Malting Barley At Home - who does it? Do you have your own special malt?

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eldernut

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Had a search but didn't find any recent discussions on this. I decided to enter the realm of beer brewing from scratch by malting barley at home as well. I was just curious on how to do it and it's helped me understand the difference between the various speciality and base malts. I'm new to this and have only malted a total of 5kgs of raw barley so far. I've produced pale malt, crystal malts and a biscuit malt (which was actually a failed crystal malt that happens to taste very nutty and toasty but dry not sweet).

Here's what I've been doing by reading this blog, and then adapting for what I have at home. The idea was to just play around without buying a heap of stuff and see what happens. Barley is cheap enough to have a play.
https://brewingbeerthehardway.wordpress.com/

Steeping - I just put my washed malt in a bucket and cover with 4 inches of water and leave it for 24hrs. I live subtropical and so the ambient temps are perfect for sprouting grain. I put the kettle in the coolest spot in the garden to keep the temps low with a lid on it. I tried a 48hr steep with aeration but this caused a lot of grain loss and uneven germination. I guess this is more important under cooler temperatures but in 27C ambient temps water uptake by the grain is much faster and suffocation can occur even with aeration periods. It really doesn't like being immersed in water again once the chemical process has started in earnest.

Germinating - I have plenty of animals and a rats/possums are pretty common in this area too so floor malting wasn't an option. Instead I put a kg in a clean pillowcase, hang it under my pergola in the shade. For the first two days of germination I spray these bags down with the hose to keep them wet. The prevailing winds pass through the bag and keep the seed cool like an evaporative cooler. With a decent quantity of wet malt (min 1kg) the seed does not dry out nor get hot. A couple of times a day I shake the bags to move the grains around so they don't mat. I pack the bag away in a lockable cabinet in a kettle overnight and in the morning can usually feel some slight heat to them. They cool off once strung up again.

Halting growth - My grain is usually fully converted early day four so I put it directly into a home food dehydrator on low. Usually about 35 C it dehydrates the grain pretty rapidly, within 12hrs it down to 10% moisture. Then I treat it however to create the various malt types.

Pale Malt - I dehydrate on lowest temp until around 4% moisture then cure on high in the dehydrator (around 75 C for three hours).

Crystal malt - instead of dehydrating and put the green sprouted grain directly into a rice cooker and put it on the warming function for several hours. Within 1 hr the temp is around 55C and then climbs 5C every hour. After 4hrs I check the grain and if it's fully liquified I then transfer it to the dehydrator on medium (40 C) until it reaches 10% moisture. After that cure in the oven at 80C for however many hours necessary to reach the desired colour and flavours. Usually between 2 to 5hrs at this temp. Creates a very sweet glassy kernel with various notes of caramel, toffee and burnt sugar notes.

Biscuit Malt - this was a crystal malt experiment that went wrong. I was attempting to stew the crystal grain in the dehydrator by adding a pool of water to the bottom and running it on high (75C). This dehydrator has a top motor and just an empty plastic well in the bottom. But it still dried the grain out too quickly and within 8hrs I was down to 4%. So I removed it, added 30gms of water to the grain in a pan, mixed it around to rehydrate a bit then put it in the oven on 95C for several hours. The result was a malt looking similar to pale malt but with a popcorn coloured kernel on the inside instead of white. Within a few days it started to smell of bread and crackers. So I steeped some of it and found it to be decidely nutty and sweet with a dry after taste. Labelled it biscuit malt L25 and am using it in my next brew.

Next stop? I'm planning to do an aromatic and brown malt so I can make some dark ales. Anyone else have some home malting adventures? I'm keen to learn from anyone.
 

sixhotdogneck

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Ideal steep temperatures are in the mid to upper 50'sF probably 54-59F.

Have a read of Malts and Malting (Briggs, et. al.)

Try steeping schedules such as those listed in Malts and Malting. Usually a total of 40hrs should get the moisture content of the malt at 40%+ with chits.

You seem to know the moisture content of your malt and so must use the weigh method or have a moisture meter? The meters are handy.

There are many resources across the Internet but you'll have to search for them:

https://www.sprowtlabs.com/2017/02/23/how-to-malt-at-home
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/adventures-home-malting.html
 
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eldernut

eldernut

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Ideal steep temperatures are in the mid to upper 50'sF probably 54-59F.

Have a read of Malts and Malting (Briggs, et. al.)

Try steeping schedules such as those listed in Malts and Malting. Usually a total of 40hrs should get the moisture content of the malt at 40%+ with chits.

You seem to know the moisture content of your malt and so must use the weigh method or have a moisture meter? The meters are handy.

There are many resources across the Internet but you'll have to search for them:

https://www.sprowtlabs.com/2017/02/23/how-to-malt-at-home
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/adventures-home-malting.html

Thanks. I'll keep on the look out for more info to get better over time.
 

bracconiere

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I malt my own in my spare bath tub. i do 20lb batches and modded my oven with a 200ohm resistor to get a consistent 150f in it for kilning.

I found the food dehydrator which i started out with, couldn't fit enough malt, and cost too much to run. so bought some sweater drying racks, and just use a box fan blowing air over them for a couple days now... according to the weight of my finished malt i get over 80% efficiency, so i figure i'm doing good on enzymes and, tastes alright?

Crystal malt i get the wet grain kernels up to 150f for an hour, then dry. then kiln at 220f for 12 hours. have to do it low and slow or they burn for me....

plus for deculming (removing rootlets). i found two box fans stacked and storage totes works best...let me find a pic.

100_0466.JPG


just pass it back and forth for a dozen or so times. or until you don't see any more debris blowing off the malt.

(and a ~8 dollar 10 gal batch makes it all worth it!)
 

bracconiere

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dug up another photo of my 'system' here's my sweater drying racks at work. box fan dries them good enough in a day, but i give them two anyway...less gas in the oven that way..

100_0470.JPG
 
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eldernut

eldernut

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dug up another photo of my 'system' here's my sweater drying racks at work. box fan dries them good enough in a day, but i give them two anyway...less gas in the oven that way..

View attachment 600828

I like this setup for bulk malting, simple yet effective and cost efficient too. I already had the food driers and I only do 1 gallon batches anyway so I don't need to malt more than a few kgs at a time. But for higher volume this is ingenious.
 

bracconiere

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yeah, i could get 8 pounds out of the food dehydrator. but i brew 10 gal batches, so had to increase to 20lbs of malt.

plus the food dehydrator burns a lot of electricity. this way when you factor the kWh of elec to run the fan, the gas for kilning, and 12.99 for a bag of barley. costs me about ~29 cents a pound for malt. that and year old hops, glucoamylase. and voila an 8 dollar 10 gal batch, that weighs in at 8% alcohol...

I don't have any special malts i make though? which ones do you make and how?
 
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eldernut

eldernut

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yeah, i could get 8 pounds out of the food dehydrator. but i brew 10 gal batches, so had to increase to 20lbs of malt.

plus the food dehydrator burns a lot of electricity. this way when you factor the kWh of elec to run the fan, the gas for kilning, and 12.99 for a bag of barley. costs me about ~29 cents a pound for malt. that and year old hops, glucoamylase. and voila an 8 dollar 10 gal batch, that weighs in at 8% alcohol...

I don't have any special malts i make though? which ones do you make and how?

So far I've only made crystal and a toasted one. I need to do a lot more reading to try and come up with anything else. Apparently the aromatic goes through a couching phase - after you get to green, instead of drying it straight away, put it in an airtight container for 24hrs-36hrs and it will sweat and develop a high sweetness as well as some lactic acid. I did this last batch and over the course of 36hrs smelt like everything from fresh apples to dark honey. I meant to kiln it at this stage for aromatic but it went too far and began to liquify so I stewed it and turned it into crystal instead. I plan on doing it again and this time only couching for 24hrs then drying at low temps. Apparently this makes honey/aromatic type malt with slight acidity.
 

bracconiere

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So a day of no fresh air huh? i've just made crystals by mashing them in the kernel in the oven at 150f for a couple hours, then roasting them at 210-230f for a 12 hour cycle just different colors... i've been wanting to try and use my pressure cooker on the wet grain after the 150f wet rest, to see if high wet heat would give it something unique or not...then roast it lightly of course
 
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eldernut

eldernut

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So a day of no fresh air huh? i've just made crystals by mashing them in the kernel in the oven at 150f for a couple hours, then roasting them at 210-230f for a 12 hour cycle just different colors... i've been wanting to try and use my pressure cooker on the wet grain after the 150f wet rest, to see if high wet heat would give it something unique or not...then roast it lightly of course

Yep. I found this blog really good, lots of drying, temps and times for different kinds of malts. I made the Special B as per his instructions but haven't tried it yet. It's still resting.

https://brewingbeerthehardway.wordpress.com/
 

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