which can result in spoilage if the moisture gets above about 12%. Malt normally has a moisture of 4 - 5%. Ground malt also has the germ portion of the malt crushed in most cases, releasing the small amount of oil in the germ. This oil can easily oxidize when exposed to air resulting in off or oxidized flavors. Therefore, it is recommended that if you have your malt ground at the brew shop, you use it as soon as possible. I would say with a week or so is best. Whole malt also needs to be stored in a cool dry place. It can be stored for a year or so without any loss in quality, assuming you do not get it damp or infested.

Thanks.

Dr Malt
 

Born Brewing Co.

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Ebay...$29
Adjustable plate type grinder, with big hand crank.
Can attach drill to speed up process. I bought this type of mill a few months ago and have cracked the grains for 3 AG sessions now, worked great, results...tastes great!
 

Rhoobarb

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If you go all-grain, a mill is a necessity. It cost more than, say a Corona mill, but I just love my BarleyCrusher. It came from the factory perfectly adjusted for 2-row grain and I can hook it up to my drill with no modifications. I can grind 10 lbs. in less than two minutes.

A lot of mills you'll find are made for milling flour or corn and the grind to just to fine for grain. Just my 2 cents.
 
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For me it's just a heck of a lot easier to take a list of ingredients down to the local HBS the day before and get all the grains needed and have him grind it up no charge. Their price may be 5-10% higher than what I could get for bulk but the convenience of getting everything I need when the beer spirit calls is worth it. Now if I didn't have a LHBS that I can swing by on the way home from work I'd probably already have a mill as well.

I think I could come up with a 5+ year break even point as well on spending $100 or so on a mill if my spend is only $2-3 bucks more locally per batch.
 
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