Re: 100% homegrown

Tue Jul 31, 2012 5:22 am

Awesome! This is such an awesome project and thread.

and I don't go after any heads on short late tillers.


I wonder if there might be a greater proportion of underdeveloped grains on these ones anyway? Let's just assume they are, so you are even more justified in leaving them. :D

This is what commercial maltsters do, but I have since stopped doing it.


Were you doing the bubbling over 24 hrs on the first batch that you ended up dumping?
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Re: 100% homegrown

Fri Aug 03, 2012 6:18 pm

spiderwrangler wrote:I wonder if there might be a greater proportion of underdeveloped grains on these ones anyway? Let's just assume they are, so you are even more justified in leaving them. :D

Yes, you're right! I don't have any screens to estimate what my % plump is anyway, so forgetting about the half-filled grains on some of the shorter tillers is just good practice for now.
spiderwrangler wrote:Were you doing the bubbling over 24 hrs on the first batch that you ended up dumping?

Yes, it was about 60 hours of soaking with aeration. I would stir the grains in the bucket twice a day to make sure there weren't any grains stuck in the corners where bubbles may not be getting. But it wasn't good enough. I think this was a case of foolishly trying to copy commercial operations when there's a perfectly good low-tech way to get the same thing done.
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Re: 100% homegrown

Fri Aug 03, 2012 6:30 pm

Yeah, I don't think you'd be able to get the bubbling to hit everything in the vessel, not without some sort of diffusion plate across the whole bottom to keep it even. Glad you found a better way of getting it done! Looking forward to the crystal kilning update!
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Re: 100% homegrown

Tue Aug 07, 2012 6:11 pm

Wow, this is so much more than I ever would want to do, but what a great project and an excellent post. I do a lot of home roasting and this way beyond that. But kudos to you for going that extra 5 miles. I enjoyed reading your process.
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Re: 100% homegrown

Tue Aug 07, 2012 6:48 pm

barleypopmaker wrote:Wow, this is so much more than I ever would want to do, but what a great project and an excellent post. I do a lot of home roasting and this way beyond that. But kudos to you for going that extra 5 miles. I enjoyed reading your process.


Thank you for the kind words!!!

You know, I bet when people were just figuring out how to brew at home in the 60's and 70's, it took them a ton of work to do it the first time. But now that we have shops to sell us equipment and internet radio shows to tell us how to do it -- it's no big deal. I bet if you tried to do some home-growing or some home-malting, it would take you a lot less work than it took me. And you would probably figure out all sorts of ways to make it even easier for yourself. If you do, please share them here!

BTW, you will actually find people who will discourage you from malting! I find this so hard to understand -- clearly not many people have tried to malt at home, or there would be more information available. So these are guys who have never even tried to do it telling us that malting will be too difficult and a waste of our time! And all this from a community of people who are already perfectly comfortable with the idea of spending 6 hours + 2 weeks to make a beer instead of rolling down to the corner store to buy one. I would really like to understand what goes through the head of a brewer when they discourage another brewer from malting. The thought process is unfathomable to me.

As far as the growing, it was harder than malting for sure, but it would be much easier at a smaller scale. Most people interested will want to plant much less area, anyway. You can grow enough for a batch of beer with something like 250 square feet. Now that's at the backyard scale. One homegrown batch of beer per year would probably be a worthwhile goal for a lot of hobbyists, including myself! I think I would want to either grow at a smaller scale and stay all-manual, or go up to a larger field and guarantee the use of some mechanized harvesting and threshing equipment. The middle way in this case (sorry Buddha), is crap.

But back to malting -- anybody with a plastic garbage bag and a bedroom floor can malt. You need zero extra equipment. Okay, fine, it is helpful to have a 5-gal plastic bucket and a paint strainer-style grain bag. You'll also need a baking dish and some plastic tarp like a big garbage bag -- things you probably already have. Skip the LHBS (sorry MoreBeer!) and just go to the hardware store. $15 later you can be malting!
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Re: 100% homegrown

Tue Aug 07, 2012 6:49 pm

Just dropped off 66 lbs of caramel malt, probably 60-75L, at Hermitage brewery in San Jose!

I walked in, and one of the Hermitage brewers said, "Is that it?"

Haha, yep, that's it:

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Here are the last few steps leading up to the finished product:

A few days ago, I realized that the finished malt was not drying fast enough. It wouldn't actually be ready to be milled by today at the rate it was going. I had the malt stored in paper sacks in a dehumidified warm room kept at 105F. So to speed up drying, I ripped open the bags that still contained damp malt, and laid the grains out flat:

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That did the trick, and everything was nice and crispy today.

Still, the grains were not rock hard, as my caramel malt usually is. They really could have spent another day or two drying before I would consider them to be shelf-stable. But it hardly matters since they'll be used tomorrow.

The next step is to separate the dry malt from the rootlets that formed during germination. These are called culms, and you can knock them off of dry malt by just stirring the malt in a bucket:

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You don't need to use your clothes dryer or any mechanical means to knock off the culms unless the malt is much wetter.

Finally, do one last winnowing step in front of a box fan. You'll end up with a pile of a small amount of chaff and a whole lot of rootlets:

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That's it -- from dirt to malt:

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I'll try to take some good pics at the brewday tomorrow for Almanac's all-California beer, called Fresh Hop.
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Re: 100% homegrown

Wed Aug 08, 2012 7:32 pm

Today was brewday! Luckily, there were two skilled brewers on hand from Hermitage / Tied House Brewery to take care of this 25 barrel mash tun:

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and boil kettle:

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We mashed in, and I was sure I could see my little caramel grains in there somewhere:

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Maybe those small dark dots?

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Hmm, maybe not.

But there they are!

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Because the grains were still not bone dry when they went through the mill, most of them were not broken into pieces, but still broken open:

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Some were not broken at all:

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This could just be due to the mill, but I bet these grains would be below the plump cutoff if I had run them over a screen.

This was fun!

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and the brewers were more than happy to let an enthusiastic home brewer rake out the mash tun. Anything is fun the first time, right?


Jesse Friedman from Almanac showed up with 80 lbs. of Cascade, Chinook, Ivanhoe, and Gargoyle (Gargoyle???) that were picked THIS MORNING in Lake County.

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The Ivanhoe is a modern-day mimic of Cluster, and has a subdued aroma as you'd expect with American-type resiny and hop oil aromas. The Gargoyle on the other hand had a fruity grape-like aroma. It was really fantastic!

They promptly found their way, tags and all, into the mash tun, which was to be used as a hopback:

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Meanwhile, in the boil kettle, this happened:

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a scaled-up version of the meringue-like stuff you see right before your kettle boils, which lead to this:

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I realize it's a bit tough to asses the color without a clear glass and some sense of scale, but let me tell you -- it was darker and more golden orange than you would expect from base malts alone. Even at 4-5% of the grist, I see the field in there!

From this point on, it's in the very capable hands of Peter and Greg, two brewers with Hermitage. Can't wait to taste it!

Now, on to that other goal: 100% homegrown
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Re: 100% homegrown

Thu Aug 09, 2012 8:02 am

Great post I look forward to trying the beer, and it inspired me to plant hops this year. Congrats
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