Author Topic: Malt conditioning rocks!  (Read 8384 times)

Offline nyakavt

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Malt conditioning rocks!
« on: November 10, 2009, 05:45:26 AM »
I brewed a weissbier yesterday with 60% white wheat and had one of the easiest and quickest runoffs ever (batch sparging) with no rice hulls.  The secret was malt conditioning, a technique that Kai brought to my attention on his site.  Prevously I'd always have some wort left behind, or my absorbtion was relatively high (0.6 qts/lb).

I weighed out the entire grist and put it in a pot.  I sprayed water over the top layer, then stirred.  This was repeated until I had put around 80 mL of water on the grain (about 2% by mass).  When I run my hands through the uncrushed grain, a few kernels would stick.  After milling, the grist looked much fluffier than usual, and in the MT it ran off so much faster, even with a 0.025" mill gap.  I say give it a try on your next batch and see if it helps, you can crush finer without the runoff penalties.

One word of caution: if you mill by hand, you may want to use half the water, or try it with an all barley beer first.  Adding that much water made the mill fairly difficult to turn, I really got a workout on this one.  I think part of that was due to the wheat, but also wet grain is quite a bit stickier than dry.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2009, 06:55:31 AM by nyakavt »

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Re: Malt conditioning rocks
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2009, 05:56:22 AM »
Can't see how 1) it is worth the extra work or 2) how it could possibly be good for your grain mill.
Keith Y.
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Offline bluesman

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Re: Malt conditioning rocks
« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2009, 05:59:32 AM »
Are you having any issues with using rice hulls?
Ron Price

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Re: Malt conditioning rocks
« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2009, 06:08:14 AM »
BTW I regularly brew with up to 60% wheat and never have a stuck run off and never use rice hulls. I know that pro-brewers wet mill their malt but it has always concerned me that this could cause rust on the rollers of my mill.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Malt conditioning rocks
« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2009, 06:31:21 AM »
I was one of the lucky ones that got to go to Beer Camp at Sierra Nevada. 

The Pilot Brewer talked about the benefits of conditioning the malt.  He said that at home, you could  do a good job by misting the malt with something like an air brush, turning and misting more.  You really don't want any more water than what the husks will absorb.  This rehydrates the husk, it becomes more flexible, and the mill will then not shatter the husk.  If the rollers are SS, they won't be damaged. 

For a wheat beer the benefit would be due to a more intact barley malt husk, as wheat has no husk. 

Malt conditioning, and the rest of the Beer Camp from what the Homebrers learned, will be covered in an article in an upcoming Zymurgy.
Jeff Rankert
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Offline nyakavt

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Re: Malt conditioning rocks
« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2009, 07:10:18 AM »
Major, I'm not sure why your experience is so much different than mine.  Do you have a wider mill gap, or a different knurl pattern?  I'm using the barley crusher and have had issues pretty much since day one with runoff with a 0.025 mill gap.  It would never get totally stuck, but get extremely slow with standing wort still visible in the tun.  I found the system to be very sensitive to how I vourlaufed, I couldn't pour the wort back on top slow enough.  Since I started conditioning, vourlauf and runoff has been a non-issue.

As for good for the grain mill, I agree that this last one was probably a bit too much based on the amount of force I needed to turn the mill over, and I'll likely back off on the water for future batches.  I haven't seen any rust yet (roughly 12 batches conditioned in 5 months), but the mill does not have stainless rollers so it is a possibility.  Could be that the flour keeps the rollers from staying wet, or the fact that it's only exposed for 10 minutes a week?  The grain isn't dripping with water, it just gets a bit soft.  I'll post an update if the situation changes.

As for rice hulls, the downside for me is the cost.  1/2 lb adds roughly a dollar a beer, so over the year that's another batch I could have brewed, which is important when you're on a budget.  I've only used them once, so I'm no expert, maybe you can get away with less.  They can absorb some wort if not pre soaked, I haven't evaluated if they absorb any additional wort when they hit the mash.

Offline babalu87

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Re: Malt conditioning rocks
« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2009, 07:12:09 AM »
Can't see how 1) it is worth the extra work or 2) how it could possibly be good for your grain mill.

Just try it once

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Offline blatz

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Re: Malt conditioning rocks
« Reply #7 on: November 10, 2009, 07:15:45 AM »
with a 0.025 mill gap.

good lord  :o no wonder you had to use rice hulls. how about backing off on that to alleviate the need.

Maybe conditioning could be beneficial, but I am not sure if the rollers on a BC are stainless?
« Last Edit: November 10, 2009, 07:17:48 AM by blatz »
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Offline bonjour

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Re: Malt conditioning rocks
« Reply #8 on: November 10, 2009, 07:24:30 AM »
Are you making flour  ??? or are you milling to 25 mills which is .025 inch. 
.025 mills would be .000025 inch

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Re: Malt conditioning rocks
« Reply #9 on: November 10, 2009, 07:26:05 AM »
Can't see how 1) it is worth the extra work or 2) how it could possibly be good for your grain mill.

Just try it once



Why? It would probably add an extra 15-30+ minutes to my brew day by having to spray down at least 20 lbs of malt. As it is I try to get the malt ground up as quickly as possible, often measuring out the night before. I certainly don't want to add time to this step. I get 75% efficiency as it is and I just don't feel the extra time or effort would be worth the small amount of increase in efficiency. Plus, as I mentioned, I have absolutely no problems with sparging. Why try to fix what ain't broke? Plus I already have a few discoloration (oxidation/rust) marks on my mill rollers. Nothing to fret about, but I would not want to accelerate that by milling damp malt.

I think it is cool you guys are into tweaking stuff like this, I just don't think it is often practical for my brewing purposes.
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Offline blatz

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Re: Malt conditioning rocks
« Reply #10 on: November 10, 2009, 07:28:41 AM »
I assume he meant .025" which is way, way, way too tight on my BC for my MLT.  

I have it set at .036", get 75-77% efficiency everytime and never use rice hulls.  When I was at .032", I would occasionally get comments of slight tannic flavors on my scoresheets.  I was getting 80% at that point and backed off, and the problem went away...
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Re: Malt conditioning rocks
« Reply #11 on: November 10, 2009, 07:33:42 AM »
I assume he meant .025" which is way, way, way too tight on my BC for my MLT.  

I have it set at .036", get 75-77% efficiency everytime and never use rice hulls.

+1. Again though, not trying to take anything away from your experience. But for me it is way easier to not grind quite as fine, take a slight hit in efficiency loss and save time so that I can relax and HAHB.  :) And, in case I didn;t make it clear enough I brew wheat beers all the time and NEVER use rice hulls.
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Offline nyakavt

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Re: Malt conditioning rocks
« Reply #12 on: November 10, 2009, 08:00:18 AM »
Heh, .025 mill gap, not mil gap.  I meant .025", sorry for the confusion.  The BC only goes down to .020 or so IME.  I chose this gap when I started AG to just keep it constant and dial in the process, not knowing the consequences to lautering.  So yes, using rice hulls would solve it, and backing off on the crush would solve it, but conditioning the malt also solves it.  And I'm ok if major doesn't try it, I'll just shake my fist from over here in his general direction  :P

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Re: Malt conditioning rocks
« Reply #13 on: November 10, 2009, 08:09:50 AM »
I'm glad it works for you. Just out of curiosity how long does it take to properly condition the malt? What size batches do you brew? Just curious. I know on many pro brewer systems the malt is automatically sprayed as it is hopped into the mill so there is no extra step.
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Offline babalu87

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Re: Malt conditioning rocks
« Reply #14 on: November 10, 2009, 08:17:08 AM »
I'm glad it works for you. Just out of curiosity how long does it take to properly condition the malt? What size batches do you brew? Just curious. I know on many pro brewer systems the malt is automatically sprayed as it is hopped into the mill so there is no extra step.

Takes about 10 minutes TOPS  the night before I brew then when I am heating strike water the grist goes to the mill.
As far as damage to the mill , there are enough oils on the grains to keep that from being an issue.

I brew 5 and 10 gallon batches.
Jeff

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