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Jun 08, 2022 View:

Mashing raw barley

So @Silk City Distillers got me wondering about taste differences between raw and malted barley.  So think, "self, just make ten gallons of beer from both malted & raw, run them through a simple pot and see if you can tell them apart".  Then I realized I have no idea how to mash raw barley. I guess I'd start like I do a cereal mash with corn except at 150 not 190.  Adjust pH, add alpha and gluco? I'm stumped on this. 






this might help you 


 a simple test is to cook a small amount grist say couple pounds , cook it with no enzymes till the starch is gelatinous like a bowl of thick glue . keep track of your temp and how long it took . then when you do a real batch replicate the temp and time but add your high temp enzyme on the heat up to keep it loose . the unmalted barley we use may not be same as yours but , 160 f held for 30 min seems to work for us . as temp drops add low temp enzyme at 150 . different varieties of barley may be different 


We've done some whiskey from 100% unmalted barley flour, we just mashed it the same as how we deal with other unmalted grains using a high temp alpha and gluco. So far the unmalted barley spirit has gotten pretty poor marks for flavor, and we'll ultimately probably need to blend the barrels with something else down the road. We've tried out a lot of different grains (rice, oats, rye, wheat, corn, millet, sorghum, barley) and unmalted barley is the least appealing to my palate.  


Our Rye is 100% unmalted, and our Oat Bourbon is 100% unmalted oat and corn (no malt) - both get overwhelmingly positive reviews.

The big question I raised is can you really do a comparison unless you can source grain grown in a similar manner, this applies to the end distillate being better or worse.

A typical enzyme mash for us is to add grain around 120, adjust ph to 5.2-5.4, add Beta Glucanase and half of the high temp amylase.  Raise to the upper end of the gelatinization temperate range from the grain, hold for 1.5-2 hours, start dropping temperature.  Add the second half of the amylase.  Recheck pH and adjust to 5.2 if necessary, add glucoamylase at 140 - hold for 1.5 hours, cool, pitch.

You absolutely need to add nutrient when using unmalted grain, especially so if you are not using backset.  Unmalted grain will be too low in FAN for a healthy fermentation.

Reply:1 hour ago, Silk City Distillers said:

we have done tests on different varieties of barley and harrington 2 row is always the winner . anything we have tried with 6 row barley has ended up less than impressive.  we found 6 row to have way higher protein and less starch ,,,,great feed barley but not so great for mashing .   the type of soil its grown on and the weather conditions have a large influence on the grain . a good year seems to grow good barley that has 10 percent or hopefully less small starch granules in the kernel thus dropping the gel temp significantly .

 silk city as far as nutrients go we have never tried that you may be onto some thing , possibly the yeast trub from the previous batch would work . guess we need to do an experiment . 


Reply:3 hours ago, Silk City Distillers said:



What kind of start/finish SG numbers are you guys getting out of raw barley? Will it pull the same numbers and wash % as other unmalted grains?


Theoretically unmalted should have a slightly higher yield than malted, since some starch is converted/utilized during the malting process.

However, if you are working by weight, the wildcard is moisture %.  Fresh malts are typically pretty tightly controlled and consistent from a moisture percentage.  Raw grain from a field is going to be all over the place.  We notice this with our rye.

We considered starting to test moisture of our mash grain - using the simple oven method.   Weigh, dry, reweigh, repeat until stable.

Other consideration is grind.  Unmalted grain does not mill like malted grain.  Unmalted is tougher to work with.  Probably irrelevant with a hammer mill, but with a roller mill, it will require a tighter gap.  Also, higher percentages of moisture may require multiple rollers, or multiple passes through the mill.  We used to roller mill unmalted rye (less dusty), but the first pass through the mill would yield a flattened piece of rye, not unlike a flaked rye.  Two passes were necessary to break it up.  (our roller mill only has 1 set of rollers).  Malted grains always roller-mill beautifully.



As to the OP about the flavor of a barley whiskey, that is not completely malted: we produce a whiskey that uses both and it is very well received. Much Irish whiskey is produced this way, which is why we do it. 

As mentioed above, unmalted barley is pretty tough, and we grind it twice, then temperature treat it as if it were wheat. For unmalted conversion, the grinder is your friend.




Question about a planned grain bill of 50% unmalted barley and 50% hard winter wheat.   Will I have problems with lautering vs using malted barley?

Reply:12 hours ago, Madshine said: