Malting Wild Grasses?

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum:

Joined
Sep 30, 2022
Messages
5
Reaction score
1
Location
Arivaca, AZ
Howdy!

I'm new on here, been brewing for some years though. My non-brewing background is in botany and inventorying plant diversity for various land management agencies. I am especially fascinated by grasses and live in a region with an amazing diversity of wild grasses. Does anybody have experience malting with wild grass species of any kind? Probably just going to supplement ordinary barley grain because I'm guessing the flavor won't be strong enough... Looking for any tips, thanks in advance!

Species or genus recommendations from anyone who's tried would be awesome. I'm thinking of using the invasive Johnson Grass (Sorghum halepense) because it's everywhere out here, is currently producing seed, and has pretty large seeds that I figure would have more fermentable sugars available after malting...
 

hotbeer

Opinionated Newb
HBT Supporter
Joined
Mar 10, 2021
Messages
1,637
Reaction score
1,192
Beer was one of the early drivers in domesticating various grasses. So all the wild grasses that were useful probably were found long ago.

Since all we're getting from it is the fermentable sugars when malted and the flavor notes the malting process gives with it's variations, I'm not sure what you'd expect to get.

I suppose in a craft sort of way you might find a unique flavor that some wild grass imparts. But then it'd be all up to you to do everything to that grain to gather, malt it and make beer with it and all the in-between steps I left out..
 

PCABrewing

Recreational Brewer
Joined
Oct 28, 2021
Messages
549
Reaction score
545
Howdy!

I'm new on here, been brewing for some years though. My non-brewing background is in botany and inventorying plant diversity for various land management agencies. I am especially fascinated by grasses and live in a region with an amazing diversity of wild grasses. Does anybody have experience malting with wild grass species of any kind? Probably just going to supplement ordinary barley grain because I'm guessing the flavor won't be strong enough... Looking for any tips, thanks in advance!

Species or genus recommendations from anyone who's tried would be awesome. I'm thinking of using the invasive Johnson Grass (Sorghum halepense) because it's everywhere out here, is currently producing seed, and has pretty large seeds that I figure would have more fermentable sugars available after malting...
There is already a Sorghum malt available. I don't know if it is the sub-species you referenced.
 

PCABrewing

Recreational Brewer
Joined
Oct 28, 2021
Messages
549
Reaction score
545
Beer was one of the early drivers in domesticating various grasses. So all the wild grasses that were useful probably were found long ago.

Since all we're getting from it is the fermentable sugars when malted and the flavor notes the malting process gives with it's variations, I'm not sure what you'd expect to get.

I suppose in a craft sort of way you might find a unique flavor that some wild grass imparts. But then it'd be all up to you to do everything to that grain to gather, malt it and make beer with it and all the in-between steps I left out..
Probably the ratio of endosperm to the size of the grain had significant influence.
You could surely malt Kentucky Bluegrass but the yield would be really small.
That is one of the reasons cited for choosing 2-row over 6-row though I think that margin is decreasing.
 
OP
OP
paul_cianciolo
Joined
Sep 30, 2022
Messages
5
Reaction score
1
Location
Arivaca, AZ
Beer was one of the early drivers in domesticating various grasses. So all the wild grasses that were useful probably were found long ago.

Since all we're getting from it is the fermentable sugars when malted and the flavor notes the malting process gives with it's variations, I'm not sure what you'd expect to get.

I suppose in a craft sort of way you might find a unique flavor that some wild grass imparts. But then it'd be all up to you to do everything to that grain to gather, malt it and make beer with it and all the in-between steps I left out..
Yep definitely just looking to try it out in a craft sort of way, I figured adding other grains might add an interesting flavor and body.
 
OP
OP
paul_cianciolo
Joined
Sep 30, 2022
Messages
5
Reaction score
1
Location
Arivaca, AZ
There is already a Sorghum malt available. I don't know if it is the sub-species you referenced.
Interesting, did not know that. I wonder if it's a bit sweeter than barley? If I remember right the Sorghum genus is pretty closely related to the Saccharum genus..?
 

Kickass

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 25, 2009
Messages
1,197
Reaction score
844
Location
Tehachapi
I have nothing of value to add but this is very fascinating. I hope you continue to get positive and useful advise. And share your journey.
 

bracconiere

Jolly Alcoholic
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jan 19, 2018
Messages
25,144
Reaction score
14,953
Location
S.AZ
That is one of the reasons cited for choosing 2-row over 6-row though

i thought it was protein, and not needing it to fatten animals up? and wanting a light lager?

@paul_cianciolo we got a lot of yard waste here in AZ...maybe try something like this before buying grass seed at the hardware store...


just use the lawn trimings?
 
Last edited:

RM-MN

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Nov 26, 2010
Messages
15,175
Reaction score
6,311
Location
Solway
You could just add the milled seeds from the grasses you want to try without malting them. Pale malt barley has sufficient enzymes to convert other non-malted seeds up to about 50%.
 

madscientist451

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 10, 2014
Messages
5,629
Reaction score
3,442
Location
Bedford
I agree with RM-MN's statement, keep it simple. In addition, there are some issues related to malting sorghum, including the presence of molds that might produce toxins. Not sure if the wild grasses mentioned by the OP would have the same issues. The author of the blog post below also has a you tube video that shows how to use lye to kill the mold. It just doesn't seem worth it to me.....

 
OP
OP
paul_cianciolo
Joined
Sep 30, 2022
Messages
5
Reaction score
1
Location
Arivaca, AZ
i thought it was protein, and not needing it to fatten animals up? and wanting a light lager?

@paul_cianciolo we got a lot of yard waste here in AZ...maybe try something like this before buying grass seed at the hardware store...


just use the lawn trimings?
Would rather collect seed and other flavors from walking around the hills but thanks. I mostly enjoy brewing for the foraging aspect.
 
Top