Monday, April 2, 2007

Down By The Old Malt Mill

Gee, I wish I had a barley mill. I want to experiment with the malt I've made and want to check out how it looks, feels and behaves compared to commercially available malts I've used before.

Waiting For Brew DayDiastatic Power
One thing of most interest is the diastatic power of the malt. A well modified base malt will have at least 20% more muscle so that things that cannot self convert their own starch can be included in the mash. The base malt has the extra amylase to convert other things such as corn, rice, unmalted barley and oatmeal. The amylase enzymes float around in the mash at 60 to 70ÂșC chomping all that starch into sugars.

Extract brewers need not worry as all the sugars are already available. So with extract recipe no enzymes are needed. Enzymes are denatured (killed) in the evaporation and or drying processes.

Anyways, back to the mill. The idea of a barley mill is to crush the grain and not shred its husk. We are going to need the husk intact to act as a filter in the lauter tun (aka cooler). We also don't want the seed to be pulverized into powder as the flour can cause gummy blobs that block the flow from the lauter tun and cause 'stuck mashes'. So the job the mill has to do is like a rolling pin with enough force to crumble the insides of the seed and yet leave the husk in pretty good shape.

Git Yer Rollin' Pin
Seeing as though I have no real barley mill, but I do have a rolling pin I thought I'd give that a go. By placing a few cups of malt in a heavy duty plastic bag I began rolling and crushing. I did this in the kitchen on the big cutting board.

The result was pretty good and looked consistent with what I was hoping for in a crush. Now a few cups is a few cups, but I have lots of cups to crush.

It's a lot of work, it's hot and I am getting thirsty. I guess I am going to have to make some beer soon.


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