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!

The Hoppening – Ghost Drinker’s Neurotoxin

Why are you eyeing my lemon drink?

The Hoppening 

I think I’m starting to get the hang of this beer blogging malarkey.  I let my mind wander during both my waking hours and the slightly abstract portal of my dream-state.  What seems to be a trend for me at the moment is thinking up tenuous film links with beer and for this I apologise, it’s probably just a phase I’ll grow out of.

Coincidentally, and not on his part I’m sure, I have been gifted with a bottle of beer homebrewed by a ghostly apparition and its human henchman, just in time for the Festival of the Dead.  He’s thoughtful like that.

ReSpectre the labelling

For someone with no physical form and therefore a distinct disadvantage when it comes to the ability to hold anything, it’s hardly a surprise that the Ghost Drinker is systematically selecting human hosts to see his plans through to fruition.   He is what you might call a cuckoo brewer… a dead cuckoo brewer.  He calls this practice “collaboration“, whereas the living know this better as a haunting.  But don’t worry, if he comes a’knocking he’s more Casper than Krueger.  On this occasion he selected Matt Lovatt or @Braukerl if you Tweet.  Nobody knows what happened to his last possession.

"They're here..."

At 6.66% abv this amber ale could not be called anything but a name like Poltergeist.  It looks the genuine article and the artwork reminds of the lift doors at the Overlook Hotel, aka that spooky hotel in The Shining.  What’s more, the bottle has been sealed with black wax which makes me wonder whether he is trying to keep something else other than the beer from getting out?

Upon opening the seal there is not so much a pfft as more of a presence in the room.  There are immediate aromas of peach, mango and candy, along with what I imagine is the yeast profile, a fruity, earthiness that gives it real depth.


From the dark bottle and predominantly black and white exterior comes a vibrant red beer, it’s murky appearance hiding what lies beneath.  It pours with a decent sized head which relaxes back to a thin covering before the first sip.  The bitterness hits you immediately and spares no part of your tongue.  The bitterness doesn’t really fade but there is just enough room for the fruits to come forward and balance things a little before the sweet malts come into play.  As someone who has brewed a couple of beers, I can picture Ghosty and Matt tasting the sweet wort as it ran from the copper and knowing it was going to be a good one.  As far as the bitterness goes, having taken a look a the hop bill and with an expected IBU of 77, I’m fairly sure they have achieved exactly what they set out to do.  The mouth-feel is thick and syrupy and it feels to cling to your mouth with the bitterness refusing to let you go.  It’s an extremely satisfying beer for those that like a hop kick!  I took my time with this beer and really appreciated receiving the chance to try it, cheers guys, I hope to brew something half as tasty and share the wealth.  On the basis of this beer and many others I’ve had the pleasure of trying of late, the homebrewing scene is alive and kicking out some quality, even when it’s brewed by the dead.

The write-up of their brewday and recipe is posted here.

You can also see Ghosty’s and Matt’s beer reviewed over on The Beer Prole and by CAMRGB.