50 Shades of Pale (Malted Barley)

I know, I know, terrible title.

I homebrew once a month, if the going is good to fair. I buy my pale malted barley in sacks of 25kg (55lbs) (milled). I brew 19-23L brew lengths, depending on the recipe. I end up with a malted barley hanging around, gradually degrading, and brewing with ‘old’ malted barley is ultimately lowering the quality of the beer that I brew.

Buying in bulk represents good value, as a general rule. So I am loathed to stop buying the 25kg sacks of malt. Brewing more than once a month is likely to reduce my enjoyment of brewing at home, as I have experienced what it is like to rush through a brewday, just to “get it done”. My solution? roast my own malted barley. I have an abundance of pale malted barley (base malt), and I may require additional, smaller quantities of crystal malts (specialty malt). For the sake of any argument – as I don’t claim to be an expert maltster – lets call these light and dark malts.

The last beer I brewed was a Brown Ale, and it was based on an American recipe, which called for Victory malt (which I substituted for Biscuit Malt), and Toasted Wheat Malt. I asked around about Toasted Wheat Malt, with no joy, and decided to toast some Pale Wheat Malt? Obvious, right? Anyway, I put the few hundred grams of Pale Wheat Malt into a small roasting tray, and grilled for about 5 minutes, giving the tray a shake every minute to ensure as much of the grain was exposed to the heat as possible.  Not an exact science.  Will that have made the difference? I guess I won’t know for sure, but it smelled toasted, so I’m assuming that it will have altered the flavour too.

Taking this a step further, and with guidance from the legendary Ray Daniels (Designing Great Beers), a book that is so good, that I’ve systematically turned the corner down on every page – Damn it Ray! – I plan to do the following. I want to brew an Amber Ale. That’s right reader, I will attempt to roast some Pale Ale Malt (Golden Promise) and transform it into Amber Malt. Ray cites the roasting procedure to Dr.John Harrison and the Durden Park Beer Circle.

Roasting Your Own Amber Malt

Place pale ale malt to a depth of 1/2 inch in a foil-lined cooking pan. Cook in the oven as follows:
1. 45 minutes at 230 degrees F (110C)
2. 20-60 minutes at 300 degrees F (149C)

After the first 20 minutes, cut several kernels [Note to self: the grain not the brewers] in half to inspect the colour of the starchy endosperm [stop giggling at the back]. For amber malt, this area should be light buff in colour when finished [seriously guys cut that out, you're spoiling this for the rest of us].

Continue heating at 300 degrees F (149C) until this colo[u]r is achieved, usually after 45 to 50 minutes.

I will report back with my findings.

Thanks for reading!

6 thoughts on “50 Shades of Pale (Malted Barley)

  1. Home roasting malts works very well (assume you have a mill as you need to roast whole grains).
    I’ve followed the Durden Park method for pale Amber and you get a wonderful nutty malt. Thinking of doing an 1845 like beer at some point and using home roasted malt again.

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