Homebrewers Association | AHA Forum

General Category => All Grain Brewing => Topic started by: phillamb168 on January 15, 2011, 09:41:26 AM

Title: Roasting your own grain
Post by: phillamb168 on January 15, 2011, 09:41:26 AM
There are several posts out there that talk about how to roast your own grain but I didn't see anything here about it yet, so I thought I'd share my experiences today while I roast a few different batches. I'm brewing a chili stout today, but it's a 1-gallon test batch, so I'll only be toasting 75 grams each time.

There's a lot of different times listed for different Lovibond ratings, but after my first batch this morning burned to a crisp I think it's safe to say that for most people, 150 C (300 F) will do the job. To get different L, just roast for different times.

Also, depending on whether or not you soak the grains for 15 minutes before roasting, you can get different flavors. Non-soaked grains will give you more toasty/roasty notes, while soaked grains give more caramel. Supposedly. We'll find out today.

My three different batches:
75 g maris otter, soaked for 15 minutes, roasted @ 150 C for 60 minutes (supposedly L60)
75 g maris otter, no soaking, roasted @ 150 C for 60 minutes (supposedly L120)
50 g flaked oats (not instant, but quick-cook. No soaking, roasted @ 150 C for 30 minutes. Doing this for just a bit of toast.
Title: Re: Roasting your own grain
Post by: phillamb168 on January 15, 2011, 09:51:09 AM
Weighing the grain
(http://gallery.me.com/phillip.lamb/100014/Roasting%20malt%3A%20weighing%20grains/web.jpg?ver=12950845920001)

Spreading it out
(http://gallery.me.com/phillip.lamb/100014/Roasting%20malt%3A%20grain%20spread%20out/web.jpg?ver=12950846450001)

One thing that I noticed with my failed first batch was that, if you're not roasting much malt, you REALLY need to stir that stuff often, like every 3 minutes. Just a quick shake of the pan should do. The problem is, when you don't have a large amount of grain, there's not enough thermal mass to keep everything more or less the same temp (I think), so wherever you have those gaps, you have grain that's getting way more heat than the other grain. I measured with my IR thermometer and found a temp of around 148-149 C on the grain 'clumps' and 165 on the smaller patches of grain off to the sides. That's a huge difference! So, to keep things even, shake it!
Title: Re: Roasting your own grain
Post by: dzlater on January 15, 2011, 12:13:25 PM
Thanks for posting. I will be roasting some grains soon so I am trying to get all the info I can.
You're right about the times and temps being all over the place.
I have one piece of info that says, "Vienna 100c for two hours" and another that says "vienna 105c for three hours"
Also I threw a probe thermometer in the oven yesterday and set it @375f  after it was preheated it ranged from 368 to 390. So I guess this going to take some experimentation.
Title: Re: Roasting your own grain
Post by: EHall on January 15, 2011, 03:32:37 PM
'One thing that I noticed with my failed first batch was that, if you're not roasting much malt, you REALLY need to stir that stuff often, like every 3 minutes. Just a quick shake of the pan should do. The problem is, when you don't have a large amount of grain, there's not enough thermal mass to keep everything more or less the same temp (I think), so wherever you have those gaps, you have grain that's getting way more heat than the other grain.'

When doing a small amount like that, use a smaller pan.
Title: Re: Roasting your own grain
Post by: alikocho on January 15, 2011, 03:36:43 PM
What about resting time? Randy Mosher says two weeks in Radical Brewing, but I wonder if that's really al that necessary.
Title: Re: Roasting your own grain
Post by: phillamb168 on January 15, 2011, 05:27:52 PM
'One thing that I noticed with my failed first batch was that, if you're not roasting much malt, you REALLY need to stir that stuff often, like every 3 minutes. Just a quick shake of the pan should do. The problem is, when you don't have a large amount of grain, there's not enough thermal mass to keep everything more or less the same temp (I think), so wherever you have those gaps, you have grain that's getting way more heat than the other grain.'

When doing a small amount like that, use a smaller pan.

Unfortunately I don't have a smaller oven-safe pan, but yeah, you're exactly right - use the smallest you can that'll give you a single layer of grain.
Title: Re: Roasting your own grain
Post by: phillamb168 on January 15, 2011, 05:29:14 PM
What about resting time? Randy Mosher says two weeks in Radical Brewing, but I wonder if that's really al that necessary.

For the amount of grain I'm using, I'm not going to bother resting. Since it's almost 7pm here I'll probably brew tomorrow, but that's only 24 hours' rest. I think if you're going to use a lot, it makes sense, but I have no idea if it's worth it or not. If this batch works, I'll do a 5-gallon test with no resting period and will see if it makes much of a difference.
Title: Re: Roasting your own grain
Post by: phillamb168 on January 15, 2011, 05:39:03 PM
Here's a side-by-side comparison of unroasted malt (right) compared to 1 hour at 150 C/350 F (left). I unfortunately didn't smell anything delicious like Mosher et al lead you to believe, which is sad, but the taste of the grain on the left compares fairly nicely with some crystal 60 I have in the cave, and I can't detect any weird flavors.

(http://gallery.me.com/phillip.lamb/100014/Roasting%20malt%3A%20after%201%20hour%2C%20with%20soak.%20/web.jpg?ver=12950866470001)

And here's a before-and-after of my roasted oatmeal. Again, I didn't get the delicious "baking oatmeal cookies" smell that was supposed to come from my oven, but that's ok. The color change is interesting to see, and the taste now versus earlier reminds me a bit of roasted peanuts. The non-toasted version doesn't really taste like anything. I'm wondering if I shouldn't toast my oatmeal before I make breakfast in the morning - probably lose out on some nutrients though.

Before:
(http://gallery.me.com/phillip.lamb/100014/Roasting%20malt%3A%20oatmeal%2C%20before/web.jpg?ver=12950866130001)

After:
(http://gallery.me.com/phillip.lamb/100014/Roasting%20malt%3A%20oatmeal%2C%20after/web.jpg?ver=12951128200001)
Title: Re: Roasting your own grain
Post by: tubercle on January 15, 2011, 07:04:29 PM
I use home roasted grains almost exclusively.

 I have found that soaking for an hour or two first and giving a light toast at low (~250f) temp leaves a higher final gravity. This can usually be used "fresh" also without any unusual taste. I guess the moisture gives the grains a good steaming.

 Darker color grains, toasting at a higher temp or toasting dry can leave a little acrid bite so I let them air out for a while - a week or two. I just put them in a quart jar and use a coffee filter for a lid held in place with a rubber band. Real dark or black definitely benifits from this treatment.

 I have a SS half sheet and usually spread the grains about a 1/2" deep - no more -  and give them a good stir every 10 minutes.
Title: Re: Roasting your own grain
Post by: lonnie mac on January 15, 2011, 09:07:02 PM
I have played with roasting in my oven with fair results. It's been quite a while.

I want to try it in my wife's new Behmore 1600 coffee roaster. I am not sure if this will work but I don't see why not. In the video below you can see the thing doing it's job. It's a dang nice roaster! I want to buy my own tumbler basket as I promised her I wouldn't ruin the thing. Anyone see an issue with this?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_hdDx-Ft6o (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_hdDx-Ft6o)
Title: Re: Roasting your own grain
Post by: oscarvan on January 15, 2011, 09:42:01 PM
Oooh, that looks like the PERFECT tool! Want, want! Wait, 'spensive, but it has me thinking...metal screen basket.......rotisserie..gas grill........hmmmmm
Title: Re: Roasting your own grain
Post by: nateo on January 16, 2011, 04:21:54 AM
I've had good results using this method:
http://barleypopmaker.info/2009/12/08/home-roasting-your-malts/

I usually do a 3 hour soak, stew, dry, then roast at 350 for an hour.

For dark grains, I use a 9" cast iron skillet over medium heat, and a whisk, and stir for about an hour. I can get a nice, very uniform chocolate malt that way. I read about roasting coffee beans that way, and it works better than the oven method for dark grains, for me at least.
Title: Re: Roasting your own grain
Post by: dzlater on January 16, 2011, 12:04:46 PM
When I get my sack of grain from the local group buy
here is what I've laid out for my first try:

"victory 25L "  300F 25 min

"munich 10L" 250F 20min

"chocolate 175L" 400F 1 hour

"crystal 40L" following this procedure from http://barleypopmaker.info/2009/12/08/home-roasting-your-malts/ (http://barleypopmaker.info/2009/12/08/home-roasting-your-malts/)

For Crystal/Caramel Malt soak 1-2 lbs of pale 2 row in just enough water to cover plus about an inch (make sure you use distilled, filtered tap, or spring water). Let soak for a few hours, but no less than 2 hours and no more than 24, I soak for 3 hours. Then Put grains into a pan and keep grains about 2″ deep then place into a preheated 180 degree oven (make sure you have a probe thermometer in the oven and not to let the temps inside the stewing grain to go above 160. If they do reduce your ovens temperature) for 1 1/2 hours. Then spread out grain into 2 separate pans and make sure the grains are no more than 1″ deep. Then increase temperature in over to 250 and let bake for 2 hours or until dry. Then if desired remove from oven for light crystal, or use the roasting guide above to create your own darker versions of crystal malt. Personally I like the 350 degrees for 45 minutes for a sweet roasty crystal malt. Experiment with 1lb batches and see what you like. I find that 1.5lbs is perfect, 2lbs seems to take way to long to dry.
Title: Re: Roasting your own grain
Post by: phillamb168 on January 17, 2011, 09:52:27 AM
Another thing to try, in Designing Great Beers (I think?) he talks about doing your own kilning by putting the grain in pillowcases and then putting them in the dryer for a while. I don't have a dryer, so I can't try it, but has anyone else done this? Did the rest of your clothes smell like CaraPils for a few weeks?
Title: Re: Roasting your own grain
Post by: akr71 on January 17, 2011, 02:49:27 PM
Another thing to try, in Designing Great Beers (I think?) he talks about doing your own kilning by putting the grain in pillowcases and then putting them in the dryer for a while. I don't have a dryer, so I can't try it, but has anyone else done this? Did the rest of your clothes smell like CaraPils for a few weeks?

I've heard this too, but haven't dared try.  My couch just isn't that comfortable  ;)  I've also heard of this as method for drying hops - whether it works or not, it would be awesome to fall asleep on that pillow case afterwards.
Title: Re: Roasting your own grain
Post by: tygo on January 17, 2011, 05:10:39 PM
I think Charlie P talks about the pillow case technique in one of his books as well.
Title: Re: Roasting your own grain
Post by: EHall on January 17, 2011, 09:32:02 PM
I've read in the past that after roasting oats you should let them 'air out' for at least a week... something about giving some not so nice flavors to the beer... I'll have to see if I can find it again.
Title: Re: Roasting your own grain
Post by: tygo on January 17, 2011, 11:40:35 PM
Not specifically with regard to oats but Palmer talks about letting home roasted grains sit in a paper bag for two weeks to "allow time for the harsher aromatics to escape."  It's on p. 246 of How to Brew.
Title: Re: Roasting your own grain
Post by: oscarvan on January 18, 2011, 01:30:45 AM
Hmmm, roasting in the dryer. Well, I have speed marinated meat in the dryer..... so why not.  ;D
Title: Re: Roasting your own grain
Post by: phillamb168 on January 18, 2011, 09:04:00 AM
Hmmm, roasting in the dryer. Well, I have speed marinated meat in the dryer..... so why not.  ;D

Whaaaaa?
Title: Re: Roasting your own grain
Post by: oscarvan on January 18, 2011, 01:34:25 PM
LOL..... I knew I would get someone's attention with that statement. Marinating meat, for on the grill. In a bag with your favorite juice in the fridge for 12+ hours works, unless the dinner plans get created at two in the afternoon for that evening. Google "marinating" and "rock tumbler" together and you'll see what I'm talking about. But, if you don't have a rock tumbler you put your meat and juice in two or three heavy freezer bags with a crap load of rubber bandies or duct tape around it and put it in the dryer on "vent" (as in no heat) for a half hour or so and the marinade gets beaten at least a quarter inch into the meat, plus things seem to tenderize somewhat...... According to my "taste testers" it works like a charm.

Sorry about the high jack..... ;)
Title: Re: Roasting your own grain
Post by: phillamb168 on January 18, 2011, 02:03:05 PM
LOL..... I knew I would get someone's attention with that statement. Marinating meat, for on the grill. In a bag with your favorite juice in the fridge for 12+ hours works, unless the dinner plans get created at two in the afternoon for that evening. Google "marinating" and "rock tumbler" together and you'll see what I'm talking about. But, if you don't have a rock tumbler you put your meat and juice in two or three heavy freezer bags with a crap load of rubber bandies or duct tape around it and put it in the dryer on "vent" (as in no heat) for a half hour or so and the marinade gets beaten at least a quarter inch into the meat, plus things seem to tenderize somewhat...... According to my "taste testers" it works like a charm.

Sorry about the high jack..... ;)

That's super neat! Thanks for the tip. Now I can tell my wife we can get a dryer!
Title: Re: Roasting your own grain
Post by: dzlater on February 07, 2011, 12:28:15 PM
Did my roasting experiment the other day. It worked out OK.
Toasting the malt to a low lovibond was easy.
When doing the darker roast it was hard to get them to an even color.
The crystal worked out real nice, took a long time but they smelled and tasted really good.
I was aiming for a C40 but I think I overshot that.
Brewed with it yesterday wort tasted really nice.
Here is pic of the crystal, I am guessing 100L?

(https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/_lgqS2KPnbZM/TU_ibPMnfSI/AAAAAAAAAxc/p55oqy92TBw/s128/IMG_0023.JPG)
Title: Re: Roasting your own grain
Post by: phillamb168 on February 07, 2011, 01:00:40 PM
Ah, thanks for the reminder about this thread. I just popped open a bottle yesterday of the stout that I did with the home-roasted grains. I was concerned about not letting them sit in the paper bag for a while to get rid of weird harsh flavors, but the concern was unfounded - the beer tastes great! I added some chocolate powder and a chipotle chili to the secondary and the nose is FULL of cocoa, it's so neat!

moral of the story: if you're only roasting light-to-medium, in my experience you don't need to worry about "aging" it post-roast.