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crushin' it - homebrew grain mill gap settings | morebeer

crushin' it - homebrew grain mill gap settings | morebeer

by Vito Delucchi Milling Grain at Home - In Summary Grain is an agricultural product, and its size and friabilitycanvary each year depending on the yearly harvest, and the maltster. To better familiarize yourself with all of the attributes of the malt youre using, you can conduct, what is called a sieve test. Milling your own grains at home will allow you to dial in the perfect crush for both your brewing system, and the grain youre using. When your grain is milled properly, youll move closer to achieving consistency and maximum brewing efficiency. Gap settings are not universal, and while there is not just one ideal gap setting, if youre using a 2-roller homebrew mill, you can start with a gap setting of right around 1.0 mm, and adjust from there. Buying Milled Grain vs Unmilled Grain One of the most common questions we get here at MoreBeer! is what is the ideal gap setting for my grain mill? While that seems like a pretty straight-forward question, the answer couldn't be more nuanced. The ideal gap setting for producing a fine crush on my grain mill, might not be the right crush at all for your brewing system. Your brewing system might require a coarser crush to prevent a stuck mash and your mill might have different diameter rollers. Couple that with the fact that grain varies in kernel size and crushability from different harvests and maltsters, this opens up a real discussion. If youve ever boughtpre-milled maltfrom a homebrew shop or online retailer, youve probably noticed that the crush is very coarse. This is done because this is the safest crush that should work on the most brewing systems, however, it is not great for brewing efficiency. A lot of publishedhomebrewing recipestake this into consideration, and will have incorporated an extra pound or two of malt into the recipes grain bill. An extra pound or two per batch isnt going to cost much on a homebrewing scale, but in a commercial setting, it will add up greatly over time. While professional brewers need high brewing efficiency to keep the cost per batch down, for homebrewers, securing consistent brewing efficiency is more of a right of passage, or proof of an understanding of the craft, more than a way to save money on ingredients. This makes it easier to understand how there cant be just one magic, universal gap setting for homebrewing. When it comes to gap settings, youll always want to mind the gap, which is just another way of saying that your crushed grain batch after batch requires some attention and modification to be consistent. Understanding the difference between coarse and fine crushes helps with efficiency, and will help to prevent a stuck mash. Consistency is key, both in replicating recipes, and for understanding results in your finished beer. Click here to browse our selection of grain mills for homebrewing! Understanding a COA and a Sieve Test When I started working full time in the industry with MoreBeer!, one of the first projects I began working on helped me to learn a great deal about malt in general. We were working withViking Maltto develop a new base malt geared for the North American market, which led me to begin familiarizing myself with all of the aspects of a malt analysis sheet, otherwise known as a Certificate of Analysis, or COA. On a COA, youll see a lot of detailed information, and two of the most important specs with regards to gap settings and crush are friability and lot assortment, which well focus on in this article. Friability is the tendency for a kernel to break into smaller pieces when pressure is applied. Lot assortment is the indicator of the kernel sizes of that batch of malt. It is calculated by counting the weight of kernels in a sample assortment caught on different sized screens. Ideally you want a majority of your kernels to be plump and caught in the top screen. To help demonstrate how friability and lot assortment affect your crush at differentgap settings I performed a sieve test on several popular base malts.The base malts I used were -- Viking Xtra Pale, Rahr 2-Row, and Admiral Maltings Gallaghers Best. Using a standard 2-roller homebrew mill, I crushed each malt using four different gap settings. The gap settings were 1.25 mm, 1.0 mm, 0.75 mm and 0.50 mm, and I used a feeler gauge to confirm these gap setting between each milling. After milling, I performed a grain sieve test on the different malts and crushes, and recorded all of the results. While performing a sieve test is pretty straightforward, doing sixteen of them takes quite some time. To mimic this test, youll want to place three rubber balls on each of the 3 standard US test sieve sizes, with the bottom pan under the finest screen -- #14, #30, and #60. The sieves must be stacked in a specific order, with the widest screen at the top (#14) and the finest (#60) on the bottom. The grain thats being measured is then put into the top sieve, and the lid is put on before beginning the testing process. For my example, I used 100 grams to make it easier, but up to 130 grams can be used at a time with the US standard test sieves. For the most accurate representation of the crush, your test should include husks, kernels, and powder. Youll need a smooth and flat surface to test in order to slide the test sieves back and forth a few times. The sieves have to move 18 inches in one direction and then the other in about 0.5 seconds each way, for a total of 1 second in each cycle. Every 15 seconds, youll need to pat the sieves downward on the work surface. This cycle must be maintained for three minutes total, and once completed, empty each sieve, brush them out completely, and weigh and record the results. You can calculate the percentage of each sieve by dividing each fraction by the sum of all fractions weights, then multiplied by 100. Example: #14 + #30 + #60 + Pan = Sum Then: #14 / Sum x 100 = percentage Next, repeat for screens 30, 60, and the pan. Because we started with 100 grams of sample material, the percentages will be really close to the original fractions. Figure A Malt Tested Friability Lot Assortment Viking - Xtra Pale 92 97 Rahr - 2-Row 92 98 Briess - 2-Row 89 92 Admiral - Gallaghers Best 75 99 Figure B 1.25 MM Gap Setting #14 #30 #60 Pan Viking - Xtra Pale 59% 24% 8% 9% Rahr - 2-Row 60% 23% 9% 8% Briess - 2-Row 61% 23% 8% 8% Admiral - Gallaghers Best 56% 26% 9% 9% Figure C 1.00 MM Gap Setting #14 #30 #60 Pan Viking - Xtra Pale 40% 34% 11% 15% Rahr - 2-Row 35% 32% 16% 17% Briess - 2-Row 40% 35% 13% 12% Admiral - Gallaghers Best 41% 36% 11% 12% Figure D 0.75 MM Gap Setting #14 #30 #60 Pan Viking - Xtra Pale 23% 39% 19% 19% Rahr - 2-Row 27% 41% 16% 16% Briess - 2-Row 25% 43% 17% 15% Admiral - Gallaghers Best 25% 42% 17% 16% Figure E 0.50 MM Gap Setting #14 #30 #60 Pan Viking - Xtra Pale 15% 35% 24% 26% Rahr - 2-Row 13% 37% 24% 26% Briess - 2-Row 12% 40% 24% 24% Admiral - Gallaghers Best 19% 36% 22% 23% Figure F (Admiral Malts milling specs) Sieve # #14 #30 #60 Pan Coarse 70 - 85% 10 - 20% 10% 5% Standard 45 - 55% 25 - 50% 10% 7% Fine 30 - 35% 40 - 60% 5 -15% 10% Extra Fine 10 - 20% 20 - 40% 40 - 50% 10 - 20% Making Sense of the Data! Knowing the friability and lot assortment of these malts prior to conducting this test (Figure A), I was anticipating a greater variance. To my surprise, the biggest gap (pun intended) in percentages was 7%. This percentage is still almost enough of a difference to go from a standard crush to a fine crush (Figure F) with the exact same gap setting, by doing nothing other than switching the base malts. This is where that old phrase mind the gap, becomes valuable. In this context, mind the gap isnt just an old adage, its meant to act as a reminder of the importance of checking your gap setting with each batch of beer that you brew. If we use Admiral Malts milling spec (Figure F) as our reference point, we can see that with these specific lots of grain the following gap settings landed us roughly in these spec ranges. Coarse 1.25 MM Gap Setting Standard 1.00 MM Gap Setting Fine 0.75 MM Gap Setting Extra Fine 0.50 MM Gap Setting To browse our extensive selection of brewing malts and grain, click here! So...What is the Ideal Gap Setting for my Grain Mill? Now, knowing what we know, lets see if we can attempt to answer the original question: what is the ideal gap setting for my grain mill? We should assume were talking about most 2-roller homebrew mills, which have a 1.25 diameter roller, and youre brewing with a mash tun that has a good false bottom. With these things in mind, you could start with a gap of a little over 1.0 mm, and adjust from there. If you dont have a feeler gauge to measure the gap, you can use a credit card to help measure, which is about 0.76 mm. When we talk about an ideal gap setting, you want to adjust the gap to find a highly efficient setting to work for your brewing system, but which is not fine enough to cause a stuck mash. Milling your grains at home allows you to work with the freshest possible ingredients, but it will also allow you to dial in the best crush on your grains for maximum efficiency. Because barley is an agricultural product, its friability and kernel size assortment is always going to vary year to year with the harvest, and from maltster to maltster. The most important takeaway from this article should be that gap settings are not universal, and the crush should be monitored during every milling to ensure that the malt youre working with is being properly crushed. While sieve tests are a great way to get the most ideal crush for your brewing system dialed in, paying close attention to the crush quality during each milling you do with help you to get the most consistent crush. When you master achieving consistent crushes, consistent batches are what are sure to follow, and brewing consistency is what makes a good brewer.

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6 best grain mills for brewing beer [ 2021 reviews ]

6 best grain mills for brewing beer [ 2021 reviews ]

If youre a homebrewer, picking the right grain mill is a critical decision for you. And even though investing in mills can be expensive, its crucial to achieving great-quality and consistent brews every single time!

If you like brewing large amounts of fabulous beer, this is the perfect grain mill for handling large batches. Because of its hopper volume, consistent quality, and excellent throughput, this grain grinder is a popular choice amongst home brewers. The upgraded thicker hopper is ideal for malt, wheat, and barley. The design includes two 5 rollers to efficiently grind the grain to achieve a fineness thats ideal for your homebrew. It also has a secure drill mode that allows you to attach an electric drill and make grinding easier. The high-quality product is undoubtedly a winner, and is highly recommended!

The heavy-duty homebrew mill has a three-roller design to help you achieve the perfect crush size in less time. This mill is a premium product made from high-quality material and finish that offers maximum efficiency even at large volumes. This grain mill is for homebrewers who demand more control and consistency over the grinding process. This model features an 11 lb hopper, which you can upgrade to a total of 39 lb with an optional extension. The grain mill is built to last, so you get great value for your money.

Featuring a 12 lb hopper, this crank handle grain miller is one of the best products you can get your hands on for brewing beer. The 3-roller mill also comes with a power drill option so you can power the mill when you get tired. The adjustable roller gap allows you the flexibility to fine-tune the grain to your exact needs.

If youre looking for a more compact grain mill, this one by Roots & Branches is a top contender. Its perfect as a home mill and for small-batch beer brewing. The simple-to-use tool can grind wheat, barley, rice, and other small grains. Adjust the grind to your preference using the front dial and achieve just the right crush size for your brew. This super-efficient grinding mill can hold up to 4 cups of grain and accepts a motor for powered grinding.

This one is atop pick for expert-level brewers. This heavy-duty product is built to last and offer great value for money. If youre a beer brewing enthusiast, this grain mill wont disappoint you. This model can easily manage up to 7 lbs of grain at a time and features an ergonomic handle to perform the task with ease. It also includes a drill option so you can relieve your arms and automate the process. The adjustable rollers are another plus that makes this product such a hit with homebrewers.

This ones a complete package that offers high-efficiency grinding for brewing. This model is made from industrial grade stainless steel, and the adjustable rollers can be adjusted to 1 of the gap to give the desired density of grain. The large hopper can hold up to 7 lb at a time and can give you the right crush size in just two rounds within 10 minutes. Make grinding a breeze with this high-quality product designed to perfection with all of its amazing features.

While buying a grain mill can be a significant investment, but thats the one-off amount you will pay to save money in the long run. Most homebrew supply shops charge a lot of money for crushing grains. You can avoid all of these extra costs by getting your own grain mill.

Do not compromise on the quality of your beer and stick to brewing with the freshest ingredients. One of the best ways to guarantee that is if you do it by yourself. Instead of purchasing pre-milled grain, just mill your own grain and brew it right away to retain maximum freshness.

Enjoy more control over your beer recipe and its quality by using the amount of grain you need by milling it yourself. This way, you can also avoid using excessive crystal malt and other grains with flavors and stick to a recipe that you love the most.

Rollers are often made from hardened steel to crush the grain well. Some models will feature stainless steel to offer better protection against corrosion. If you live in a coastal or damp region, choosing the latter option will be better.

A two-roller mill can do the job just fine in two rounds as per the gap you adjust and the crush size your desire. However, a three-roller mill would do the same in one go by passing the grain through two different gaps. The first would break the husks of the grain while the second grind the grits. Pick one depending on how much grain you need to crush at a time.

The capacity of the mill depends on the hopper. The available models can hold anywhere between 10 and 40 pounds of grain. Pick a product according to your need. Also, a strong wooden base provides a sturdy platform to hold everything in place during the milling process.

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