Author Topic: Fresh malt  (Read 267 times)

Offline troybinso

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Fresh malt
« on: March 06, 2014, 01:58:02 PM »
After piping in on another thread around here about a smoked barleywine, and listening to a recent podcast about smoked beers I got to thinking about barley and malting.

I live in an area where a lot of barley is grown, and as far as I can tell it is only harvested once a year. So if this is true for everywhere then ALL of the barley is harvested in the fall and then stored for the rest of the year. Meaning a beer brewed in the summer will have 9 month old barley versus one brewed in the winter with freshly harvested barley.

Now the question goes to malting. I imagine a malting facility would be working year-round, but I wonder how often certain varieties of malt are made throughout the year. Do some of the big maltsters make enough crystal 120 or smoked malt in one batch to last for a long time?

Not sure if anyone has spent some time around a malting facility, but I guess I am just curious.

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Fresh malt
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2014, 02:09:24 PM »
most barley requires some rest period between harvest and malting as young seeds will not germinate at a high rate. so in fact most barley sits around between 4-12 months before even getting to the malt house.
However, not all barley is harvested at the same time of year. a given field is harvested all at once but there are spring planted varieties that harvest in the fall and winter planted varieties that harvest in the summer. then there are southern hemisphere plantings that switch that around being harvested in the northern spring and winter. so barley is being harvested all the time. the big maltsters are making 100's of tons at a go with whole batches being stewed and/or kilned to various specialty malts.

that being said, the thread on smoked malts is a different thing. malt can be smoked well after it was malted so maltster who wants to keep very fresh smoked malt (i.e. the smoke is fresh) would only smoke small amounts at a time. The base malt is good if stored properly for a very very long time (think years not months) so it's not really an issue like it is for smoked malt. Unmalted barley can also sit for a very long time before germination rates start to fall off so the overall acceptable time from harvest to drinking can be multiple years.

historically malting was a seasonal thing because it was local so most of the barley was harvested at the same time of year and depended heavily on correct atmospheric conditions to work correctly. also historical barley varieties usually required nearly a full 8-12 months age before they would germinate well. breeding has reduced this lag time some.