Author Topic: Home smoked malt  (Read 4622 times)

Offline gmac

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Home smoked malt
« on: October 17, 2011, 02:26:30 PM »
Yesterday I was cooking on my smoker and I took the opportunity to smoke some malt.  
I had about 4 lbs of Maris Otter left from a 55 lb sack and I smoked it for about 3 hours over apple chips at about 250 degrees.  I wet the malt first thinking I'd read somewhere that this would help the malt absorb the smoke.  I was hoping that the malt would colour more from the heat and approach something akin to brown malt but it must not have been hot enough.  The interior of the grain is still white so I think it stayed about the same SRM or close to it.

Today the malt is mellowing in a cardboard box but when I smell it, the smokiness is very subtle.  My intent was to make a smoked porter with this but I'm worried that the smoke flavour could be lost if I use a lot of chocolate and dark crystal malts.  I don't intend to use roasted barley.

What are your thoughts on this?  Is normal smoked malt fairly pungent or is it subtle?  Are there other styles you'd suggest I try instead?  I was wondering about a smoked pale ale instead.  I could do the porter and if it doesn't work, try to bump it up next time but I also want to make the most out of this first attempt.  I only have about 3-4 lbs so I was thinking 40% smoked malt, 60% pale malt, 12 oz chocolate malt, 8 oz C45 and 2 oz C120 for the porter.
Thanks

Offline Tristan

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Re: Home smoked malt
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2011, 02:52:02 PM »
I've smoked wheat malt on one occasion.  I smoked it for 4 hours in collanders at 140 degrees with white oak chips.  I also sprayed the malt down with distilled water and tried to stir it every 15 minutes.  The aroma wasn't super strong but noticeable.   I used 100% home smoked wheat malt for a Gratzer and it came out perfect.  The smoke flavor it there but it doesn't dominate; allowing the other flavors to be enjoyed.

I just bought some rauch malt from Northern Brewer and the smoke smell is subtle.  From what I've heard talking to other brewers that have made smoke beers; the fresher the smoked malt is the more intense quality it lends to the beer.

I'll be watching this thread with interest and hopefully brewers with more experience will chime in.
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Offline corkybstewart

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Re: Home smoked malt
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2011, 02:55:10 PM »
Wait a week or 2 before you judge it.  Smoke is strange, my first rauchbier had hardly any smoked flavor when I tasted the hydrometer sample, but months later it was much stronger.  The aroma will increase over time.  Mine was cold smoked with dry grain, for about an hour and the malt is plenty smoky now.
For my rauchbock I brewed this year I used 20% home smoked malt.  I think 40% in a porter will be good.  I'm off next weekend so it's time for me to try a smoked porter.
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Offline jeffy

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Re: Home smoked malt
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2011, 03:11:31 PM »
This is actually a pretty tough question to answer, because 1) everybody has a different perception of smoke intensity, 2) every system allows a different level of smoke penetration and 3) it is difficult to judge the smoke intensity of the final product with just the malt.  That said, the flavors of porter work very well with smoked malt.  This style can handle much more smoke flavor and aroma than, say, a lighter beer like smoked weizen. 
My smoker uses cold smoke and I have the malt fully enclosed with the smoke billowing through it for about 45 minutes to an hour.  I do moisten it with a distilled water spritzer, but I'm not sure how much difference that makes.  I do not think that it needs the suggested one week rest if using cold smoke, but find that it is probably a good idea to rest it if you had some heat with the smoking process.
The last three smoked porters I smoked the malt for (two of which were for a microbrewery) used 20% smoked malt and they have plenty of smoke for most people.
Let us know how it turns out.  Chipotle peppers work real good in a smoked porter too.
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Home smoked malt
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2011, 03:21:05 PM »
I'm planning to smoke some malt in the next couple of weeks for a darker beer I'll be making, so I'll let you know how it goes.  I've built a cold smoke chamber for the grain, so it's all ready to go.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline dannyjed

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Re: Home smoked malt
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2011, 03:49:49 PM »
I say taste it.  You should be able to taste the smokiness.
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Offline gmac

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Re: Home smoked malt
« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2011, 03:52:58 PM »
I say taste it.  You should be able to taste the smokiness.

I have.  And I've had others taste it too.  The smokiness is there but only as a slight subtle aftertaste once the malt sweetness subsides in your mouth.  I can't brew for a few days anyways so we'll let it sit and see how it develops.  Once I get more malt I may smoke another batch by itself and see what happens.  Maybe the beef ribs I was smoking sucked up all the goodness...

Offline Tristan

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Re: Home smoked malt
« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2011, 05:44:32 AM »
I'm planning to smoke some malt in the next couple of weeks for a darker beer I'll be making, so I'll let you know how it goes.  I've built a cold smoke chamber for the grain, so it's all ready to go.

Tom, would you mind posting some pics/additional info?  Was the smoker difficult to build?
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Offline Jimmy K

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Re: Home smoked malt
« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2011, 05:58:54 AM »
I'm curious how you put your grain in the smoker. It seems that could effect the smoke absorption where a thick layer in a pan would absorb much less smoke than a very thin layer spread over a screen.
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Offline gmac

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Re: Home smoked malt
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2011, 11:24:05 AM »
I'm curious how you put your grain in the smoker. It seems that could effect the smoke absorption where a thick layer in a pan would absorb much less smoke than a very thin layer spread over a screen.

I agree but I went with what room I had.  I put it in an aluminum pan that I perforated the bottom of.  I do think that a thinner layer would have likely worked better and smoked better but I also had food in there so I didn't have room.  That is one of the reasons I stirred the grain (and I also re-wetted 1/2 way through the process to try to get more smoke to "stick" to the grain).

I'm thinking if cold smoke is better, it wouldn't take me much to add a piece of flexible dryer vent hose to the top of my Big Green Egg and vent the smoke into another chamber.  Like I said, I was hoping to get more browning so I wanted the heat.

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Home smoked malt
« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2011, 11:30:44 AM »
I'm curious how you put your grain in the smoker. It seems that could effect the smoke absorption where a thick layer in a pan would absorb much less smoke than a very thin layer spread over a screen.

I agree but I went with what room I had.  I put it in an aluminum pan that I perforated the bottom of.  I do think that a thinner layer would have likely worked better and smoked better but I also had food in there so I didn't have room.  That is one of the reasons I stirred the grain (and I also re-wetted 1/2 way through the process to try to get more smoke to "stick" to the grain).

I'm thinking if cold smoke is better, it wouldn't take me much to add a piece of flexible dryer vent hose to the top of my Big Green Egg and vent the smoke into another chamber.  Like I said, I was hoping to get more browning so I wanted the heat.

not that you are likely to use the smoked malt as a base but at 250 and with water in the mix you are flirting with denaturing your enzymes. not a problem as long as you have enough other distatic malts in the grist to convert the smoked malt as well.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Home smoked malt
« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2011, 12:02:34 PM »
not that you are likely to use the smoked malt as a base

The next beer to be brewed is a Graetzer using 100% smoked wheat malt, over oak.  Tried to keep the grain as cool as possible on my set up.  Will see how it works.
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Home smoked malt
« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2011, 12:02:55 PM »
I'm planning to smoke some malt in the next couple of weeks for a darker beer I'll be making, so I'll let you know how it goes.  I've built a cold smoke chamber for the grain, so it's all ready to go.

Tom, would you mind posting some pics/additional info?  Was the smoker difficult to build?
I'll post some pics next week or two when I actually use it, but it was stupidly easy to "build".  I have a cold smoking unit that I bought for cheese and such (I see the price has gone up).

I have had good luck in the past with smoking cheese in an inverted cardboard box, so I wanted to stick with that, but the box I was using (an empty case of beer) was too small to get as much malt in as I wanted.  I'm going with a moving box from uhaul.

I built a screen to fit in the box with some clearance around the sides, and I'll just use some bricks to hold it up.  So, fire up the cold smoker, bricks in the corners to hold the screen, screen on the bricks, malt on the screen, cover it with a box.

My only concern is that the screen I built won't be big enough (16"x16") to hold as much malt as I want to smoke at once.  But it was super cheap to make, less than $5 for the frame and clips I think, I had all of the screen materials from replacing a couple of screens in my house this past summer.

It's just a fabric screen, nothing fancy, but since I'll be cold smoking I'm not concerned about that at all.  If this trial works and I want to smoke more at once in the future, I'll just get a bigger box and build a bigger screen.  Easy.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline corkybstewart

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Re: Home smoked malt
« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2011, 01:13:14 PM »


I used 2 aluminum pans with holes punched in the bottom and sides, each one holds 5 pounds.  This shows the smoker door open, with it shut it's much more intense.  I stirred the malt every 10 minutes or so for about an hour.

In this picture you can kind of see the firebox on the far left.  By building a small fire with just a little bit of wood I can cold smoke the malt.  By the time the smoke gets all the way from the firebox to the smoker it has completely cooled off-the malt smoked at about 5 degrees above ambient.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2011, 01:18:44 PM by corkybstewart »
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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Home smoked malt
« Reply #14 on: October 18, 2011, 03:03:54 PM »
not that you are likely to use the smoked malt as a base

The next beer to be brewed is a Graetzer using 100% smoked wheat malt, over oak.  Tried to keep the grain as cool as possible on my set up.  Will see how it works.

I am still researching this subject but I toasted 10 pbs of malt in the oven at 230 for 2 hours and had no problems with conversion. I did not add water in any way though so that might change things up a bit. I know dark kilned malts are roasted at 300+ and that will denature the enzymes for sure, at least after a while. I have yet to find a resource that simply says 'at x degrees for t minutes you will/will not denature the enzymes'. for now I am reading a malting text from the 1880's and am only about 1/3 through. perhaps I will have better answers in a couple more days.
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