Home Made Crystal Malt by Alex Troncaso Chief Brewer, Little Creatures
Back in my early days of studying brewing I used to do a lot of home brewing, and just had a general curiosity for the process.
One day I found all of my fermenters full but, still wanting to do something brewing related, I decided to make some crystal malt at home - and it even actually worked! Below is the method I came up with, based on my reading about how crystal malt is produced. I'm not claiming that this will be better than what you can buy, but it's a bit of fun at the very least and will make your beer just a bit more ‘yours'.
The basic steps in the process are steeping, stewing and kilning.
Steeping is required to raise the moisture content of the dry malt to approximately 50%. Interestingly, re-hydrating finished pale malt is one method by which crystal malts can be made.
Stewing is the step where the contents of the now re-hydrated malt will be converted to sugars (yes, just like mashing!).
Kilning is the stage where the malt is dried, the kernel contents become caramelised and melanoidins are formed.
- Measure out 500g of Pale Malt. I'm sure any Pale Malt will suffice.
- Measure 1.5l of water and add to a pot. Add the malt to the water.
- Heat the mixture to approximately 45°C and let sit for two hours. Stir occasionally. The warm water temperature assists in water up-take.
- After the two hours are up, the malt should be rehydrated. Strain the mixture through a normal kitchen strainer.
- Preheat your oven to approx 70°C. Place the wet malt in a baking/casserole dish and level out the grain bed. Put the lid on (if no lid, cover with foil, a plate, or whatever) and put in the oven. Let stew for two hours, stirring every 30 minutes. Note: it might pay to verify the temperature of your oven with a thermometer - I know mine is slightly out.
- Once step 5 is complete, remove the lid and for a sort of ‘medium' crystal - increase the oven temperature to 175°C and kiln (bake) for two hours, stirring every 15 minutes. Make sure the grain bed is levelled after stirring. After two hours, you can raise the oven temperature to 200°C and kiln for another 30 minutes for a darker colour. During this time, stir every five minutes. Don't kiln any higher than 200°C as it may burn the malt and might even catch fire!
Those temperatures are just guidelines, you can play around with lower temps, longer times, whatever, to get different character and colour.
- Once the kilning is complete, remove from the oven and cool uncovered. The grains will become crunchy after cooling (ie. when the caramelised insides are cold). Once cool, place in a sealed container and let sit for approximately one week before brewing.
- Brew a good English Bitter and enjoy! Happy Brewing!