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Alternative ways to crush grain

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Mike-A-Lob Brewing

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Location: Portland, ME

Post Tue Dec 02, 2008 8:44 am

Alternative ways to crush grain

So rumor is that santa is bringing me a barley crusher this year, but until then I accidentally ordered my grain uncrushed and I CAN'T wait until Christmas to brew so what are some of the other ways you've all used to crush your grain. I believe I've seen on here someone that uses a blender.? Is that so or had I partaken in too many of my beverages? Incase it matters I need to crush maris otter. Thanks guys. :cheers:
It's magical...I wanna put my d!@k in it! - Beerfest
Fermentor - California Common
Keg - Strong Irish Red Ale
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dmtaylo2

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Location: Two Rivers, WI

Post Tue Dec 02, 2008 9:15 am

Re: Alternative ways to crush grain

That would be me. I use a blender. In fact, it's the ONLY thing I've used, for more than 30 all-grain batches, not to mention all the partial mash batches before that. And I have no plans to buy a mill yet. It works, it really does. My beers are what I would call "better than average" and many have won awards. And my efficiency is consistently around 80% for a standard gravity beer in the upper 1.050s. So here's exactly how I go about it, if you are truly interested.

1) Use a 1 cup measuring cup for consistency and ease of use.

2) Put 1 cup, or perhaps a slightly scant cup (as long as it's consistent) in the blender.

3) Put the cover on (this is important!).

4) Quickly pulse on/off/on/off/on/off on a medium setting (again, be consistent) until the grain stops flying all over the place. Once the grain is staying down, keep the blender turned on for about 5-6 seconds.

5) Check the "crush". You want it to look like about 85-90% of the kernels are broken into a half dozen pieces, with a reasonable amount of flour in the bottom (maybe 5-10%), and only about 5% uncracked kernels. Adjust timing as appropriate on subsequent "crushes".

6) Dump the "crushed" grain into your mash tun.

7) Repeat all the above steps for the next 20-45 minutes, depending on the size of your batch, your mash efficiency, and how big a beer you're making. Time consuming? Perhaps. Big whoop? No.

A few other notes:

a) If your blender is too powerful or too large, you may need to use more or less than 1 cup so that you get a homogeneous "crush" without it flying all around inside the blender. 1 cup is what works for my blender. But if you try to crush too much grain at one time, the stuff in the top just sits there and doesn't get crushed at all, while the bottom turns to flour. You need to find the delicate balance between flying grain vs. no movement at all, for your particular blender.

b) If you are using wheat or rye, or any dark roasted grains, you will want to do those separately, as they act different than the more normal base malts and lighter specialty malts. Generally, wheat takes an extra couple of seconds to crush down where you want it, and rye takes an especially long time, maybe 3-4 times as long as normal, as it is so hard. Dark roasted grains, on the other hand, only take a fraction of a second, it seems, as they are so light and dry and fragile. In fact, I usually just crush my dark grains with a mallet in a ziplock.

There you have it.
Dave

"This is grain, which any fool can eat, but for which the Lord intended a more divine means of consumption. Let us give praise to our Maker, and glory to His bounty, by learning about... BEER!" - Friar Tuck (Robin Hood - Prince of Thieves)
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Mike-A-Lob Brewing

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Posts: 53

Joined: Mon Aug 25, 2008 3:10 pm

Location: Portland, ME

Post Tue Dec 02, 2008 10:15 am

Re: Alternative ways to crush grain

WOW, thank you very much for taking the time to spell all that out. I'm definitely going to try that either Friday or Saturday when I make the next batch. Thank you again for the extremely detailed instructions!!!! I'll be raising a glass of my Black Duck Stout (a dry Irish stout) in your honor tonight!

:cheers: -Mike
It's magical...I wanna put my d!@k in it! - Beerfest
Fermentor - California Common
Keg - Strong Irish Red Ale
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jonbeer

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Location: Central Iowa

Post Tue Dec 02, 2008 10:45 am

Re: Alternative ways to crush grain

You have GOT to be kidding me! I just purchased a barley crusher, when I could have just used my blender? :lol: (Although, my margaritas would have a 'husky' flavor after crushing, I'm assuming. But I can live with that!) :shock:

Very inventive solution for crushing grain. Although crushing enough grain for a barleywine might take quite a while in a blender, no?
Life begins at 60....60 IBU, that is. ($1 to Denny)
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silverfront

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Location: athol, MA

Post Tue Dec 02, 2008 11:07 am

Re: Alternative ways to crush grain

technically you're not "crushing" grains in a blender. you're chopping them or cutting them up. the idea of crushing is to leave the husk mostly intact while crushing up the goodies inside. i'd think with a blender you'd end up cutting up your husks and making a bit too much flour. what kind of efficiency do you get with this method?
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dmtaylo2

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Post Tue Dec 02, 2008 11:44 am

Re: Alternative ways to crush grain

There's still plenty of husks left, although you are correct, there is a good amount of flour as well... which isn't such a bad thing, it probably improved efficiency. The trick is to "chop" it just enough without taking it too far. My mash efficiency, as stated above, is around 80% or often a little higher, for a standard gravity beer.

I recently made an imperial hefeweizen a few weeks ago. It took around 40-45 minutes to crack 16 pounds of grain (mostly wheat malt) with the blender. It takes time but it's saved me $100-something for a mill. I'm about as cheap as they come. Someday I may break down and get a mill. But it ain't necessary.
Dave

"This is grain, which any fool can eat, but for which the Lord intended a more divine means of consumption. Let us give praise to our Maker, and glory to His bounty, by learning about... BEER!" - Friar Tuck (Robin Hood - Prince of Thieves)
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lmbarnett

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Location: NLR, Arkansas

Post Tue Dec 02, 2008 4:02 pm

Re: Alternative ways to crush grain

I have used my meat grinder with the big hole plate for a small amnt of speciality grains. I would not recomend doing this with a new blade, as it dulls the blade rather quickly
In Beer there is strength,
In Wine there is wisdom,
In Water there is BACTERIA!!!
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aschribe

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Location: southern new jersey

Post Tue Dec 02, 2008 5:57 pm

Re: Alternative ways to crush grain

Someone at one time was known to have put their grain into a garbage bag, put that into another garbage bag, put a few old towels over it, and drove over a bunch of times with their car. I'm not saying who would be stupid enough to do that...
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neophenix

Post Tue Dec 02, 2008 8:20 pm

Re: Alternative ways to crush grain

I once did 1 lb of grain in a heavy ziploc bag and a rolling pin. However, I don't recommend that :(
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beardog

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Location: Madison, WI

Post Wed Dec 03, 2008 1:14 am

Re: Alternative ways to crush grain

I did the blender method for my first 2 all grains. It worked fine but was a big pain in the ass.
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mooboy76

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Location: Thunder Bay, ON

Post Wed Dec 10, 2008 7:04 pm

Re: Alternative ways to crush grain

I crushed 3# of grain with a mortar and pestle.
That was after I first tried the ziploc bag, and an old meat grinder with about 1/4 cup hopper - not at the same time though :P .

Out of the three, the mortar and pestle worked the best, but I don't think I'd do it again - on purpose :D
Bottled:Smoked Amber, Cambrian Double Brown
Up Next:Something with Munich, Chocolate Wheat and (?)
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tubercle

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Location: Outlaw Brewer since 1987 in SC

Post Wed Dec 10, 2008 7:54 pm

Re: Alternative ways to crush grain

Hollowed out stump and a piece of tree limb. :wink:
Blessed are those that expect nothing,
for they shall not be disappointed.
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brewsumore

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Joined: Fri Mar 03, 2006 10:37 pm

Location: Eastern Washington

Post Wed Dec 10, 2008 9:19 pm

Re: Alternative ways to crush grain

folks who wipe their feet on the "welcome" mat outside are known to go to their LHBS and use their mill, if that option is available to you, although you get that look of "and you didn't buy your malt here because...?", or maybe a member of your homebrew club, or a friend with a mill. Just my bias, but if I could arrange to use a mill I would. Still, it seems the blender is a good emergency backup! Oh, I am SO spoiled by having my own Barley Crusher!
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southandros

Post Thu Dec 11, 2008 8:12 am

Re: Alternative ways to crush grain

dmtaylo2 wrote: It took around 40-45 minutes to crack 16 pounds of grain (mostly wheat malt) with the blender.


Dude, you a buddhist monk or something? :P :cheers:
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Thirsty in NY

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Location: Westchester, NY

Post Thu Dec 11, 2008 9:05 am

Re: Alternative ways to crush grain

dmtaylo2 wrote:That would be me. I use a blender.


This, I have got to try.
Could be worse... could be raining.
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