fermenting on the grain

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fermenting on the grain

Postby jim81147 » Sun Oct 08, 2006 2:44 pm

Does the ABV of your mash go up if you ferment on the grains or do you produce a wash with more flavor? With my beer setup I can mash in a tun then take the runnings and ferment them . I would think that you would come up with a much cleaner mash in a shorter amount of time. Is my thinking flawed here.
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Postby junkyard dawg » Sun Oct 08, 2006 3:43 pm

No, your on the right track. If you have the tools, then mashing with a good beer setup is a great way to go. This is what I would like to do for making grain neutral spirits If you ferment on the grain there are a few positives... One is that starch conversion can continue to go on if you add the right enzymes. (higher abv) Two is there is perhaps more flavor. You may or may not like this tho...
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Re: fermenting on the grain

Postby Horse_Shoe » Sun Jul 03, 2011 9:00 am

I agree.
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Re: fermenting on the grain

Postby rtalbigr » Sun Jul 03, 2011 9:14 am

Personally, I never found much difference in abv or flavor by fermenting on grain or off. However, to me it seems much more of a mess seperating off the grain when I did ferment on grain, so I don't do it. It always seemed much easier to rack the wort off just the lees instead of havin' all that grain in the way. Another plus for off grain for me is that after the ferment is done I can let it set for a few days and I get much better settling out of the yeast and the lees are much more compact, it's a lot simplier to rack that way.

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Re: fermenting on the grain

Postby Horse_Shoe » Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:17 pm

RTalbird,

That last part of your statement makes pretty good sense. I can see where the yeast would settle better for racking.
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Re: fermenting on the grain

Postby blind drunk » Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:30 pm

I go on the grain, but only until the cap falls, which is usually a couple of days. Then I do the straining part and put the mash into a clean carboy. Then the lees start falling pretty soon after that. When I get a fair bit of those, I'll rack again just to keep the wort clean of dead yeasty by-products. The rackings seems to help speed up the lees falling. Overall, not a great way, I'll admit, but that's all I've committed to so far.
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Re: fermenting on the grain

Postby rtalbigr » Sun Jul 03, 2011 5:13 pm

BD - Dont get me wrong cuz I know how I develop a system and want to stick to it, but every time ya rack you're introducin O2 into the wash unless you're purgin' w/ CO2. The yeast need O2 for 36-48 hrs but if ya want good ethanol production they need to go into anaerobic conditions. When ya keep introducin' O2 you're puttin them in some stress and then they want to make stuff that we don't really want. I aint critizin I'm just sayin.

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Re: fermenting on the grain

Postby blind drunk » Sun Jul 03, 2011 5:30 pm

I aint critizin I'm just sayin.


I know :thumbup:
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Re: fermenting on the grain

Postby Horse_Shoe » Sat Jul 30, 2011 8:36 pm

Update on the "on the grains ferment." Here's what I did. I fermented a batch of smoked malt barley on the grains. As soon as fermentation stopped I distilled 1/3 of the batch. I have a small pot still, so I have to batch everything. Two days later I fermented the second 1/3 of the batch. Working on the final third of the batch now. Each portion was distilled a couple of days apart. So, the final portion was distilled 5-6 days after the first portion. The results are: the first portion was perfect and smooth. The second portion was good, but was bitter and too grainy. The third portion, which sat on the grains the longest, was pretty harsh and bitter. I ended up filtering that portion with charcoal and recovering the product, yet sacrificing the good grain flavor. This experiment leads me to only one conclusion: I would rather ferment the mash off the grains. Its hard work up front and I really believe that the final product is better, while not having to involve charcoal filtering.

The end product, blended, oaked with dowels, and distressed aged for a week is as good as any store bought single malt scotch whiskey I've ever tasted (no, I don't mind tootin' my own horn.) :clap:

This is definitely a recipe that I plan on continuing. I am fermenting another batch now, using the back-set from that previous one. Of course, I strained off the mash from the grains and had to add some sodium bicarbonate to temper the ph some.
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Re: fermenting on the grain

Postby Tomc » Tue Sep 06, 2011 2:57 pm

Very interesting lads. I was talking about this subject at work and look, you guys answered our questions. We are starting a batch with smoked malt tomorrow evening.
Thanks for your work,
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Re: fermenting on the grain

Postby rtalbigr » Tue Sep 06, 2011 3:08 pm

With cereal grains,esp. barley, when ya ferment on grain you're gonna pick up a lot of tannins, thus the off flavors you're getting.

Why spend a lot of effort producing a nice whisky if ya got to filter it to get rid of bad flavors?

Corn ya can ferment on grain and get some flavor boost, cereal grains, not recommended.

Also, cereal grains gelatanize at lower temps than corn, cooking them at temps much above 170F will also result in a lot of tannins in the wash. Sort of a tricky balance there.

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Re: fermenting on the grain

Postby W.S.C.beachman » Sat Sep 10, 2011 7:12 am

OK so corn on the grain all else not on the grain. Ive done all mine on all the grain, but I like to use the same grains for every ferment. So I could use the the same corn and put it in a bag and use new grains (barley, oats, what ever) for every batch??
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Re: fermenting on the grain

Postby Dnderhead » Sat Sep 10, 2011 10:30 am

why do you want to reuse grain as there should not be any starch left if done right.
hard grain like corn/maze takes a bunch of cooking so start cooking that first,then bring down
to temp you want to cook other grain at,,this way your using more water to cook the corn in
and less fuss.

so say your using 50/50./ 6 gal ferment.git about 7 gallon water boiling,,add the corn
boil this about 1 hour,,when cooled to 145f or about,, add other grain/ malt(soft grain takes about 1/2 hour)
now from here it splits on ideas,but i just let mine cool on its own,,
then drain into fermenter, add hot water to the spent grain,,(some use 1/4-1/3 the water and do this 3-4 times)
then use this water for cooking the next mash.(using rince water will git most all the sugers,so they are not wasted.
and add about 3 points to the next mash..
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Re: fermenting on the grain

Postby W.S.C.beachman » Sat Sep 10, 2011 12:37 pm

Hey Dnder,
The grain I use for the first ferment I leave in the fermenter and add water and back-set to that. I use sugar for my alch..I started making beer as well and that has led me on to the whole other side of things. I would just like to use grains in multiple ferments(of the same progressive batch) so I don't have to go buy more grains. Its worked well for me so fare but now I am thinking of doing more like beer.
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Re: fermenting on the grain

Postby Dnderhead » Sat Sep 10, 2011 1:31 pm

reusing the grain in sugar head works because the grain is not broken down all at once it a gradual proses and that is one resion it gits better the more "generations"..a true mash is not that way and the starch will be used up or should be.if so then you wont git more flavor from them. only tannins.
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Re: fermenting on the grain

Postby W.S.C.beachman » Sun Sep 11, 2011 6:32 am

Is there a bowing icon Dnder?? :) For the last day or so I have been rethinking the way I do my whiskey grains. Now that I see the light.....How much grain do you guys use(lbs/gln) When I make beer it is more to get the OG that I want, well as far as for the starches and some for flavor, but with whiskey we can add sugar to a batch to bring up the gravity. I was thinking of 1.25-1.5lbs per gallon. Is this kinda in the ball park??
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Re: fermenting on the grain

Postby Dnderhead » Sun Sep 11, 2011 7:42 am

id start with 1.5 and work up.iv used 3 it worked ok and tried 4 but it seems that the efficiency drops off.
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Re: fermenting on the grain

Postby W.S.C.beachman » Tue Sep 13, 2011 3:43 am

Cool thanks Dnder,
Not to mention that going from 1.5lbs/gln to 3lbs/gln would be double the money and if you are not getting 2 times the benefit then why bother unless you are trying to get some thing that is a little bit better and want to call it.....Extra Special!!!! LOL
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Re: fermenting on the grain

Postby Dnderhead » Tue Sep 13, 2011 6:38 am

you or at least I can do 3 with out difficulty.after that it starts dropping off,one problom is it will take so much water for the sparg you have a exses.
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Re: fermenting on the grain

Postby W.S.C.beachman » Tue Sep 13, 2011 7:18 pm

Yah I guess their you have it, get a mash tun and brew it like beer, one thing though should we still bother with the boil for 60 min after mashing? Were going to distil it any ways..
More work upfront with a better product in the end...Im there!!!
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Re: fermenting on the grain

Postby Dnderhead » Tue Sep 13, 2011 7:51 pm

I never boil wort.but then I use the "sparg" water to make the next mash so it not diluted.
I was thinking of trying beer that way but I dont know what Id do with all the beer.
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Re: fermenting on the grain

Postby doctee » Tue Nov 08, 2011 1:55 pm

W.S.C.beachman wrote:one thing though should we still bother with the boil for 60 min after mashing? Were going to distil it any ways..


I have never boiled after the mash if stilling and never had a problem. Just pitch a healthy dose of yeast and it should overtake anything else. I do however sanitize my equipment with idophor. After it has fermented out, I have stored it cold for a week or more before stripping and still not had a problem. When making beer, it is a completely different story. The beer has to keep for weeks or months without staling.
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Re: fermenting on the grain

Postby Horse_Shoe » Sun Nov 13, 2011 9:18 pm

Update on the "on the grains ferment." Here's what I did. I fermented a batch of smoked malt barley on the grains. As soon as fermentation stopped I distilled 1/3 of the batch. I have a small pot still, so I have to batch everything. Two days later I fermented the second 1/3 of the batch. Working on the final third of the batch now. Each portion was distilled a couple of days apart. So, the final portion was distilled 5-6 days after the first portion. The results are: the first portion was perfect and smooth. The second portion was good, but was bitter and too grainy. The third portion, which sat on the grains the longest, was pretty harsh and bitter. I ended up filtering that portion with charcoal and recovering the product, yet sacrificing the good grain flavor. This experiment leads me to only one conclusion: I would rather ferment the mash off the grains. Its hard work up front and I really believe that the final product is better, while not having to involve charcoal filtering.


Here's another update: I keep learning the same lessons over and over the hard way. I kept trying to sour mash some local cracked corn. The fermentation on the grain led to bitter, harsh, and turpentine flavored spirit. It couldn't be filtered out. Every time I ferment after straining the grain off the result is the best. DUH. :sarcasm:
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