Thursday, July 2, 2009

Second brew attempt with homemade malt

So now that I have my own nifty, homemade grain mill and my own awesome homemade malted barley, I feel pretty cool. The day after I finished the mill, I took my second batch of malt (about 10 pounds) and crushed it. The next day I didn't have to work until the afternoon, so I got up early and began my second attempt at brewing with the homemade malt. I felt very confident now that I had crushed my grains properly, and I can't even begin to describe how unbelievable they smelled after milling. So sweet, so delicious, almost like chocolate and coffee!

I performed a similar session as last time, using a double decoction. I also tried boiling a bit longer. In the end, however, my gravity came out at 1.026 - still very low, but a major improvement over my first attempt. Unfazed, I simply added some pasteurized honey and pitched my yeast - I can see now that this is going to be the biggest challenge I have faced since I started brewing.

So I went back to the internet and began searching for more information, trying to discover what else I could do differently. I ended up finding out a few more things about home malting. First, you always have to use at least 30% more grain to achieve the desired results. Apparently, homemade malt will never have the same potential as factory made. Second, it is recommended that you employ a very long protein rest, and also an extra long sacharification rest - most of the information I found said at least 45 minutes at 122 degrees, then at least 90 minutes at 150 (keep your sacharification temp as low as possible). And lastly, boil longer (like 90 minutes) to reduce dimethyl sulfide flavor (tastes like cooked vegetables or shellfish/ seafood), and aid in sedimentation. I guess homemade malt produces a lot more sediment and is harder to clear. I believe this is true because just the other day I transferred my first homemalted disaster to the secondary, and it looked very hazy. I added some polyclar to try and aid in clarification - I am definitely very curious about this weird concoction and how it will look and taste.

So now I have 4 more pounds of barley remaining. Next week I am planning on malting it, and this time I would like to try letting it sprout just a bit longer than I did with my first two batches. Maybe I can get some more sugars out of it and improve my efficiency that way as well? I was planning on smoking the last of my barley, but considering how much I have been struggling to make this process work, I think I will just stick to the basic plan again and shoot for better results.

Also, I just wanted to mention that the whole mashing process that I have been using to make my crystal malt is not necessary! Apparently you can accomplish the same thing just by putting it in the oven and adjusting the temperature properly for the desired time, then kicking it up to caramelization temps.

And so the adventure continues, challenging but ultimately very rewarding. I love it!

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