Malt is the basic component for a number of home-brewed beers, but luckily the hardest part in making it is getting around to finally doing it. It saves you a little money and gives you way more control over the way you make your homebrew. As with all crafts, though, it’s rather difficult to get things right the first time around. We’ll be focusing on barley-based malting here to keep things short.
Making malt consists of three stages, steeping, germination and kilning. Prior to malting, make sure you get barley that’s clear of pesticides and other nasty stuff that might make you sick. Buy a test pound from a source you like, and if the results are good (i.e., 9/10ths of the barley germinate, the beer tastes good) stick to the seller you like. Get whole barley, i.e. barley with the husks on, as only that can be used later on.
Steeping & Germination
Wash the barley thoroughly, waiting until the chaff floats to the surface. Drain and put the grain in a container with water reaching just two inches over it. After about eight hours have passed, drain and let it stand without water for eight more. During the final soaking of another eight hours there bulges should start appearing in the grain. These are roots beginning to emerge. Note that grain should never be left in water more than 8 hours as they might become infertile due to lack of oxygen.
Place the grain into a pan, over paper towels or absorbent cloth, and seal everything closely in a trash bag that will hold in the moisture and keep out everything else. After about four to six days the barley will have sprouted to about the right size, which is 3/4ths of the original grain size (keep only the main sprout into account, disregarding any ‘hair’). It should weigh roughly 50% more than originally. Now the time is ripe for turning it into real malt.
Now you should heat the green malt in a temperature of 100° to 125° F for about 24 hours or until the weight is about 18 ounces for a pound of barley. Either use a household appliance, such as a hot refrigerator, or use the oven with only the light on. Afterwards dry it slowly in a temperature of 140° to 160° F until it reaches its original weight. Turn the malt every 30 minutes and slowly increase the temperature during the malt. You’ll probably need a floating thermometer for this. The final malt should be sweet and crunchy, but you’ll know something went awry if it’s rock-solid--try again if that’s the case.
Now put your homemade malt to some good use!
Posted by Jason Stone on