Good news... TODAY WAS DOUBLE BREW DAY. And I got to brew outside, which was awesome. Check me out, all spargin' and shiz.
I brewed my Pilsen Pale Ale with the new modified hop schedule (F U CORPORATE HOP PIGS) and a new wheat ale recipe I made up today. It was a full day of brewing, and it was awesome.
I finally started malting grain! I figured I needed to start practicing, since when I start my brewery I plan to use only grains that I malt my damn self. My first step was to swing by the feed store and pick up a 50 pound bag of raw wheat.... I went to three stores and not one of them had a sack of barley.
I was JITTERY with excitement when I brought this home. And the best part? I paid 25 cents a pound. Compare that to the buck-thirty I drop per pound at the LHBS. Sure, its much MUCH MUUUCCCHHHH more convenient, but who needs convenience when doing stuff yourself is so much more satisfying?
Sadly, there isn't much information about malting at home on the internet, but I did find THIS awesomely terrible looking website that had some awesomely GREAT info on malting and building a malting floor. If you read through it, you'll find he basically just builds a small box with a Plaster of Paris floor. So, thats what I decided to base my design off of. But I'm getting ahead of myself...
After buying the grain, the first thing I did was dump about half the bag into a Homer bucket and filled it up with water.
BOOM. I had officially started to malt me some wheat! The malting process always starts with a series of steeps and rests. There is some controversy over how long to steep/how long to rest the grains, but from what I could scrape together on the internet, it seems its most common to steep for 6-8 hours, then drain and let them rest for 6-8 hours. Repeat this process until the grain starts to "chit," which is when the first little rootlets start to poke out.
A word of warning... grains swell up like CRAZY. These babies totally ballooned up enough to fill the whole bucket.
So, I pulled a bunch out and stuck em in my little blue brew kettle you see there to the left. Problem solved. Back to chitting.
My research said that wheat takes all around less time to malt than barley, and this proved true since mine started to chit after only 2 soaking and rinsing cycles.
Now that my wheat was starting to grow, I need to figure out, you know, where the frick I was going to put it! I stole some ideas from the previously mentioned website, drove down to Lowe's and threw this bad mamma' jamma' together.
It was extremely easy to make... concrete board bottom, 2x4 frame, thick Plaster of Paris coat to finish it off. At this point, I went back to my grain and soaked them in a StarSan bath. I have never read about anyone doing this... or many people malting at all for that matter... but I figured it would be a good idea for a couple reasons. First, it cant hurt the grain. Second, it will hurt, nay, murder any microbes that could potentially cause the lump of wet organic material that is my malt to start rotting. So after letting that final soak take place, and letting my plaster dry, I rinsed the grain and dumped it onto my malting floor!
This phase is called couching. Basically you put the grain into a lump, and the heat from germination helps the grains to grow more. This is the stage I am still currently in. I have been going down there (my basement) to stir them up and dump a little water on them every few hours. In fact... I'm about to go do that again very soon!
Temperature is a big deal, by the way. If anyone plans on trying this, the grains have to be as close to 55-60 degrees as possible. That being said, my basement hovers more around the 65ish degree mark. As of yet though, I have no mold, and they seem to be doing great! A lot of them have a few rootlets poking out now. Tomorrow I will spread them out to let them finish modifying. And before they are done, I have to figure out how the frick I'm going to kiln it.
When this is all done, I'm going to malt the rest of the bag and do a how-to. Cheers!