Author Topic: Crushing with the barley crusher  (Read 16843 times)

Offline econolinevan

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Crushing with the barley crusher
« on: May 25, 2009, 10:20:41 AM »
I've been brewing for a couple of years now. I have only six all grain batches under my belt, all in the last five months.  Out of the six I have only been pleased with one of the beer's efficiencies out of the mash.  I've tried several things to improve my mash efficiency, but still it seems a little eratic.  Mash temperatures I think have been one of my biggest past nemesis, but I hope I've cured this problem with more reliable thermometer. I've always have had my grains crushed and mixed before being shipped to me.  I'm wondering how big of a factor this practice can be in my brew efficiency.  If I were to purchase the bc mill, is there a guide for grain/roller spacing?  I'm thinking every grain probably has to be different and the roller gap has got to be set differently for each grain, right?  I'm wondering if the suppliers I buy from actually take the time to do this.  I remember getting started in home brewing and hearing you can just use a beer bottle and gently roll over your grains if you don't get them precrushed.  I guess I need to be assured my brewing will improve before I can justify to myself and more importantly to my wife that investing in in the bc mill is a good thing.  Advice from the masters?

dhaenerbrewer

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Re: Crushing with the barley crusher
« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2009, 11:41:32 AM »
There are several factors at play here. Buying grain pre-milled will cause you to lose diastatic power. Diastatic power is the enzymes ability to convert the starches to sugar. As soon as the grain is milled and the enzymes are exposed to oxygen, they start to lose diastatic power. You can assume that you will lose about 40-50% of the grains diastatic power within 5-7 days of milling. Some people think it's mroe than that. Temperature is also a big factor, but it seems like you have that problem in hand. Make sure you calibrate your thermometer every 10 brews or so. Having the right grind is also a big factor. Most 2-row is fairly similair in size. The more highly roasted malts will have less moisture content, and therefore will be smaller. Wheat on the other hand tends to be larger, but it doesn't have any husk material anyway, so you can pulverize the crap out of it and it doesn't matter much. I think that investing in a mill will pay for itself in the long run. Buying 50lb sacks of unmilled grain will save you a lot of money. You can store it for quite some time unmilled, and you can brew whenever you feel like it. I say go for it. It's a worthwhile investment. Just make sure you get a quality mill that is easy to adjust. Do your homework and get a good one. http://morebeer.com/view_product/18591/102312/Grain_Gobbler_Homebrew_Grain_Mill_4_Inch  <-- I have that mill, and it works great. Easy to adjust, the rollers don't go out of adjustment easily, it comes apart easily for cleaning, and it can handle 25lbs. of grain in less than 5 minutes. It's also set-up to easily be motorized so you don't have to hold a drill while milling.

Darin

Offline econolinevan

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Re: Crushing with the barley crusher
« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2009, 07:36:57 PM »
Thank you for your wise advice.  I'm finding this forum ever bit as helpful than any piece of equipment I've purchased.  I will continue my homework on finding the right crusher.  And then we'll see where my mash efficiency goes.  Stay tuned, ::)

Bruce

Offline MaltLicker

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Re: Crushing with the barley crusher
« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2009, 06:27:48 AM »
Another nice thing about crushing your own is flexibility - you can change the recipe at the last minute.  And that may inspire you to buy a pound of grains you've never used before and try them. 

I know our local store (also a large web retailer) crushes all grains together and then bags them up.  So to Darin's point about wheat, I usually run any wheat I'm using through once by itself, and then include it with the other grains for a second pass. 

The Barley Crusher is nice since it ships with the board and hopper included.  Many mills do not. 

Offline UselessBrewing

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Re: Crushing with the barley crusher
« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2009, 07:15:23 AM »
I also own a Barley Crusher and would recommend it. I use a drill on mine and it makes quick work of the grains. I was able to justify the purchase with SWMBO because she found a Smoked porter she wanted me to replicate. But there is something to be said about buying in bulk!

I was able to see a small jump in efficiency with the purchase of my mill.

Cheers
Preston
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Offline Pirate Point Brewer

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Re: Crushing with the barley crusher
« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2010, 04:50:29 PM »
Wow!  A lotta stuff here!!  I’m not sure which is the best advice as from our experience it is all TRUE!!  We (the Princess) bought us a BC for my Birthday. It wasn’t the mill I would have chosen but, when the SWMBO goes to the LHBS and buys it for you…. I love it as much as I love her (for the last 34 years). Our efficiency wandered from 65% to 85% buying pre-crushed grain from the LHBS. I’m ANAL about process so I’d say we were consistent in process, but we were unable to pin down the efficiency variable. It could have been everything we’ve read above. We did it all. Sometimes 2 weeks from crush to brew. Three people setting up the crusher at LHBS. We ask for double grind. We may/may not have gotten it. I hope this sounds familiar to all. S0000….. Now with the BC, we now get 80%+ every time.  We do not change the setting for every grain. We mix them altogether for the batch before we crush. We crush directly into the MLT on brew day. We do use a drill. We “THINK” we have seen a difference ( 2% to 3%) based on speed. We have no real data to support this. But we tend to see the best result from the slowest speeds. Minimum flour, min dust, max in tact hulls. We’ll see next brew season as we will brew 30+ batches from October to April. The best justification is bulk purchase. We typically get 50 12oz bottles per batch. Buying un-crushed grain in bulk, Hops by the pound, and reusing yeast, our cost is $0.25 per bottle!!  Water costs more!!
We will never not buy in bulk and grind our own moving forward. Our estimates are that by the end of our next brew season, the BC will be paid for.
In Fall and Winter, we burn wood in the fireplace and brew beer.
In Spring & Summer, we're on the water or walking the beach!
 Then back at the dock we create a reason to brew!

Offline MaltLicker

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Re: Crushing with the barley crusher
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2010, 06:01:36 PM »
Both Zymurgy and BYO have had recent articles on conditioning grains before crushing, and having tried it, I am convinced, which adds another reason to crush your own at home.  I spritzed my grain with distilled water on the counter the night before brewing and crushed it in the morning prior to mashing.  The difference in husk size and filtering ability was amazing. 

Offline Pirate Point Brewer

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Re: Crushing with the barley crusher
« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2010, 04:44:05 AM »
Maltlicker,

Tell us more! Our typical batch is 10 to 12 lbs of grain.  The Princess is very patient but I just can’t visualize spreading 12 lbs of grain on her kitchen counter (s) and spraying them with water. ???  I’m not making fun as I have also read this in HBT etc. I just wasn’t smart enough to figure out the logistics of handling all the grain.  How did you approach this? ???

Preston
In Fall and Winter, we burn wood in the fireplace and brew beer.
In Spring & Summer, we're on the water or walking the beach!
 Then back at the dock we create a reason to brew!

Offline MaltLicker

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Re: Crushing with the barley crusher
« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2010, 08:26:20 PM »
I think I've done 4# or 5# at the most at one time.  But the bottom line is that grain is so darn dry that it is brittle when crushed and just shatters.  Lightly re-hydrating the husks before crushing makes the husk more pliable and less prone to becoming powdery.  Works with wheat too despite being husk-less. 

I would describe it as the husks are twisted off rather than crushed.  And the kernal/endosperm is better crushed while the husk is more intact.  Attached is a pic of same Maris Otter grain.  Left is wetted and right is dry. 

Offline Pirate Point Brewer

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Re: Crushing with the barley crusher
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2010, 05:18:22 AM »
You can really see the differences!  How about the rollers in the mill? Mine don’t seem to be made of anything special, (mild steel vs stainless) have you seen, or are you concerned about rust  or other complications with the rollers?

Preston
In Fall and Winter, we burn wood in the fireplace and brew beer.
In Spring & Summer, we're on the water or walking the beach!
 Then back at the dock we create a reason to brew!

Offline MaltLicker

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Re: Crushing with the barley crusher
« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2010, 02:14:38 PM »
I blow it out with compressed air afterward.  People have suggested saving a half-pound of dry grain for last, and putting the rollers out in the sun afterward to fully dry out.  

I've since done a hefe with 4# of wheat and it helped with wheat too.  
« Last Edit: April 19, 2010, 10:36:13 AM by MaltLicker »

Offline Pirate Point Brewer

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Re: Crushing with the barley crusher
« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2010, 03:35:21 PM »
Maltlicker

Thanks - great suggestions.

Preston
In Fall and Winter, we burn wood in the fireplace and brew beer.
In Spring & Summer, we're on the water or walking the beach!
 Then back at the dock we create a reason to brew!

Offline Kevcor

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Re: Crushing with the barley crusher
« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2012, 08:16:54 PM »
Both Zymurgy and BYO have had recent articles on conditioning grains before crushing, and having tried it, I am convinced, which adds another reason to crush your own at home.  I spritzed my grain with distilled water on the counter the night before brewing and crushed it in the morning prior to mashing.  The difference in husk size and filtering ability was amazing.

MaltLicker I know this is an old post but I just came across this topic. Interesting on using the distilled water the night before. Do you have a grain/water ratio you use? I'd like to try this. Did you change the setting on the crusher?
Home Brew is happy food

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