Author Topic: Zymurgy article on grain conditioning  (Read 12045 times)

Offline MaltLicker

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Zymurgy article on grain conditioning
« on: March 21, 2010, 12:02:56 PM »
Last Zymurgy had an interesting article on grain conditioning, supposedly an old German technique of misting the grain lightly with water prior to crushing.  The benefit is that it makes the husk more pliable and less brittle, so it doesn't get powdery/small.  I tried it Friday and what a difference. 

I spread 4# of MO on the island and spritzed with distilled water, spread it around, and spritzed again.  Then left for about 30 minutes and came back and crushed.  Attached is a photo of both. 

The wetted MO is on left, with much more husk intact and much larger volume.  The bowl was about 1.5 inches empty before wetting, and after wetting the bowl was full.  The dry MO just shattered and fell apart more easily.  I was impressed and intend to try all the grains next time. 

Offline Joel

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Re: Zymurgy article on grain conditioning
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2010, 08:42:55 PM »
I am going to try wetting the grain tomorrow.  I did see the tip about saving a half pound out dry to dry off the rollers and setting the grinder in the sun afterwards.  Hopefully we will have some sun in Colorado again.

Offline BobBrews

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Re: Zymurgy article on grain conditioning
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2010, 06:54:57 AM »
Another resource here February 4, 2010 - Malt Conditioning and Listener Questions (Basic Brewing Radio)
http://www.basicbrewing.com/index.php?page=radio
I think this show was about wetting your grain prior to milling?
The article was in BYO magazine?
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Offline MaltLicker

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Re: Zymurgy article on grain conditioning
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2010, 06:12:58 PM »
It was in both mags, and I actually did not even see it in BYO.  It just did not stand out for some reason.  Then I read it in Zymurgy and tried it, and a friend mentioned it he'd seen it in BYO too.

It works great. 

Offline econolinevan

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Re: Zymurgy article on grain conditioning
« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2010, 09:56:48 PM »
 Did you notice any improvement in your mash effish?   Any other positives in using this technique?

Offline MaltLicker

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Re: Zymurgy article on grain conditioning
« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2010, 03:32:24 PM »
I think so; I'm now hitting 80% with a fly sparge method. 

I crushed grain Saturday and held back a small amount of dry to run thru last and it was shattered compared to the large husks of the wetted grain.   I think the filter bed must be much less likely to compact or to stick with the much larger pieces of husk this provides. 

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Re: Zymurgy article on grain conditioning
« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2010, 08:14:49 PM »
This is intersting to me   hadn't seen many discussions on this topic at all but it seem like it would make good sense with brews  that could use more husks for filtering.  would also like to see some results on dry vs wet efficiency

Offline rdewsbury

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Re: Zymurgy article on grain conditioning
« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2010, 09:00:16 AM »
I tried a couple of mini-mashes using 3 different crushes using 1G water and 1lb grain.  I know that is a very thin mash, but I wanted to be closer to the BIAB side than AG.
1) Packaged Crushed in the bag by Muntons
2) LHBS crush on coarse set mill
3) Maltmill crush , set on fine with preconditioning spritz of water.

#1, #3 both got high 70s efficiency and #2 got a low 70s - not very scientific, I know, so actual efficiencies do not matter too much.

The interesting thing from my point of view was that the fine crush absorbed about half the water that the coarser ones did. 

I also came across another article that explains it quite well at http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php/CrushEval.  The whole site is great for those who love to read the technical sections of How To Brew or Designing Great Beers. 

Offline econolinevan

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Re: Zymurgy article on grain conditioning
« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2010, 09:50:40 PM »
I think so; I'm now hitting 80% with a fly sparge method.

could you describe your fly sparge method?



Offline MaltLicker

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Re: Zymurgy article on grain conditioning
« Reply #9 on: June 26, 2010, 04:37:05 PM »
Pretty basic........two 10 gal Polarware pots for HLT and MLT.  Mash has a bazooka 12" straight under a Polarware false bottom.  I use a 5 QT boiling infusion at mash-out which raises temp to 165F or so, then mix and recycle until particle free. 

Sparge water drains from upper pot to MLT thru a simple copper T-shaped arm with about six small holes each side.  I sparge as slowly as possible. 

I use Palmers water chem info to get minerals up to recommended brewing ranges.  I've stopped checking pH because it was always 5.3 when I did. 

The grain conditioning seems to be the final thing needed to ensure a good rinsing of the grains, and I'm trying now to use just enough water to complete the boil volume and fully drain the bed. 

Last mash final runnings were 1.015, which is fine by me since I don't treat (acidify) the sparge water. 

Offline econolinevan

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Re: Zymurgy article on grain conditioning
« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2010, 11:21:02 AM »
My sparge set up is similar, only I have two ten gallon igloo water coolers and I use a rotating sparge arm I purchased from Mid West.  When the sparge arm works, it's great.  The problem I have, is to get it rotating, you have to have a lot of flow going through it and it seems like I'm not taking long enough to sparge.  It sounds like your's is stationary and doesn't really run over the top of all the grain.  I never understood why it's important to have it rotating when you actually try to maintain an inch of water over the grains in the mash.  True?  I've been thinking about doing a two or three step batch sparge and see what happens.  I like your set up in the picture.  What is the benefit of pumping water from boiler to HLT?  Less temp loss?  Or just Safety concerns of lifting HLT over head to get on upper shelf?  I usually lift mine up on top of a refridge next to my work bench where my mash sits.

Offline MaltLicker

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Re: Zymurgy article on grain conditioning
« Reply #11 on: June 27, 2010, 04:54:34 PM »
I never understood why it's important to have it rotating when you actually try to maintain an inch of water over the grains in the mash.  True? 

What is the benefit of pumping water from boiler to HLT?  Less temp loss?  Or just Safety concerns of lifting HLT over head to get on upper shelf? 

Exactly.  If we're keeping the inch of water above grains to keep it fluid, then why is movement important?  We're adding water to water, not spreading the falling water evenly onto grains, right?   And stationary allows a slower flow, I think. 

I considered long and hard on my new set-up, and decided I wanted just one burner, so I got a pump to move the hot water.  I usually brew alone, and I'm a desk-driver at work.  Can't lift 60 # of hot water and pot very easily or safely. 

Offline econolinevan

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Re: Zymurgy article on grain conditioning
« Reply #12 on: June 29, 2010, 09:13:50 AM »
Very nice!  I guess you just lift your fly sparge lid from time to time to ck level of water over grains?  I copied your idea and put my rotating sparger through the lid of my igloo.  In the future I plan to ignore the rotation part and just concentrate on a good slow sparge. 

I listened to the Basic Brew podcast on conditioning malt,(1hr to get to the 2minutes I was looking for) and I'm going to try a variation of steaming grains.  I have a large ss screen strainer which can hold 3-4# of grain and sits on top of my boiler.  I'm going to get about 3" of water boiling, set the screen on top, the lid on top of screen and steam grains for a minute or so, stiring ocasionally.  Thoughts?

They did mention adjusting rollers on grain mill to a closer tolerance.  Did you close your roller gap any?

Offline MaltLicker

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Re: Zymurgy article on grain conditioning
« Reply #13 on: June 30, 2010, 09:11:41 PM »
I guess you just lift your fly sparge lid from time to time to ck level of water over grains? 

They did mention adjusting rollers on grain mill to a closer tolerance.  Did you close your roller gap any?

Yea, I lift the pink disks up and peek with a flashlight.  I did tighten gap concurrent with these changes.  I am at 0.032 or 0.031 now, even with wheat.  I think I get away with that partially due to conditioning of grains, per other thread.  The difference in husk size is amazing.

Offline econolinevan

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Re: Zymurgy article on grain conditioning
« Reply #14 on: July 04, 2010, 09:23:54 PM »
Ok ML, I have some questions on your equip set up shown in the photo.......
1) Do you keg or bottle?
2) Do you  pump from your boiler to your Primary?
3) Are you happy with your built in thermometers on your mt & hlt?  Just wondering about the location as temps should be higher at the top of the vessels. (which is where I measure with my probe)
4) Do you use O2?
5) did I mentiion how impressed I am with your set up?