Author Topic: Grain mill: Yea or Nea?  (Read 283 times)

Offline Semper Sitientem

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Grain mill: Yea or Nea?
« on: May 21, 2020, 07:30:59 AM »
I’ve been contemplating milling my own grain, but have only read the pros and cons online and don’t personally know anyone that does it to get their opinion. I buy grain at my LHBS which is milled at purchase. I normally use it within a few days, but in some cases a few weeks, so I don’t feel freshness is an issue. However, I have read that as a BIAB brewer I can achieve greater efficiency with a smaller crush if I did it on my own vs. what my LHBS crushes at. Any opinions? I want to avoid buying a piece of equipment that potentially will get used a few times then shelved.
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Online erockrph

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Re: Grain mill: Yea or Nea?
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2020, 07:50:00 AM »
Are you having problems with your brews? There's nothing wrong with a lower efficiency if it's consistent and you can adjust your recipes around it. I wouldn't start milling my own grain if the only reason was to get a few percentage better efficiency. That's spending money and time trying to fix a problem that you don't have.

I started milling my own grain because I buy from several different online shops and LHBS and was having problems hitting consistent efficiency numbers. Different mills lead to different results. Sometimes I'd be in the 60's and sometimes close to 80% efficiency on similar recipes depending on who milled my grain. Milling my own grain gave me control and led to consistent, dependable results. I also started buying unmilled grain in larger amounts, and I now keep enough on the shelf to brew my usual recipes whenever I find the time without the need for a trip to a shop or waiting for an online order.
Eric B.

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Offline Slowbrew

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Re: Grain mill: Yea or Nea?
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2020, 11:05:31 AM »
I wanted to start buying bulk grain for a couple of reasons.  Cost and convenience being the two main ones.  To do that I needed a mill.
I really like being able mix up a batch from my inventory whenever I feel like it.

I also wasn't getting consistent crush from my LHBS at the time so it killed two birds with one stone.

Plus it gave a new list of projects like building a grain mill table, motorizing it and redoing the build a couple of times to make it exactly what I wanted.  Design/build is part of the fun for me.

Paul
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Offline kramerog

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Re: Grain mill: Yea or Nea?
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2020, 01:46:01 PM »
What do you do with your spent grains?  If you want to use it as a mulch in your yard then having high efficiency is important because left over starch will start fermenting attracting hornets.

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Re: Grain mill: Yea or Nea?
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2020, 02:03:30 PM »
Why not ask your LHBS to crush finer if that's the main purpose for getting a mill?
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Offline dannyjed

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Re: Grain mill: Yea or Nea?
« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2020, 02:26:52 PM »
Like others have stated, if you want to buy full sacks of grain then you will want to buy a mill. If that doesn't concern you, then you can always ask your LHBS to run the grain through the mill twice if they don't want to adjust it.
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Offline BrewBama

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Grain mill: Yea or Nea?
« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2020, 03:03:20 PM »
For me, grind consistency is simply another control point in a repeatable process. If your LHBS is willing to close the gap: problem solved. 

...but even if they’re not willing to close the gap (I understand many won’t), as long as their gap is set the same every time you buy from them it’s a known constant. Again: problem solved.

However, the real issue is how well stocked is your LHBS?  As pointed out above, the real problem arises when the local doesn’t have what you want so you have to buy elsewhere which may mean a different mill gap. I have this issue. My LHBS is unreliable. It’s actually a health food store with some home brew stuff.

Another issue could be from using a different grain, a different sack of the same grain, or from using different malsters. UK malsters use grain varieties from the UK, German malsters use Continental grain varieties, US malsters.... you get the idea. Each barley variety can be different which could require a different mill gap.  Likewise, wheat, rye, oats, etc., may require a different gap. (My goal, for my system, using my processes, is 70% remaining on a No 14 sieve)

Having your own mill allows the freedom to buy from any LHBS, from different malsters, use different grains, etc., and still have a constant control point.


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« Last Edit: May 21, 2020, 03:11:20 PM by BrewBama »
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Offline Slowbrew

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Re: Grain mill: Yea or Nea?
« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2020, 04:43:36 PM »
What do you do with your spent grains?  If you want to use it as a mulch in your yard then having high efficiency is important because left over starch will start fermenting attracting hornets.

I generally broadcast spread them on the backyard.  No piles if I can help it.  At the end the mash I put them in a bucket and take them out back.  I use my SS brewing spoon to spread them across the yard (think throwing a spoonful into the air at reasonable high speed).  They just disappear into the yard in a week or two.  What piles I do get seem to be eaten by squirrels, rabbit, deer or who knows what is back there.  One up side is the grass is doing great back there.

Paul
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Online erockrph

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Re: Grain mill: Yea or Nea?
« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2020, 04:55:24 PM »
What do you do with your spent grains?  If you want to use it as a mulch in your yard then having high efficiency is important because left over starch will start fermenting attracting hornets.
My chickens and ducks make short work of it.
Eric B.

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Online denny

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Re: Grain mill: Yea or Nea?
« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2020, 05:06:34 PM »
What do you do with your spent grains?  If you want to use it as a mulch in your yard then having high efficiency is important because left over starch will start fermenting attracting hornets.
My chickens and ducks make short work of it.

Pretty much the same here...chickens and deer
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

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Offline Semper Sitientem

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Re: Grain mill: Yea or Nea?
« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2020, 07:02:17 PM »
Thanks for the responses. Lots of good insight. I’m lucky that my LHBS is solid and I’ve always been able to get everything I need. My beers have also been good to great so I guess I should fix what’s not broken. I was also interested in reading what others are doing with their brewer’s waste. Until recently I was tossing them. Spreading them in the yard/garden isn’t an option in Georgia because we have a bad roof rat problem. However, I just located a farm nearby that will take them for their animals.
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Offline EnkAMania

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Re: Grain mill: Yea or Nea?
« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2020, 07:29:24 PM »
If you can afford it, I say go for it.
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Re: Grain mill: Yea or Nea?
« Reply #12 on: May 22, 2020, 04:31:28 PM »
If you can afford it, I say go for it.

+1. My efficiency jumped up 8 points and became a lot more consistent when I started milling my own grain
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Offline ravenwater

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Re: Grain mill: Yea or Nea?
« Reply #13 on: May 22, 2020, 07:18:53 PM »
I like being able to mill my own grain and control the consistency of the grind, also adjusting the mill gap here and there for specific malts. I too started buying larger quantities of grains to have specific base grains on hand when I want to formulate a recipe with them so can mill them on an as-needed basis and have them fresh ground. I don't really sweat mash efficiency but with milling my own I've come to be able to predict my efficiencies, which is helpful when formulating recipes in the brew software.
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