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5 Tips to Get The Most Out of Your Grains (and Better Beer)

Updated: Mar 17, 2022



Here's a couple of tips and techniques around handling grain that have helped us make that jump from good to great.

  1. Fresh is best. Do your best to use grains within their best before date. Your darker / specialty grains are particularly susceptible to aging when stored incorrectly, as their lovely, roasted character will fade over time.

  2. Fresh is best also applies to when the grains are milled. Similar to coffee, pre-milled grains will still taste good and sometimes we gotta make due with what we have... BUT if you're able to treat yourself to a mill and have the time to make everything fresh you will absolutely notice a difference. This affects every style, from Pilsners to IPAs to Stouts. *We're specifically speaking about the difference between grains that have been sitting around for a week or two getting stale in less-than-airtight containers, not just overnight from your local home brew shop. We do our best to ensure our milled grains are as good as they can be for our patrons by only milling them right before shipping and heat-sealing them in thick, oxygen resistant packaging.

  3. How you store your grain matters. Dry environments are best at keeping the grains tasting their freshest. Airtight containers are ideal as this preserves their flavors and helps them last, often well past their best before date. If you are storing whole sacks, stack them horizontally (laying down) as this helps prevent moisture and humidity from getting in and ruining your grains.

  4. How you mill matters - Wet vs Dry. A commercial head brewer from a global company taught us about 'wet milling' (not as wet as the name suggests!) Simply put, before you mill hydrate your grains with a 1.5:100 ratio of water to grain (e.g. 150 ml of water for 10 kg of grain). This can be done with a spray bottle or sprinkling water throughout your grains and mixing thoroughly. Let this sit for 20 minutes You'll know it's ready when the grains have almost a soft 'leathery' feel. Then run it through the mill. *This has made a significant difference in our milling. The husks stay intact and the grains get crushed nicely. It prevents your beer from developing off flavors that occur from husks that are destroyed during milling. An added bonus is we haven't experienced a stuck sparge since we started using this method.

  5. Set your mill gap appropriately. Some maltsters use screens to get consistent grain sizes within their batches, while others can be a bit varied in their bags. To get the best crush, first check to see what mill gap the maltster recommends. Starting with that, mill a small portion and check to ensure you're happy with the crush. You're aiming for an ideal ratio of Husks – 20%; Coarse Grits – 35%; Fine Grits – 35%; and Flour – 10%. This ratio results in great extraction without any worry of a stuck sparge. If you're seeing intact husks and noticeably more coarse grits than fine grits, then decrease your gap to help out with your extraction efficiency. Conversely if you're seeing lots of flour, mainly fine grits, and torn husks then widen the gap. *As an example, here in New Zealand Gladfield uses 2.5mm screens to ensure their barley malt grains are an average >2.8mm and recommends a 1.45mm gap to get that ideal ratio - and our experience is that this is pretty much bang-on when we mill.


* If you're interested in getting your own mill, we do supply pretty much the last mill you'll ever need - the MillMaster Grain Mill by MashMaster (it's also the mill we use). Designed and manufactured in Australia with a fluted, gear driven roller design, this thing is built not only to give you consistent results but to outlast any other piece of home brewing kit you'll buy. We'll also happily preset the gap (e.g. to Gladfield settings) as you'd like.



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