Trouble malting barley

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Re: Trouble malting barley

Postby Michaeln416 » Sat Nov 09, 2013 9:14 am

I just got home from a trip to the farmer's co-op down the street. That test bag of whole barley that I bought a few weeks ago worked so well that I decided to stock up and malt, dry and roast it all gradually throughout the long cold winter. That will give me plenty of malt to brew my AG with next spring and fall, yet keep me occupied with this hobby while it's too cold to be running the still. 275 lbs for $50; try and beat that!
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Re: Trouble malting barley

Postby woodshed » Sat Nov 09, 2013 5:28 pm

Sounds like a great deal and a great plan. That Canadian barley is fine stuff. Maybe I missed it but 2 row? I have malted my own barley but prefer the consistency I get from a supplier over the pass from me. I get a good price and support a local business. Not as good as your price but less time for me.
I do malt my own corn. The only way I have found to get what I want with the final product.
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Re: Trouble malting barley

Postby Michaeln416 » Sun Nov 10, 2013 7:30 pm

Edited for accuracy (and because its a funny story)

Yes, mostly 2-row; probably.

They didn't know the answer to that when I asked at the co-op where I bought it; no clue whatsoever. The label on the bag didn't tell me either, but it did list the feed supplier's name, phone number and the LOT#. I called and they put me through to their buyer who did all of the purchasing for that batch. He had no clue. In fact, he didn't even know that there was such a thing as two-row and six-row. Can you believe it?! The best he could offer was that it was most likely a mixture of the two, since his only requirement while purchasing it was that it be barley.

The best answer that I received so far came from another customer of that co-op who told me that the majority of the barley grown around here is two-row. Since he was the first person that I have spoken with that knew the difference between 2/6-row barley and because he said it with such confidence, I accepted his answer as authoritative. But really, I have no clue what I have here. All I know is that its working and it tastes great. Next year I'll try to buy directly from a local farmer and will specify 2-row.

You are absolutely right that DIY home-malt doesn't have anywhere near the consistency of the brew-store malts. However, I'm hoping that I can take advantage of that inconsistency to add some extra character in the end product. Certainly I will lose efficiency, but at this price I don't mind accommodating by increasing the grain bill by 10 or even 20%.
Having fun and great success sprouting/roasting/smoking my own malted barley
I brew in 50L batches using local natural spring water and fresh baker's yeast
8 Gallon SS Reflux Still for neutral & 20 Gallon Copper Pot Still for everything else
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Re: Trouble malting barley

Postby Michaeln416 » Wed Nov 13, 2013 9:46 am

So far this is working well for me; gradually malting and drying feed-store barley at home in the late autumn and early winter.
I'm not wasting any fuel, as I need it to heat the house anyway. Even the moisture coming off is appreciated.
Of course you do notice the aroma somewhat, but I mask that by opening the door on the stove and letting out a little bit of smoke into the room from time to time. My wife loves the comfort of a fire and never complains about the smell of smoke. :-)

I keep the wet, freshly malted stuff spread out on a table in the garage passively air drying where it loses at least 50-60% of its excess moisture. Then each day I bring in about one or two freezer bags full to finish drying and to get very lightly roasted on top of the wood stove.

When the spring weather finally comes around I hope to have accumulated more than enough malt to meet my brewing needs until next winter.

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Having fun and great success sprouting/roasting/smoking my own malted barley
I brew in 50L batches using local natural spring water and fresh baker's yeast
8 Gallon SS Reflux Still for neutral & 20 Gallon Copper Pot Still for everything else
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Re: Trouble malting barley

Postby Prairiepiss » Wed Nov 13, 2013 10:05 am

Are you making sure not to get it to hot? So the enzymes aren't killed off? Max temp is what 125 f? If I remember correctly? I can see the bottom of that pan getting pretty hot. It mite be fine for a roasted malt. But roasted malt is only good for flavor and a small amount of starches. Since the enzymes are killed off.

If it were me. I would have them on some sort of rack. Holding them up off the stove. With maybe a small fan blowing across them.
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Re: Trouble malting barley

Postby Michaeln416 » Wed Nov 13, 2013 11:35 am

That is almost exactly what's happening here due to the design of the stove. There is a thermostat controlled circulating fan on the back that blows cool air between the actual top of the stove and the 'decorative' top that the roasting pan is sitting on. It's meant as a safety feature, but also works well for these purposes. I adjust the fire and the blower such that the surface temperature stays in the range of 130-140F. Even at a surface temperature of 140F the barley never gets over 100F as it's exposed to the room temperature. Every time I pass by I give it a stir and quickly check its temperature. I too was expecting it to get hotter than that.

Also, since I mash with 100% barley malt for my whiskey, I wouldn't mind if I lost as much as 50% of the enzymes since that is still more than enough required for conversion.

I do like your idea of using the rack for when it gets even colder outside and I need to make the fire even hotter.
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Re: Trouble malting barley

Postby Prairiepiss » Wed Nov 13, 2013 11:53 am

Cool. Sounds like a nice stove.

If you got or built the right rack. You could have more tiers. Of thinner pans. So they would dry faster. Just rotate them. Up and down as needed. I bought a bunch of pans that have holes drilled in them. The holes are like 3/8". I lay window screen over them. And pile the grains on top. It allows for a little more air exposure. In my home made dehydrator. But I like the idea of using the stove. And will have to keep that in mind when I het mine in and going. It's not as fancy as yours. But I'm sure I can come up with something.
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Re: Trouble malting barley

Postby Michaeln416 » Wed Nov 13, 2013 1:23 pm

PP, I love your idea of the stacking pans with the drilled holes for flow-through ventilation. But I'm playing a balancing act here to not let this become so intrusive into our home that it tests the limits of my wife's patience. She's completely accepting of whatever I want to do out in the garage and outside behind the shed. However, when it enters our living space I know that I'm skating on thin ice.
So, while your idea is perfect, it may backfire on me.

My plans for next year include building an outdoor wind powered malt dryer. Picture your stacked drilled tray idea inside something like a smoker cabinet. But on top I have one of those 'Whirlybird' roof vents that creates a bit of a vacuum and draws air from below. Like this one:

Image

On dry windy days I can just let the whirlybird do its thing and air-dry the malt. For flavour I can put some hardwood charcoal and something to create smoke down in the bottom chamber.

I'm not sure what kind of draw one of those vents will create; as that will determine how many trays deep I can make this. I was thinking about stacking the trays so that there was an air gap alternating from side to side allowing the rising air to zig-zag it's way from the bottom to the top. It should flow faster and smoother, passing both under and over each layer.


( ( ( ( () ) ) ) ) < < < < {Whirlybird vent}
____(((_)))____
|________ . . |
| . . ________|
|________ . . | < < < < {zig-zag staggered drying trays}
| . . ________|
|________ . . |
| . . ________|
| - - - - - - |
| - - - - - - | < < < < {charcoal & smoke chamber}
| - - - - - - |


It's still an idea in its very early stages, partially inspired by the spare Whirlybird vent that I found in my garage. I'm going to ponder it for a while, perhaps in front of my fire while sipping some "nuclear" aged whiskey from my last spirit run. :D
Having fun and great success sprouting/roasting/smoking my own malted barley
I brew in 50L batches using local natural spring water and fresh baker's yeast
8 Gallon SS Reflux Still for neutral & 20 Gallon Copper Pot Still for everything else
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Re: Trouble malting barley

Postby Prairiepiss » Wed Nov 13, 2013 2:22 pm

I like the vent idea.

I stack my trays stagared like that. In my make shift dehydrator. It's a big foam box I had laying around. I cut holes at the top on one side and bottom on the other. I have a two light bulb fixture in the bottom for heat. Different wattage bulbs for different temps. It sits on a pan with a deep pan over it. To block the light. And I have a fan I sit inside the lower vents. To pull air in and blow across the bulb heater. I used clothes hangers straightened out for the racks to hold the trays. Just stuck them through the foam walls. Have a meet thermo stuck through the front door foam. Funny looking but works great.
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Re: Trouble malting barley

Postby woodshed » Wed Nov 13, 2013 5:06 pm

These are a couple of my trays. I malt and dry in them as I mostly dry in the smoker.
In the summer I dry outside on a rack in the sun for a day or two then into the smoker. Our humidity here is very low. We are located right where the high desert meets the mountains. In the winter I put them directly in line of the shop heater again for a couple of days then smoker. Trays are made from cull 2x2s from the local lumber yard and screen. Trays are 2x4 ft. Works great and can fit 100 lbs in the smoker at a time. 10 lbs per tray so the bed is thin.
2013-04-27 17.17.04 (640x480).jpg
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Re: Trouble malting barley

Postby scout » Thu Dec 12, 2013 11:34 am

Some very sweet ideas on drying setups guys, I will have to give those a tryout. I malt in gunny sacks, barley sets in the stream for one day, corn for three. then I just pull them out and set them in the barn, laid on an old door/table. Turn the sacks twice a day, then I use old screen doors set on saw horses to pour the malting grain on, spread it out about an inch thick. If it hasn't got good tails (sprouts) I can wet it down and keep an eye on it. For drying I just leave it on the screen doors and turn it once a day with an old scraper I keep just for that, opening the barn doors lets plenty of air through for drying. If I'm making a scotch I smoke about one five gal pail of barley malt in my cold smoker ( I use oak or hickory and on occasion I will use peat, other wise its just wait till bone dry, crush and place in gal. zip baggies stored in an old pie safe till needed.
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Re: Trouble malting barley

Postby Ga_goat » Tue Dec 17, 2013 5:18 pm

Reading about the drier ideas / plans ,, I think I'll build something similar to a chicken egg hatcher I had last year
38" tall 20 inches deep . and 18 inches wide with cleats on the sides and 1" deep trays with 1/8 hardware cloth bottoms
put the cleats about 1.5 inches apart at the top is a fan I used an old bathroom vent fan at the top blowing through a heat wire controlled by a wafer thermostat like is in a incubator I am going to put about 10 trays 18x18 inches deep about ½ full of malt with forced heated ventalation . should be able to dry maby 50/60 pounds at a time and control the temp to within ¼
of a degree ,, will try to post pics in stages when build starts ,,, sold my old hatcher last year ,,, darn!!! now I have another use for 1
UPDATE -- I just went and bought my old hatcher back paid him the same thing , that I sold it to him for , saved time something we don't have but once .
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Re: Trouble malting barley

Postby jsvaughn21 » Tue Jun 10, 2014 2:41 pm

When drying can you use a dehydrator and once drying what do you n3ed to boil it at?
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Re: Trouble malting barley

Postby Soulshine » Sun Feb 05, 2017 1:04 pm

to Michaeln416...
I happen to have an associates degree in horticulture. If you want to know what your feed barley is as far as 2/6 row , my suggestion would be to get a hold of an Ag dept head at the nearest extension service or local college . Ask if they are equipped do a genetics study on it ( the class could even make a project of it) They should be able to crack your genetics and tell what that feed consists of as far as 1) pure single variety or 2)a blend of the two. Meaning- they can tell you what percentage of that blend is 2 row as opposed to 6 row and you can make your own adjustments from that information. You would most likely need to supply them with a small amount ,maybe a pound.
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Re: Trouble malting barley

Postby Soulshine » Sun Feb 05, 2017 1:14 pm

Ga_goat...I feel I can help your dryer idea since I have experience with my home grown tobacco processing. I built myself a kiln ,and fairly cheaply . My kiln is 4 ft x 4 ft x 2 ft deep with a front opening door held closed tightly by draw hasps. Built from 1/2 inch plywood (not press board) and insulated with 1 inch foil faced foam. Powered/heated by either a crockpot or a cheap electric roaster with rheostat to control temperature, air is moved with 3 small computer fans on constant. Also you'd need to buy a small digital controller found cheaply on ebay for $15. comes with a temperature probe that I hang in through the top ,run the output of the controller to the heat source at a simple electrical box . When I kiln my tobacco I keep it at 120*F (for a month straight), anything moist sustained under 118 invites mold quickly. I was very happy to find that while drying malted barley it needed the same requirements as tobacco . Hope my information helps .
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Re: Trouble malting barley

Postby bitter » Sun Feb 05, 2017 1:28 pm

I have been malting mostly wheat, but I found 2 soaks of 8 hours. After the soaks keep in a rubbermaid and keep moist.. Wheat took about 4 days till was ready to drying after the 2 days of soaking.

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Re: Trouble malting barley

Postby Soulshine » Sun Feb 19, 2017 4:38 am

I'm malting another batch. I bought another bag of Bob's Red Mill organic barley. Found a sealing plastic container about twice the depth of the loose barley. Filled it with cool filtered water and let it sit overnight in the cold garage. Drained it the next morning (back in the garage), waited 8 hours and re-filled it (back in the garage). I've been filling, draining like this since Tuesday. Today is Sunday and the chit rate is nearly 100%.
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