Poor efficiency with millet and buckwheat

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

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

glutarded-chris

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 14, 2013
Messages
552
Reaction score
193
Location
New Smyrna Beach
I would really appreciate any help from those of you that have some experience with partial mash or all grain with millet and buckwheat. If there is something obvious that I am doing wrong or that I am not doing properly, I would really like to know it.

My efficiency seems to be really crappy compared to what others say they are getting and I suspect that I am still getting too much unconverted starch. Not sure if it is my water, which I build up from purified water (I don’t have a good pH meter and the strips just plain suck) or if it is my mash process somehow or maybe this would be expected with the amount of buckwheat and roasted grains I am using.

The latest batches I did were 6lb total grain (2 lb buckwheat pale, 2.5 lb millet pale, 0.75 buckwheat munich, 0.75 dark roasted millet). I posted the first version here:
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f240/gluten-free-amber-ale-partial-mash-454684/

I start the main mash with everything but the buckwheat pale malt (4 pounds) with 5 quarts water and hold at a rest of 165F for 30 to 60 minutes.

I cerial mash the buckwheat (2 pounds) by adding 3 quarts boiling water and stir for 10 to 15 minutes. Final temp ends up at about 180F. Combine with rest of mash.

Add cold water to bring total mash down to 130F to 140F. Add SEBrew (1.5 g) and a teaspoon or two of Amylase. Mash ends up just under 2 quarts per pound for final hold (60 minutes).

Starch test using a drop or two of iodine with a splash of wart kept coming up jet black. Finally just collected first runnings and sparged with 175 to 180F regular drinking water.

Each time collected 3.5 gallons of wart and gravity of about 1.023 (sample cooled to room temp). By my calculations this represents only 13.4 ppg yield which is pretty bad. Most are getting much better than that.

The beer has come out great each time but feel I am just not getting everything out of the grain that I should be.
 

Ski

Member
Joined
Nov 14, 2012
Messages
12
Reaction score
1
I just had a similar problem but even worse. Ended up with gravity of about 1.012 using millet and buckwheat malt as my main. I didn't control the drying of the malt very accurately though so guess I might have killed of any diatastic power they had, I tried to compensate by adding shed loads of amalese but to no great effect. Still, its in the fermenter now, will add more enzymes and hope the residual starch gets converted and adds to the sugar content.
 
OP
glutarded-chris

glutarded-chris

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 14, 2013
Messages
552
Reaction score
193
Location
New Smyrna Beach
Have not malted my own grain yet. Did a lot of reading on it and it looked pretty elaborate and required a lot of periodic attention which is where I would struggle with my schedule. I am using CMC and Grouse grain so I am guessing that the malting was done correctly and I just didn't provide the right environment for the enzymes. I have wanted to try Quinoa and Teff for a long time now but have not been able to get my hands on any, so I might have to take the plunge and do some malting eventually!
 

igliashon

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2012
Messages
937
Reaction score
99
Location
Oakland
Hi Chris, I see a few potential problems here:

I start the main mash with everything but the buckwheat pale malt (4 pounds) with 5 quarts water and hold at a rest of 165F for 30 to 60 minutes.
Try a step-mash. 120, 135, 158. Then follow the steps I outline below.

I cerial mash the buckwheat (2 pounds) by adding 3 quarts boiling water and stir for 10 to 15 minutes. Final temp ends up at about 180F. Combine with rest of mash.
You need to boil that stuff, not just add boiling water and let rest. Boil at least 5 minutes, STIRRING VIGOROUSLY to prevent scorching. A light boil is fine, keep the heat on low.

BEGIN EDIT I don't know what I was thinking yesterday, I haven't brewed in a couple weeks and probably hadn't had enough coffee when I was posting here. Cereal mash goes BEFORE even starting the step-mash. First, no more than 25% of your grist should be cereal-mashed. Millet's enzymes aren't plentiful enough to handle more than that, IMO. Second, the whole point of the step mash is that the protease, glucanase, and cellulase enzymes from the millet malt should break down the adjuncts the way promalt would, making maximal amount of starch available for conversion. So cereal mash, top up with water to cool to 120 and get enough water for the main mash. Mash in with the remaining grist, ramp up through the steps I mentioned above, and do a final mash-out at 170°F. THEN proceed to add more water to cool back down for the enzyme step. THAT is how I do it. LOL. END EDIT

Add cold water to bring total mash down to 130F to 140F. Add SEBrew (1.5 g) and a teaspoon or two of Amylase. Mash ends up just under 2 quarts per pound for final hold (60 minutes).
With amylase additions, you want to do it in a ***thin*** mash. When I add enzymes after the grain-only mash, I have added enough water to bring it up to about 2.7 quarts/lb. I also do this rest at 150, although you can go lower if you want a drier beer (I know beta-amylase starts to denature above 140, but it does act pretty quick on the partially-mashed and fully-gelatinized grains). 30 minutes of rest here should be sufficient.

Starch test using a drop or two of iodine with a splash of wart kept coming up jet black. Finally just collected first runnings and sparged with 175 to 180F regular drinking water.
I don't starch test, but I never have problems with full attenuation (even EXCESSIVE attenuation in some cases) so my methods don't seem to be leaving any residual starch.

Each time collected 3.5 gallons of wart and gravity of about 1.023 (sample cooled to room temp). By my calculations this represents only 13.4 ppg yield which is pretty bad. Most are getting much better than that.
Don't factor your efficiency until after boil off. 3.5 gallons of 1.023 should be more like 3 gallons of 1.027. Not much better, but every little bit counts.

I don't sparge, I pour the finished mash into a bottling bucket lined with a FINE MESH (as fine as I can find) nylon grain bag. Re-circulate a couple times, and then drain slowly, adding some cold water at the end if my volume isn't quite where I want it. My mashes always finish up with close to the full volume of brewing water in the mash. It's not an elegant method but my efficiencies (estimating 30 PPG for millet malt) are always at least 75% and my attenuation is always at least 80% (I've seen up to 90% a couple times, too!).

In my experience, the step mash is critical. The initial saccharification rest (w/o enzymes added) needs to stay below 160. I don't care if the nominal gelatinization temp of millet is 163, by the end of that 158 rest I have a kettle full of tasty sweet wort. The amylase doesn't help much with the OG, maybe adding only 3-5 points; it's mostly just the fermentability of the wort. Without it, I only get around 60-65% attenuation.

I look forward to the day that I can hire a food chemist to analyze millet's enzymes and help me optimize the mash procedure further, but for now, what I'm doing works just peachy.
 
OP
glutarded-chris

glutarded-chris

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 14, 2013
Messages
552
Reaction score
193
Location
New Smyrna Beach
Thanks Igliashon! I do use a voile grain bag that I made myself so I do have good filtration. I used a step mash in my earlier batches but moved to a 5 gallon cooler to simplify the process thinking I could avoid losing ground. I will regroup and go back to the step mash and use the schedule you suggest.

The first time I cereal mashed buckwheat I scorched the $%#$ out of it and noticed that the stiff mash boiled at about 180F, so next batch I just added boiling water and put it there for 10 minutes minimum. I will add more water next time and boil it without leaving it alone for a second.

Do you think the amount of roasted grain I used played a role in lowering the efficiency?

What do you think about the mash water? Do you have good water and always use that or do you build yours up for certain types?
Just after I posted this I ordered a Ward lab test to see if I can use my local water. The weather is good in New Smyrna Beach, but the water leaves something to be desired!

Do you have any experience/thoughts on SEBrew versus Amylase? I know you have discussed promalt before but have not seen where to get that.

Chris
 

igliashon

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2012
Messages
937
Reaction score
99
Location
Oakland
Thanks Igliashon! I do use a voile grain bag that I made myself so I do have good filtration. I used a step mash in my earlier batches but moved to a 5 gallon cooler to simplify the process thinking I could avoid losing ground. I will regroup and go back to the step mash and use the schedule you suggest.
Grind size could also be a factor. What are you grinding on, and how fine is your grist? I aim for medium to fine grits consistency, like cream of rice cereal.

The first time I cereal mashed buckwheat I scorched the $%#$ out of it and noticed that the stiff mash boiled at about 180F, so next batch I just added boiling water and put it there for 10 minutes minimum. I will add more water next time and boil it without leaving it alone for a second.
What temp did you mash in for the cereal mash? And what are you boiling on, kitchen stove or propane burner?

Do you think the amount of roasted grain I used played a role in lowering the efficiency?
I generally presume the dark roasted malts provide 5-10 PPG lower than pale malts, with the darker grains being lower. 25% of your grain bill was roasted, but only 12.5% was dark-roasted. I think if anything was responsible, it was too much buckwheat! I generally keep the buckwheat at no more than 25%, and only use it as a roast or specialty grain. Millet, even Grouse millet, doesn't have the ability to convert a whole lot of adjunct, and with your 165 degree mash, you ensured that very, very little of its enzymes could survive.

Also, I don't know where my head was at yesterday, but my mash recommendation was off. IDK WTF I was thinking. I'm gonna edit it in the original response.

What do you think about the mash water? Do you have good water and always use that or do you build yours up for certain types?
I use RO water. Sometimes I add gypsum, 1.3g per gallon. This is one area where I still have a lot of learning to do. I suspect my IPAs have been a little "floppy" as of late due to incorrect water profiles. But the RO water never hurts my efficiency.

Do you have any experience/thoughts on SEBrew versus Amylase? I know you have discussed promalt before but have not seen where to get that.
Haven't tried SEBrew yet. Still using EC Kraus Diatase. Promalt, you can't get unless you have an account with BSG, which means you have to be a licensed commercial brewer. But it's not necessary with a high percentage of millet malt.
 
OP
glutarded-chris

glutarded-chris

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 14, 2013
Messages
552
Reaction score
193
Location
New Smyrna Beach
I was using a Corona mill up to the last batch and got a mixture of fine and medium grind. Got tired of grain dust going everywhere and having to adjust the plates constantly during the grind, so when I was sure I would be continuing to do at least partial mash batches well into the future, I invested in a MM3-2.0. This last batch was the first run on it. I left the factory setting and ran the millet through twice. I am going to tighten up on it a bit to get a finer crush on the millet on this next batch. I will never go back to the old mill!

For the cereal mash I have done it where I added the boiling water to the grain and where I added the grain to the water. I figured that since I was heating the heck out of it and essentially making Buckwheat porridge, that “shocking” the grain was not an issue.
Now I do the cereal mash on an electric stove top so stirring and keeping it from scorching is not a problem. The rest of the heating I do on a propane floor burner.

Next batch I am going to reduce the Buckwheat and all roasted grain to below 25% (1.5 lb Buckwheat in an 8 lb total grain bill). I may try the liquid Diastase Enzyme as it may be easier to get evenly distributed in the mash than the powder I am using now.

Now I need to work through the process of getting those step mashes and where to add heat etc. By my calculations, if I try to get those by just adding boiling or cold water, I will end up way too thin at the end. Going to have to work out where I add heat, where I add hot water and when I transfer to a vessel with the mesh bag.

Thanks! Let you know how it turns out.
 

igliashon

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2012
Messages
937
Reaction score
99
Location
Oakland
You could also combine the 120 and 135 degree steps at around 130 degrees. I've been doing this lately and it doesn't seem to be causing any problems. But yeah, I direct-fire the steps to raise up and only add water to cool, I'm not sure you could succeed with infusions only, unless you mash in REALLY thick.

I've never heard of anyone succeeding with the powdered amylase. I always use liquid, and always the stuff from EC Kraus.
 
OP
glutarded-chris

glutarded-chris

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 14, 2013
Messages
552
Reaction score
193
Location
New Smyrna Beach
OK, I think I have a plan and am going to give this a shot. Got the liquid enzyme on order because my LHBS does not carry it. :-(
My calculations show I can hit 2.8 quarts/lb with infusion method by combining the first two steps to 130F. I am afraid of active heating with my mesh bag so I will try with infusion and see if I can improve on my previous batches.

Let you know how it turns out!
 

ICWiener

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2012
Messages
839
Reaction score
111
Location
Northern Cali
Wow, quite an intense mash schedule, but if that's what it takes...I suppose it's worth it.

I'm looking forward to jumping into all grain GF beers. Making a GF oatmeal coconut stout in the next few weeks here. Got the grain, just reading up on technique now. This thread is quite helpful, thanks guys.
 

igliashon

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2012
Messages
937
Reaction score
99
Location
Oakland
It seems intense until you try doing a triple decoction mash. Then imagine doing a triple decoction mash with 17th-century technology :). What we're doing as GF brewers is a walk in the park compared to what barley brewers had to deal with a couple hundred years ago. Reading books on the history of beer is great for keeping things in perspective!
 

ICWiener

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2012
Messages
839
Reaction score
111
Location
Northern Cali
It seems intense until you try doing a triple decoction mash. Then imagine doing a triple decoction mash with 17th-century technology . What we're doing as GF brewers is a walk in the park compared to what barley brewers had to deal with a couple hundred years ago. Reading books on the history of beer is great for keeping things in perspective!
No doubt about that. I've done a turbid mash...trust me, I'm up to speed on complex mashes.

So even with malted GF grains coming from CMC, a cereal mash is still necessary huh? What kind of difference in efficiency would I see if I just did an infusion step mash and added diatase enzyme?
 
OP
glutarded-chris

glutarded-chris

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 14, 2013
Messages
552
Reaction score
193
Location
New Smyrna Beach
Igliashon,

If you are still following this thread, I received the Diatase from KC Kraus. Their write-up/directions indicate for barley brewers, you add the enzymes at the beginning of the step mash with the adjuncts. We are dropping down for a conversion rest at the end, but do you add a little bit at the beginning of the mash also to help out the natural enzymes of the millet?

Chris
 
OP
glutarded-chris

glutarded-chris

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 14, 2013
Messages
552
Reaction score
193
Location
New Smyrna Beach
@ AGGF_Brewing,
Yes, I have seen versions of that and Andrew Lavery was the basis for my first partial mash batches:
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f164/partial-mash-test-millet-versus-buckwheat-430639/
My results were not excellent for the complicated schedule required and his methods seemed to be well suited to millet only mash but not very well suited to significant portion of buckwheat. I ventured toward a simpler mash schedule, and took a big step backward.

@ Igliashon,
Yesterday I ran a batch and came up with pretty respectable results. I went for a pale beer to use less roasted malt, made some water chemistry improvements (I think), used basically the mash schedule you suggested and got about 23.8 ppg.

Grain bill:
4 lb 11 oz pale millet (Grouse white millet)
5 oz millet crystal (CMC)
1 lb pale buckwheat

I doughed in the millet for a short rest at 105F while I cereal mashed the buckwheat.
Did rests at 130F, 158F, 175F and 148F
I put an extra teaspoon of diatase enzyme in at the beginning of the millet mash
I did a teabag sparge in 1.5 gallon of 180F water at the end to get a little extra out of the grain.

I collected 4.75 gallon at 1.030 gravity.

Thanks! My next batch I will use a higher portion of roasted grain to see if I maintain this level.

Chris
 

igliashon

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2012
Messages
937
Reaction score
99
Location
Oakland
Hi Chris, what did you do with the 4.75 gallons of 1.030 wort? Boil down to 4 gallons? 3 gallons?

With 6 lbs of grain and a resulting 4.75 gallons of 1.030 wort, I'd say you did pretty good! The last batch I brewed, I used about 6.5 lbs of millet in various stages of roast and post-boil I had 3 gallons of 1.050 wort. I had collected around 4 gallons of 1.040 wort (assuming my hydrometer temperature correction was accurate) before the boil.

Oh, and to answer your earlier question (sorry I don't check in here as often as I used to!): I don't add the enzyme at mash-in like they recommend. Just seems like a waste of enzymes. Then again, I probably SHOULD test to see if adding the enzymes in the beginning obviates the whole mash-out/crash cool/re-mash process! Good god, if we could skip that step it would knock an hour or two off our brew day! WTF have I been thinking!? I'll try that this week and see how it goes!
 
OP
glutarded-chris

glutarded-chris

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 14, 2013
Messages
552
Reaction score
193
Location
New Smyrna Beach
I did a partial mash so I boiled the collected wart and then only had to top off a gallon or so for 5.5 gal in the fermentor. I suspect that the last rest is still needed, but I am with you, it would be nice to limit the steps. For now, I am going to keep the full complicated schedule because it seems to work! Thanks again!
 

Maxham51

Member
Joined
Aug 15, 2014
Messages
13
Reaction score
0
I have tried Millet from 2 sources and it makes a big difference.
I used the 130, 140, 150 deg mash schedule for the Pale millet from Grouse Malting Co.
The only way I could get it to convert is to add Sweet Potato at about 1 lb, some amalyse and 1/4 lbs of 6 row for every 5 lbs Millet malt, With a schedual of 30 min @ 130, 30 min @ 140 and 60 min @ 150 it would fully convert.
Next I tried red millet from Colorado Brewing company. I just used a schedual of 30 min @ 130 and 60 min at 153, It fully converted with no additional enzymes.
I have found it takes about 1.7 lbs of Millet Malt to give me the same points as 1 lb of 2 row.
 
OP
glutarded-chris

glutarded-chris

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 14, 2013
Messages
552
Reaction score
193
Location
New Smyrna Beach
There have been several posts recently on the difference between malts from Grouse and CMC. Both suppliers have shown improvement in the last few years and I expect that to continue. Some differences may be related to white versus red millet. In any case, I hope growers start developing “brewer’s millet”! Time will tell if we have enough commercial pull to motivate growers to compete for our business.

I don’t, but if you brew both barley and GF grains, then you have a good perspective on “true” differences. Up to now, my experience has been that my single infusion was in the range of 15 to 18 ppg yield and my step mashes with decoction bringing enzyme rich mash water forward was 21 to 23 ppg. If a typical barley base mash yield is 28 to 30 ppg then my single infusion mash experience would suggest about 1.7 lb millet for 1 lb barley. For my complicated mash schedule, it would suggest about 1.3 lb millet for 1 lb barley.

I don’t know if other gluten free all grain brewers would agree that it takes a higher OG with GF grain to achieve similar characteristics of the finish product, but if so that would also suggest that even more grain would be needed with millet.

There has been a lot of discussion in the last month on best ways to do single infusion mashes with millet base and I am hopeful that I can get a simpler mash up to the 21 to 23 ppg range. That puts about 14 lb grain for a 5 gallon batch.
 

brwmistr

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 10, 2012
Messages
113
Reaction score
15
Location
Ontario
Fellow Millet fans:
I get millet that can be sprouted first (you will have to source this in your area) then sprout it for two days until the tails are twice the length of the kernel. Then i dry it out using 300watt dehydrator until the grain temp hits 40-50Cel. I then figure what recipe I want and roast the grains I need. If you let the base malt go over 50cel you will damage the enzymes. Only roast what you need for the flavor and color grains and not all the grain. I see that some are getting very low gravity points and that's because the grain has been heated too high. I roast my "vienna" at 300F for 25mins and "Munich" at 350F for 25mins. The Pale malt is only cured at 170F for up to 3 hrs until the sprout turn brown and then process it to break the shoots off it. Hope this hopes some.
 

Legume

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 7, 2013
Messages
363
Reaction score
102
If you are willing to use suplamental enzymes, you do not need to use malted grain for your base malt. I use lightly toasted millet and buckwheat as base malt.
For specilalty grains I do use rice malt.
The mash schedual I am using is a bit of a pain, but its no worse than what most are doing when using malted millet.
 
Top