It’s now been a couple of years since I started brewing beer using the BIAB method. Sure, I could have started with extract, as many brewers do with great results. However, to me, extract brewing never interested me. Why? Because it doesn’t call upon the use of grain. I put this down to my background in the kitchen. Whenever I can, I make my own stocks for use in soups, sauces, and other recipes. Using a stock cube doesn’t interest me. It may be easier, and less time consuming, but I find the joy in cooking, as I do brewing, from scratch.
In the UK, there are more than a few good sources for your grains. Almost all of the time, I order grain from the Malt Miller. His selection is good, and the shipping is extremely reliable, quick, and well priced. The Malt Miller also supplies all his grains pre-crushed, or uncrushed, which, before I got a Brewferm Adjustable Roller Malt Mill, was essential. The crush has always been good from the Malt Miller; however, just like pepper, freshly milled malt is best. Crushed malt can go stale, and it takes additional planning to order my grains crushed right on the run up to a brew day. With my hectic lifestyle, and the fact that I can only brew on the weekends, I had to be certain that I could brew on the weekend after ordering, in order to have nice, freshly crushed grains. This started to become a bit of a nuisance for me. If something came up, I would have to put off brewing, and leave my grains pre-crushed in the corner of my shed. Because of my dedication to fresh ingredients, this didn’t sit well with me.
I chose to get a malt mill to surpass these issues. By having a malt mill at the ready, I can crush my grains right before brewing, sometimes on the same day if I have the time. But this isn’t the only benefit of having a malt mill. I can now order uncrushed grain in bulk, and begin stock piling my base grains. If I need any specialty grains, I can order these in small amounts on an ad hoc basis. Further, there is a great cost benefit in having your own malt mill. I use a lot of Weyermann Premium Pilsner Malt. The Malt Miller sells this for £1.95 per kilogram. Alternatively, buying in bulk, I can buy 25 kilograms of Weyermann Premium Pilsner Malt from the Malt Miller for £36.00. By buying 25 kg at a time, this amounts to £12.75 savings when buying in bulk.
The Brewferm Adjustable Roller Malt Mill
Luckily, for Christmas I received a Brewferm Adjustable Roller Malt Mill from my girlfriend. Yes, she beat me to my own purchase! This weekend I had a chance to set it up and give it a go for the first time. Here is my Brewferm Malt Mill Review.
The contents of the box are as expected. There are four pieces of stainless steel sheet metal, which come pre-drilled and ready for assembly to form the hopper, the roller assembly which is rated to 50kg / hour, a crank, a piece of MDF board that acts as a base, and the required nuts and bolts for assembly. It took 12 screws to assemble the hopper, which comes included with the kit. The hopper holds just approximately 3 kg. A bigger hopper would have been nice, but this is a fairly minor point for me. The hopper easily slots onto the top of the roller assembly, and is attached using two nuts. The roller assembly is then bolted to the MDF board. On the bottom of the board, there is a groove which allows the board to rest securely on top of a bucket. Luckily, I had a plastic bucket that slotted in perfectly. Ultimately, the assembly of the Brewferm Adjustable Roller Malt Mill was easy and quick.
On the ends of the roller assembly, you can set your adjustments to your preferred crush measurement. This is done by loosening the screw shown on the right side of the picture below, and then twisting the adjustment dial to the desired width. There are indicators on the side for .025″, .050″ and .100″. I set mine half way between .025″ and .050″. This is done on both sides of the roller assembly.
The crank which is supplied with the kit can then be attached on the long shank above, but I opted to fit my electric drill. The rollers rotate very smoothly, and chewed through my 4 kg pilsner malt in no time. The picture below shows the Weyermann Premium Pilsner malt that I milled at approximately .035″.
All of the grains were crushed, but the husks remained largely intact. There was some flour, but not too much. I compared my crush with that of a kg of malt that I acquired pre-crushed from the Malt Miller. It looked very similar, and I was very happy with the outcome. As odd as it may sound, milling my own grain really added an extra dimension to my brew day which was very enjoyable. Nevertheless, I did not remain fully satisfied until testing my crushed grain in a mash. I quickly heated my strike water, and mashed in at 62 celsius for my beta rest. I raised the temperature to 69 celsius using an infusion step at 40 minutes for an alpha rest. I then raised the temp to 75 celsius at 80 minutes for a 10 minute mash out. I then recirculated the wort to set the grain bed, and drained. I was delighted that I did not get a stuck sparge, which happened to me on my last brew day using almost the exact same grain bill! The picture below is the grain bed after first run-off.
I then batch-sparged with an amount of water equal to that which I mashed with, and checked the gravity of the wort which I collected in my kettle. After a short calculation, I determined that I hit 72% mash efficiency. This is exactly what I was hoping for.
Ultimately, the Brewferm Adjustable Roller Malt Mill worked a treat. I was impressed with the simplicity of its assembly, and smooth operation. The rollers are well manufactured, and are very sturdy. It chewed through the grain easily, and gave me a good crush resulting in a problem-free sparge. In addition, the price is right. The Brewferm Adjustable Roller Malt Mill goes for £138.00 at brewuk.co.uk, which is significantly cheaper than many of its competitors, and it comes with a 3 year warranty. All in all, I feel comfortable with giving it the Grizzly Bear stamp of approval!
I’d love to hear from you – please post your comments below!