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Jun 08, 2022 View:

Making your own malt

I know it is common enough to make your own malt for whiskey producers... and in theory it is simple enough. Step,germinate and dry. I am hoping to do a couple of trials this summer to see the feasibility of this for our production (might do this in a couple of years...but let's pace ourselves haha). I figure steep the barley in 200l barrels we have lying around then lay the out on a cement slab mixing them regularly then figure out a way to dry/kiln them. I'd like to roast but that is probably out of our practical reach for a while.

I was wondering if any of you made your own malt and what experiences you had doing so. We plan on building a herb dehydrator this summer anyways so I'm hoping to tweek it a little to give us the option to "kiln" our grain slightly (need to go to around 80 celsius to do this properly, so a little hotter then the 40 or so Celsius to dry herbs... I'm still not sure at all if this is possible but I like to dream.

anyways any stories of experience in malting would be fun to hear


I do my own malting of rye but do not dry it. I malt only enough for one batch at a time then use it "green" it saves a lot of time and heating costs.

80% of my mash is crushed unmalted grain. I suspect that using 100% green malt would produce some strange cabbagy flavours because of the attached roots and shoots.

see +rye


Thanks for that link, very interesting stuff! I'm going to play around with all this when summer finally hits here in canada. I am still thinking of building a makeshift dryer/kiln but we will see how that goes... lots of test batches to do to perfect this and I will probably do what your doing and only use a small amount of actually malted grain. Low protein rests in the mashing to make up for the initial low enzyme concentration should work great.


I've malted barley several times on a tiny scale for HB, even grown the barley . The grain needs to be 'seasoned' for some weeks after harvest before it's germinable. You can test a sample a little to see if germination rate is high. There is no great difficulty getting the grain to adsorb the ~45% of dry weight as water that will lead to complete chitting. I believe the traditional method was one long 2-day submersion, but modern method is for a series of two or 3 soak/aeration cycles in the first couple days.

The main problem is infection. The grain husks are chock full of bacteria ready to take off when wetted, and there is a possibility of mold growth esp if air flow is insufficient. An initial and periodic quick steep in a high pH water (adjusted with lime) helps knockback the infections. Even so you can expect some DMS aromas from bacteria at minimum.

The Dutch have something traditional called "wind malt" which is air-dried in the sun. Its effective but requires a big sunny surface and a dry days. The point is that you need to either immediately use the product or dry it - kilning is not necessary.

FWIW traditional German pale malts were chitted for only 5-6 days, while UK malts for much longer ~10+ days (it's all shorter now with modern pneumatic malting). You get the full enzyme development in those first days, but the friability of the kernel increases in the later day. So if you are going to crush finely, and mash pretty thoroughly - 5 days is enough.

It's not clear to me how you can crush wet/fresh malt.