Interested in growing my own beer garden

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Chris N

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Hi,
I am interested in growing my own beer garden and was wondering where I can find seeds,yeast, etc for the needed ingredients to grow/culture on my own?
I am interested in brewing weissbier beer, I have the recipe for Paulaner.
Thank you very much! Take care.
Chris
 

Dr_Jeff

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You will need to be able to grow barley, wheat in sufficient quantities for whatever duration that you are planning to have supplies for, that would be a yield per acre for each, dependent on all sorts of environmental conditions and your ability to harvest it. The you would have to malt it. Hops would also need to be grown, yield varies for first year production, usually better on subsequent years. You will need some yeast to start with, this is the easiest part, you can buy some and carefully culture it up to larger amounts.
 

camonick

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where I can find seeds,yeast, etc for the needed ingredients to grow/culture on my own?
The best way to get useful replies when asking questions like this is to give a general location of where you live in your original post and it can also be included in your bio so others can see anytime. Cereal grains typically aren’t grown on a garden scale, but it could probably be done. Harvesting and threshing the grains could be challenging and time consuming. How much space do you have available for your “garden”?
 

camonick

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Doing some fast and dirty calculations based on the yields where I live (dry land farming in northeast Colorado), here are some figures. To grow 1 bushel of raw wheat (60 pounds) you’ll need approximately 850+ square feet of fertile soil and about 120 days. For 1 bushel of raw barley (48 pounds) you’ll need close to 1000 square feet and about 90 days. Yields can vary greatly depending on geography and growing conditions. Maybe @grampamark could elaborate or correct my figures.
 

grampamark

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The numbers provided by @camonick are pretty good, ballpark, estimates. As he noted, your location will make a big difference in what you can expect. If you’re contemplating doing this on a rooftop garden scale- well, you may have to lease space on some adjacent rooftops. :cool:

The cereals which fall under the designation “small grains” can, and are, used for brewing. These would include wheat, barley, oats, rye, and some less common cereals such as spelt and triticale. So called “coarse grains“, such as corn and grain sorghum, are also used in brewing. Any of these crops are going to require between 500 and 1000 square feet to produce around a bushel of grain. The amount of work required to plant, tend, harvest, and process your crop will make this the most expensive way to produce beer on the homebrew scale, even if you only value your time at minimum wage level.

Harvesting the crop will be the most time consuming part of the process. Separating the kernels from the plant is incredibly labor intensive when done the old fashioned way of cutting the stems off at ground level, spreading the stalks on a flat surface, and beating the hell out of the heads with a big stick. After that exercise you will have to figure out how to gather up the tiny seeds separately from the straw and chaff. A single wheat or barley seed will, typically, produce 3 or 4 stems, each of which will produce a head where the seeds form. The head on the main stem will contain 30-40 kernels. The additional stems, called “tillers”, will produce 20-30 kernels each. So, one plant will produce around 100 kernels which will weigh about 3 or 4 grams. To brew a gallon of beer you will need several pounds of grain. There are 28 grams in an ounce and 16 ounces in a pound. At 30 kernels/gram there are over 800 kernels in an ounce and over 13,000 in a pound. Harvesting, threshing, and separating grain manually is the equivalent of picking fly poop out of pepper. But, hey, you can say “I grew this beer by myself”, while wondering how long it will be before your fingerprints grow back.

I’ll leave it up to @bracconiere, our resident home maltster, to describe the malting process.
 

grampamark

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I don’t know if @Chris N is coming back to this thread. I wasn’t trying to discourage him (her/them) from growing his own ingredients, just pointing out that to get from planting a pound of seed to having enough to brew a small batch, while not difficult, will be quite time consuming. There’s a reason why large scale crop production didn’t become commonplace until the advent of mechanization.
 

camonick

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I don’t know if @Chris N is coming back to this thread. I wasn’t trying to discourage him (her/them) from growing his own ingredients, just pointing out that to get from planting a pound of seed to having enough to brew a small batch, while not difficult, will be quite time consuming. There’s a reason why large scale crop production didn’t become commonplace until the advent of mechanization.
I thought about that myself. I was also just trying to make sure that the OP was aware of the fairly large amount of space and time required to produce a relatively small amount of raw grain. When I hear folks talk about a "garden", I don't picture a very large space.
 
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Chris N

Chris N

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Thank you very much, @camonick, @grampamark , @Dr_Jeff ! I apologize for my delay, been busy.
Good point, I’m from the Peoria area, IL.
I’m sorry if the terminology of “beer garden” was wrong, I was trying to Google information and found that’s what some people seem to call it. I understand how that can be confusing and be taken the wrong way.
I completely understand the points and information you are saying and trying to help me, I greatly appreciate it, it really means a lot and I thank you very much!
As for how much land, I have some land in the country so not like a typical veggie garden, I’m not really sure how much land, was actually wanting to try it for a batch of beer and see how it goes/get the hang of it and maybe make more. The numbers help a lot, thank you very much!
I’m stubborn and you likely won’t discourage me lol, I’ll try it and then say for myself this isn’t worth it lol.
As for small seeds, I’m currently getting into growing tobacco for personal use as well, talk about small seeds lol
First I’m going to practice with an all grain weissbier brewing kit which I have already and then when I get the hang of that was going to try to grow my own ingredients small scale first and then maybe grow more.
What kind of tools/machinery can I use for the grain/crop to make the process easier and slightly quicker?
 

camonick

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What kind of tools/machinery can I use for the grain/crop to make the process easier and slightly quicker?
Do you have a tractor or any tillage equipment (disk, harrow, chisel, cultivator, etc.) already? I don’t know much about the availability of small scale machinery. Any of the implements above will speed up the soil preparation (might be useful for your tobacco enterprise also). A planter or “drills” will make quick work of planting the seeds on a medium sized scale or larger. Might ask around for local machinery auctions or Craigslist, etc. Harvesting the grain with a combine is most efficient, but unless you can find an older model which is typically smaller, mechanical harvesting will be a challenge. Some machinery can be found for scrap metal prices and others will cost thousands of dollars.
For garden sized plots, you could use a broadcast seeder or a single row push seeder. Google “seeders”.
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Some places like Home Depot, tractor supply, etc. will have implements designed for ATVs or lawn tractors. As @grampamark noted above, I think the harvest will be the biggest challenge.
 

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You might want to check out Ben Richards' experience of "growing beer" in the UK :
I strongly second this recommendation. Good podcast, and you might be able to avoid some of the pitfalls he ran into.

The second season is good, too, but slightly less directly relevant to the task you've set yourself. Honestly, I wish he'd do third season; they were quite enjoyable even though it'll be at least 3 years before I'm in a position to try anything similar.
 
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Chris N

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Do you have a tractor or any tillage equipment (disk, harrow, chisel, cultivator, etc.) already? I don’t know much about the availability of small scale machinery. Any of the implements above will speed up the soil preparation (might be useful for your tobacco enterprise also). A planter or “drills” will make quick work of planting the seeds on a medium sized scale or larger. Might ask around for local machinery auctions or Craigslist, etc. Harvesting the grain with a combine is most efficient, but unless you can find an older model which is typically smaller, mechanical harvesting will be a challenge. Some machinery can be found for scrap metal prices and others will cost thousands of dollars.
For garden sized plots, you could use a broadcast seeder or a single row push seeder. Google “seeders”.
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Some places like Home Depot, tractor supply, etc. will have implements designed for ATVs or lawn tractors. As @grampamark noted above, I think the harvest will be the biggest challenge.
Sorry for my delay in replying back. Sounds good. I have a tractor, some attachments for it, tiller, and other gardening tools. Will have to look into what I'll need for the harvest and if there are other items might want.
Was wondering if I get an all grain unmilled kit like this one, could I grow the ingredients from these? I have struggled finding the seeds otherwise:

Thank you very much!
 
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Chris N

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I strongly second this recommendation. Good podcast, and you might be able to avoid some of the pitfalls he ran into.

The second season is good, too, but slightly less directly relevant to the task you've set yourself. Honestly, I wish he'd do third season; they were quite enjoyable even though it'll be at least 3 years before I'm in a position to try anything similar.
Thank you! Looking forward to watching it.
 

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Sorry for my delay in replying back. Sounds good. I have a tractor, some attachments for it, tiller, and other gardening tools. Will have to look into what I'll need for the harvest and if there are other items might want.
Was wondering if I get an all grain unmilled kit like this one, could I grow the ingredients from these? I have struggled finding the seeds otherwise:

Thank you very much!
You can't grow plants from malted grain. Malting sprouts the grain, dries it, knocks the sprouts off of the kernels, and then bakes (kilns) the kernels to produce the finished malt. You might be able to grow plants from unmalted grains, if they haven't had any processing that destroys their viability.

Brew on :mug:
 

camonick

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Was wondering if I get an all grain unmilled kit like this one, could I grow the ingredients from these? I have struggled finding the seeds otherwise:
No. The grain in that kit is malted and won’t grow (but it’ll make beer;)). You need to seek out a livestock feed store or grain marketing elevator for raw seeds. Some health food stores sell raw grains also, but they can be very expensive/ pound.

Edit: Doug posted as I was typing.
 
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Chris N

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No. The grain in that kit is malted and won’t grow (but it’ll make beer;)). You need to seek out a livestock feed store or grain marketing elevator for raw seeds. Some health food stores sell raw grains also, but they can be very expensive/ pound.

Edit: Doug posted as I was typing.
Thank you very much doug and camonick! I have e-mailed a couple local places but have only heard from one person. After thinking about it, my responses from them will likely be the same as in we have wheat but it's for farming and not sure how it will work with brewing but you can try it. I like the price of the bag for sale but don't want to buy a wheat that won't taste well. I'll keep trying but I also found this, while expensive, if it would work to grow as it says unmalted and unmilled then I know this would work in brewing the wheat beer. Just a matter of mastering the growing/harvesting process.
 

camonick

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in we have wheat but it's for farming and not sure how it will work with brewing but you can try it.
It’s all the same. The grain you’d get from a feed store or grain elevator just won’t be as clean… especially the grain from the elevator, since it was just delivered from the field/farm. The grain from a feed store may have been run through a cleaner to remove some of the dirt, bugs, odd sized kernels, weed seeds and non-grain debris. The biggest thing you have to know about wheat is whether it’s winter or spring wheat. It makes a huge difference when it’s planted. Winter wheat has to be planted in the fall for the following summer harvest. Spring wheat is planted in the spring for that summer’s harvest. There is also white and red wheat as well as hard and soft wheat. Digging for the description, that Rahr wheat you link above appears to be hard red spring wheat.
 
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Chris N

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Ok, great! Glad to hear they are all the same. That saves a lot of money then, I can get a 50 lb bag of wheat seeds from an elevator for $18. Was also looking at the barley and on the ingredients list it says 2 row spring barley. Though a local seed store can only get in Robust barley which according to google is a 6 row. Would that still work or should I get the 2 row? Thank you very much!

Though it can be used as a malting barley: Robust Spring Barley is a 6-row malting barley with yellow plump kernels and is medium-tall. ... Robust Barley is primarily used as a feed and malting barley but also is a good option for cover cropping and has excellent straw strength and is widely adaptable. Robust barley has good resistance to Stem Rust and Spot Blotch.
 

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I think this is a very interesting idea. Do you know any local farmers with a small seed drill? Guys that do cover crops have them. It may be more work to clean the machine out than it's worth, but . . .

Now harvest will be the worst part. I can't think of any 'easy' way to do that. Other than the old fashioned way.

Keep us posted!
 

bracconiere

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i thought i already posted to this thread? weird....

malting feed store barley works fine for me. if you get it straight from the elevator, even better!

(i haven't had luck with wheat from the feed store though.. i think they spray it with a fungicide or something, because it's huskless...but it does sprout and grow)
 

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I can get a 50 lb bag of wheat seeds from an elevator for $18.
Just make sure you know if it’s winter or spring wheat so you know when to plant it. Seeding rates are something you might start to research too. I live in a fairly arid place so seeding rates will be different for me than you. You can contact your state college agronomy research center for info. Just to give you a starting point, the normal seeding rate here for dry land farming with equipment designed for the purpose is to plant 45-60 pounds of wheat seed per acre.
 

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because it's huskless.
If the farmer’s combine is adjusted correctly, the wheat harvested will be clean and chaff-free… it should be huskless. Farmers are actually docked (penalized) if they bring wheat to the elevators with high levels of chaff, weeds, bugs, etc. All the foreign materials add weight that isn’t “wheat”. The elevators are purchasing and marketing “wheat” and won’t pay the farmers for stuff that isn’t.
 

bracconiere

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If the farmer’s combine is adjusted correctly, the wheat harvested will be clean and chaff-free… it should be huskless. Farmers are actually docked (penalized) if they bring wheat to the elevators with high levels of chaff, weeds, bugs, etc.

do they treat wheat destined for livestock? because it tastes like crap.....i even ran some through my flour mill, and it just plain tastes bad....
 
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i thought i already posted to this thread? weird....

malting feed store barley works fine for me. if you get it straight from the elevator, even better!

(i haven't had luck with wheat from the feed store though.. i think they spray it with a fungicide or something, because it's huskless...but it does sprout and grow)
Just going to reply to this real quick then need to get back to work lol
I can't get barely from the elevator, they don't stock it, not enough demand. However, I can get it from a seed store and it's not sprayed.
The same seed store can get in wheat but as you say it's been sprayed and not safe for consumption. I can get the wheat at an elevator and as far as I know it's safe for consumption. I mentioned about using it for brewing and they didn't say anything about it being sprayed and that I could try it for brewing.
 

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Just going to reply to this real quick then need to get back to work lol
I can't get barely from the elevator, they don't stock it, not enough demand. However, I can get it from a seed store and it's not sprayed.
The same seed store can get in wheat but as you say it's been sprayed and not safe for consumption. I can get the wheat at an elevator and as far as I know it's safe for consumption. I mentioned about using it for brewing and they didn't say anything about it being sprayed and that I could try it for brewing.
I know some co-ops, like Azure sell sproutable seeds that are often organic. Of course, you pay for this quality. ;)
 

bracconiere

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However, I can get it from a seed store and it's not sprayed.

are you still trying to grow your own, or just malt now?

malting as easy as sprouting the kernels, then when the acrospire is just peaking out...gently drying with cool air for a day, then kilning at ~170f, for 12 hours or so...then figuring out how to deculm(blowing the dry rootlet out of the now malt)
 

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do they treat wheat destined for livestock? because it tastes like crap.....i even ran some through my flour mill, and it just plain tastes bad....
I guess I can’t answer that with an honest answer. I don’t know what they would put on it. I personally don’t think raw wheat is all that tasty to be honest. Maybe @grampamark can offer some more info again.
 

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Another quick addition… wheat isn’t usually a very common grain used for livestock feed. Corn, soybeans, oats, barley and sometimes grain sorghum will be used much more exclusively. I still can’t think of any reason or with what substance wheat would be “sprayed” with if it’s going to be used for feed.
 
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are you still trying to grow your own, or just malt now?

malting as easy as sprouting the kernels, then when the acrospire is just peaking out...gently drying with cool air for a day, then kilning at ~170f, for 12 hours or so...then figuring out how to deculm(blowing the dry rootlet out of the now malt)
Trying to grow my own ingredients for sure. I am excited to try it, even though I know it's going to be a lot of work lol.
I believe I have found all ingredients needed just have to buy it and try it. Have found a substitute Hop variety and if need be discovered I can use tree sap or honey as a priming sugar. My wife and I keep bees, so honey would be no problem (so far) if need be.
 
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By the way, if anyone is a beginner in brewing beer at home like I am, I highly recommend this book! Awesome book and money well spent! Will answer most if not all your questions and help guide you through the process
 

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By the way, if anyone is a beginner in brewing beer at home like I am, I highly recommend this book! Awesome book and money well spent! Will answer most if not all your questions and help guide you through the process
Also be aware that whole, home grown hops are somewhat of a crap shoot because, unless you have a lab analyze them, you’re not going to know their alpha acid content which is useful for knowing how much bittering potential they have. If you know the variety, you can research their average stats to help get you close. The AA content can also vary greatly from year to year depending on the annual growing conditions.
 

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Trying to grow my own ingredients for sure. I am excited to try it, even though I know it's going to be a lot of work lol.
I believe I have found all ingredients needed just have to buy it and try it. Have found a substitute Hop variety and if need be discovered I can use tree sap or honey as a priming sugar. My wife and I keep bees, so honey would be no problem (so far) if need be.

have to give it to you, that WILL 🤞 be some damn fine beer! :mug:
 

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You can contact your state college agronomy research center for info
This would be a good start in my mind also. Might find like minded folk or smaller scale farmers that may have shareable services/ideas to save on equipment costs etc.
Best of luck, maybe start a blog of your adventure. I like reading stories like these.
Cheers, :mug:
Joel B.
 
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Chris N

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I think this is a very interesting idea. Do you know any local farmers with a small seed drill? Guys that do cover crops have them. It may be more work to clean the machine out than it's worth, but . . .

Now harvest will be the worst part. I can't think of any 'easy' way to do that. Other than the old fashioned way.

Keep us posted!
Thank you, Nick! Good question, will have to look into it. I will for sure keep you updated :)
 
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