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Unmalted Grain ? - from Bayou Brew Babe

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Aloha,

I'm a Cajun lady currently living in Hawaii and hoping to get started in homebrewing. I come from a couple generations of wine, champagne and beer (malt extract syrup) makers. I hope to carry on something of the tradition. My husband likes something along pale ales, I like a range from stout to bock to wheat beer to lambic.

As I read a number of resources on homebrewing, I find I'm at a disadvantage as shipping costs get to be an issue where I live. I also have a habit of getting gung ho about projects, spend money, then quit. This is not always the case with me, but I'm not in a position to spend vast sums of money these days!

As I start collecting gear to try my first batch of beer, I'm hoping for some members who are either highly adventuresome, very tolerant, or have a good sense of humor to answer the following questions:

Is there indeed (as I read in an old book by George Leonard Herter) a way to make a beer type beverage using pearled barley and soft wheat as the grains? (I'm assuming this is "unmalted" material)

Put another and simpler way, can a person make a drinkable beverage using unmalted grain or grain like that found often in a health food store?

What I'm trying to do is to literally brew one batch of something drinkable enough to convince me that I can even successfully brew at home. From there, I'll be looking for more legitimate foundation ingredients and equipment to brew something more desirable to drink.

I'm trying to find suppliers of malt all grain or a dry form of malt extract for mail order. My goal is not to be "cheap", but shipping UPS to Hawaii is horrendous and I have to consider creativity and those willing to use USPS when possible. I may find I'll be better off trying mead or wine since the fruits here are plentiful. But my husband likes beer (as do I) and I would like to meet the challenge if possible.

I appreciate your indulgence and thoughts on the matter.
 

bikebryan

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The whole point of malting grains is to let it begin to sprout, so that the starches the grain contains are turned into fermentable sugars. Unmalted grain contains starches that have not started this conversion process.

In other words, you could try mashing with unmalted grain, but you wouldn't end up with what you expected as beer. It would probably have very little, if any, alcohol content and would probably taste horrible. Imagine dissolving hops in water and then driking them. You would likely pucker up from the bitterness. Now imagine that in your beer, with no malty sweetness to balance it. Yuck.
 
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That's why I'm looking you to you big strong experienced brewers! I appreciate the info and the tolerance. :rolleyes:

Aloha,

BBB
 

Janx

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Malted grain has the enzymes needed to convert starches to fermentable sugars. You need some percentage of malted grain in your mash in order to have any degree of success.

You can malt the grains from the health food store yourself if you like. The process is similar to making sprouts. You wet the grain, keep the grain moist for a while, and it sprouts. Once is has a sprout as long as the grain kernel, it is dried. That's malting.

You won't get the efficiency that you get from commercial malt if you make your own, but it can be fun.

Does morebeer.com deliver to Hawaii (the best State and the place I would live if I at all could ;))?
 

Jayjay1976

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Unmalted grain is fine as an adjunct, just need to be sure your base malt has enough diastatic power to convert it, and you may have to boil it to gelatinize before adding it to the mash.
 

RM-MN

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Each of the above posters has part of the answer. The malting of the grain is what activates the enzymes so they can convert the starches of the grain into fermentable sugar. The grains must be mashed, that is, milled to reduce them to smaller particles and then stir them into water that is heated so the resulting mash is within the range of 148 to 160F, held there long enough for the starches to become gelatinized and the enzymes act on the resulting gelatinized starch. Then one needs to separate the grains from the resulting sweet wort.

Modern malts have sufficient diastatic power (translate that to enzymes) to convert themselves and almost twice their weight in unmalted grain (pale malt, not Vienna or Munich). That means that you can order in some malted grain and mix it with your pearled barley or other unmalted grain. I wouldn't suggest you go with more than 50% unmalted.
 

mongoose33

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Since you want to see if you can brew (and yes, you can), why not start with a recipe and approach that guarantees a good outcome, instead of heading down a very experimental path?
 

mullet6577

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I may have missed it but I didn't see mention of which island you are on. Perhaps find a local homebrew shop to pick up some supplies to try your first batch before deciding on online ordering and shipping costs. It'll could be a bit more expensive that way but you won't need to buy in bulk to offset the shipping costs and you'll only be out whatever you spent for that first batch if you decide you don't care for it.
 
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