Barleypopmaker's Beer Blog

~I know you drank the beer, but did you experience it?

Barleypopmaker's Beer Blog - ~I know you drank the beer, but did you experience it?

Home Roasting Your Malts (with Pictures):Updated

(Note: I have a part 2 to this post that is based on my first run at making Special B, I also have a part 3 which covers more on Melanoidens and other methods of roasting besides the oven (drum roasting, nut roasting, pan roasting, ect)

It’s here! Roasted: the Homebrewer’s Guide to Home Roasting Grain written by yours truly ( Click Here for the Amazon Kindle Version)! It’s available as an Ebook Download through Amazon for only $2.99. The book covers a lot of the information contained in my posts, but also has additional information on base malts, and reading a malt analysis sheet. It’s not the longest book, but it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of books that cover how to brew and brewing science. This book focuses solely on the art of home roasting grain for beer.

Roasting your own grains is an awesome way to add another personal touch to your homebrew.  I love roasting my own malts and even make my own crystal malt from time to time. It is so easy, and all you need is an oven and some time. Roasting your malts doesn’t take more than an hour at the most, except for crystal malt. Home roasting adds some awesome malt flavor to your beer. I have won awards with some of the beers that have home roasted malts in them. One of them is my highest scoring beer with a 43 out of 50. So great beer with home roasted malts is quite possible. Granted, you don’t have the consistency of professional malts, but you have added more home-made factor to your beer.  For more on this topic or how to do your own crystal/caramel malts I suggest buying Randy Mosher’s Book Radical Brewing, which is where I started to base my roasting methods off of. You can of course purchase my Ebook; Roasted: A Homebrewer’s Guide to Home Roasting Grain.

Why it Works
The roasted grains you get from your homebrew shop, mostly start out exactly like the two or six you pale malt you are buying. The difference is how they are treating the grain afterwards. They have specific process that they follow each time and have exact temperatures and testing equipment to ensure a consistent and stable product. But in the end all they are doing with the malted grain is playing with the browning reaction called Malliard Reactions. Mainly this is an altering of the flavor and aroma of the grain by browning the starches and proteins inside the grain to a specific degree. The changes in color, again the browning of the starches and proteins  change the chemical properties of the grain my changing the melanoidins in the malt. It is reported that this melanoidin change also helps preserve the beer by slowing the oxidation process of the beer.

Before We Begin
There have been some questions on whether it is necessary to let your grains rest for 2 weeks prior to using them. I highly suggest doing so, but if you find you can’t wait, just make sure you are using the lighter roasts. The rest time allows for unwanted aromas that are produced during the browning of the starches in the grain to dissipate. From what I can find, this is mostly for the darker roasts, possibly deep amber and above. I have found that as a general rule, the professional maltsters allow their roasted/toasted grains to rest for 4-6 weeks. I personally have used some grains after a week without any noticeable off flavors or aromas, but then again none of those were the richer roasts.

The Process

  • For Gold Malt (est. 20 L) that is malty, caramelly and rich but not toasty roast your base malt for 25 minutes at 300 degrees F.
  • For Amber Malt (est. 35 L) that is Nutty, Malty, and lightly toasty roast your base malt for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F.
  • For Copper Malt (est. 100 L)that has a strong toasted flavor with some nutlike notes roast your base malt for 30 minutes at 400 degrees F.
  • For Brown Malt (est. 175 L) that has a strong roasted flavor, roast your base malt for 50 minutes at 400 degrees F.
  • For Chocolate Malt (est 200+ L depending on time and heat): You need more heat and control than what you can get in the oven. For Chocolate malt use a clean stainless steel  or cast iron fry pan on low heat, slowly bringing medium-high heat. You need to stir or shake the pan constantly and not let any kernels sit still or you will end up with scorching instead of dry roasting.
  • For Crystal/Caramel Malt soak 1-2 lbs of pale 2 row in just enough water to cover plus about an inch (make sure you use distilled, filtered tap, or spring water). Let soak for a few hours, but no less than 2 hours and no more than 24, I soak for 3-4 hours. Then Put grains into a pan and keep grains about 2″ deep then place into a preheated 180 degree oven (make sure you have a probe thermometer in the oven and not to let the temps inside the stewing grain to go above 160. If they do reduce your ovens temperature) for 1 1/2 hours. Then spread out grain into 2 separate pans and make sure the grains are no more than 1″ deep. Then increase temperature in over to 250 and let bake for 2 hours or until dry. Then if desired remove from oven for light crystal, or use the roasting guide above to create your own darker versions of crystal malt.
  • You can also do what I call Sudo-Caramel malts. To do these you just wet the grain a bit to change the flavor and aroma profile and add a bit of sweetness to the grain. You will not get as much sweetness as if you do a full caramel malt process above, but you will make a great grain for both all grain and steeping grain for extract. Generally what you are going to do is soak the grain for under an hour, I find a half hour works well to impart a bit of wetness to the grain. You can use the same temperatures above to produce similar grains but add a touch of sweetness.

In the end, everything is all up to you. Use these above processes as a guideline, but not as law. Have fun, try different temps and times. Play around with wet or dry roasts as well as caramel malt processes and develop your own specialty malts. There my friends, is a truly unique beer that will be difficult to reproduce. Just don’t fear roasting, your really can’t screw it up if you pay attention to temps and times. The Photos. (you will notice I line my pans with tin foil to avoid getting any oil or grease from previous uses of the pans. You could use dedicated jelly roll pans if you want. But you do not want any oil or fat getting onto your grains)

This is our control, this is straight from the sack 2 row, prior to roasting

This is Deep Amber Malt as described above halfway through the roasting process. I like to stir it halfway through to get a more even toast.

This is finished Deep Amber Malt as described above. This is probably my favorite roast to make.

Here is a side by side of some pale golden malt as I have described above and some unroasted pale 2 row. It is hard to tell the difference until you do a side by side, then it is obvious.

Golden Malt as I have described in the process at the top of the page.

Crystal Malt in Process.

I like to soak this way for three hours. Then I just pull up the colander, and pour out the water, then let the malt drip dry for a while. It helps reduce the excess water. Generally, I do a pound to pound and half max.

This grain is not roasted, but it is wet grain. I place it in a small mound then cook it as I have described above. Essentially, you are mashing in the husk.

This is the finished crystal malt. The drying time is the longest part, but once dry and you start the roast, it’s all up to you how to make your crystal/caramel malt. The one in the picture was roasted at 325 degrees for 30 minutes after drying.

  • Eduardo Gutierrez says:

    Great job, man !!. Your work is an inspiration to my home brew project. This is the best and most complete information I´ve found on the topic. Where I live, the variety of malts is not very wide.

    August 21, 2011 at 11:04 am
    • barleypopmaker says:

      Thanks! I’m glad this could be of help to you. I’ll be honest, I prefer home roasted malts most of the time. I’m sure you will be happy with the outcome. Once you get a feel for your oven, you will be able to produce fairly consistent malts. If you have any questions, I’d be happy to try to help you if I can.

      August 23, 2011 at 4:54 pm
      • garae says:

        I just saw that you’d be happy to help.
        I’ve just been roasting my own malts. I have a question. I want to make the black project stout from HBT. I want to substitute some roasted barley and i think i’ll use some black patent.
        But, as a matter of fact, I do not have carafa special II either. What could i use instead of that???

        November 14, 2011 at 2:14 pm
        • barleypopmaker says:

          Thanks for contacting me. I don’t claim to have all the answers but I will help where I can. From my understanding Carafa special II is dehusked and I don’t know of any process to do at home to replicate that. But the dehusked carafa special II will be a tough one. Something you could try as a substitute would normally be home roasted chocolate malt in a wok or nut roaster. But the dehusking process would a tough one to figure out and I really don’t have an answer for that one. I don’t want just toss some guesses out either because that does nobody any good. I took a look at the recipe you talked about and I see it does have special B. I have not made special B as of yet, but I will be experimenting with that this month as a matter of fact. My plan for special B is to take Belgian Pale Ale malt, soak it for 3 hours, cook it in the husk to convert sugars as I lay out in my blog, dry the malt, and then roast that caramel malt at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. That’s my plan for Special B as I will be using it in a beer based on Arrogant Bastard Ale. I know this probably does not help you much, but the special process of that malt is beyond me. However, if you hear of any other ideas in your search, I would love to hear them myself and give them a try.

          November 14, 2011 at 6:38 pm
  • The Sky Limit says:

    Thanks this is great, Ive made a few of this resently. Im just waiting for the rest period. Just tried the Chocolate with 4oz and soaked for fifteen minutes, brought up slowly to about 7 on my burner tell dry then brought temp back down to five with a slow rise to max until i got the desired color hovering pan and stirring while wet and shaking while dry the whole time. It gets a little hot, but after cooling in front of a fan it tastes like great kina like Burnt Marshmellows.

    Thanks again for this great Home Roasting Blog

    October 7, 2011 at 8:23 pm
  • Lithic VanDerHoden says:

    Thanks for the primer, bruddah! NH, USA past shop hours is grateful, as an equal part 2-row/6-row/triticale beer is waiting to be made, and a bit of variety is needed.


    December 28, 2011 at 7:20 pm
  • Don Sampson says:

    I made a brown ale using your instructions. The wort tasted like liquid heaven, raisins, chocolate, toasted almonds…… Thank you!!!!!!!!!

    I will post the final verdict, but judging by the wort…… I can only say THANKS!

    January 29, 2012 at 9:03 pm
    • barleypopmaker says:

      Excellent! Thanks for the feedback. It makes me very happy to hear that something I did helped out a fellow homebrewer. There are so many people I have learned from, I am just very proud I could help someone else.

      February 1, 2012 at 6:32 pm
      • Don Sampson says:

        Have you ever roasted Vienna or Pilsner malts? I have an abundance and would like to use this technique again. Great job man!

        February 4, 2012 at 4:57 pm
        • barleypopmaker says:

          I have not done those 2 particular malts. But I did make a dark caramel style malt with Munich Malt. I still have it and have not brewed with it yet though. The Pils would be interesting to try but I have not. I am doing a roasting malt presentation for our homebrew club in March, maybe I’ll pick up a pound of Pils and see what happens.

          February 5, 2012 at 8:00 pm
          • KB says:

            Any updates on roasting methods or brewing methods and outcomes of the final brew with pilsner malt? I just tried roasting a pilsner at 350F for 30 mins. I’m gonna do another tomorrow for 1 hr. And maybe some wet malt toasting for experimentation..well, I guess all of it it 🙂 bu t yes, feedback and discussion would be greatly appreciated about roasted pilsner…annd, an extension of this window. Many thanks for starting this webpage!!

            May 15, 2013 at 10:32 am
  • LEwis says:

    Dude, you are aweome, thanks. Page bookmarked 🙂

    May 19, 2012 at 5:18 am
  • joelongstreet says:

    I’m getting ready to try this right now. I’m going with the deep amber malt for a Scottish Heavy!

    May 26, 2012 at 12:31 pm
  • Dan says:

    Nice post, I had a quick question. What would a convection oven bring to this process? Less time, more consistancy? I’m planning on making some special roast~50L and going to try for some pale chocolate~200L If I use my convection oven do you think It would require less time than your above instructions? Thanks again for posting your experience.

    July 19, 2012 at 3:00 pm
    • barleypopmaker says:

      I do not own a convection oven so any advice or ideas I would have are strictly theoretical. Knowing the advantage of a convection oven are more even heating, and faster cook times because of the circulating air I would think that you would get a much more even roast, and you would probably have to gauge your times a bit better. I would keep a close eye on it and have a control sample nearby. For example if you are shooting for something in the 10 degree lovibond range, have a sample nearby with a handful of known 10 degree lovibond grain. One Idea I would have is that with the circulating air, it would dry out wet grains (like when making crystal malts or other soaked specialty grains) a lot faster which could be a huge advantage for making crystal malts.

      July 20, 2012 at 11:15 pm
      • Dan says:

        So I gave roasting some pale malt in my convection oven a try last night. I was going for brown malt or sort of a pale chocolate substitute. I ended up leaving the malt in for about 35 min at 375 stiring every 5-10 min. I noticed the husks did not really change color much but in the ones that popped open the grain inside had changed color quite a bit. I went more by flavor than anything. By 35min the malt had quite a roasty character to it, could be considered a little burnt like, but one mans burnt is another mans roast. I’ll be making a brown ale with it next week so I’ll find out then how far I pushed it. Thanks again for the advice.

        July 24, 2012 at 8:59 am
        • barleypopmaker says:

          Great! Hopefully it’s not too roasty for you but if it is you can always dial it back by 5 minutes next time. When trying a new way, you don’t always nail it dead on the first try. I would be interested to know how it turns out for you.

          July 24, 2012 at 8:49 pm
          • Dan says:

            The Beer came out Great! this is the best roast character I’ve ever had in a brown ale. I plan on doing a whole lot more home roasting. Thanks for the info. If anyone else is using a convection oven I would recomend cutting your time by about 1/3 or so.

            August 31, 2012 at 3:06 pm
  • Don Sampson says:

    I have been making crystal 40 and 120 based on your updated process. After the mash, I put the grain in a food dehydrator. It dries in about 4 hours, then off to the oven for roasting. It makes the entire house smell good!

    Also, I noticed that I lose about an ounce for each pound after roasting. Probably just moisture loss, but if anyone wants to plan ahead for it, you could add 1oz/lb to the pre-roast amount.

    September 3, 2012 at 9:33 am
    • barleypopmaker says:

      Great info Don, thanks so much for the feedback. I would imagine that you are correct in your loss is from additional moisture. The grain may be actually more dry than when you started out.

      September 10, 2012 at 9:13 pm
  • Carl says:

    Have you tried with Wheat malt ? I must make dark wheat malt (7L) and roasted malt (300L).
    I think I’m gonna try to make the pale ale gold malt recipie for the dark wheat malt et the chocolate one for roasted wheat malt. Thanks !

    September 10, 2012 at 6:24 pm
    • Don says:

      I made carawheat (40L), toasted wheat (10L) and I roasted wheat malt to about 250L, using the chocolate malt instructions here. Wheat is really easy to work with but it does darken fast. I am hoping to get something similar to carafa special.

      September 10, 2012 at 8:31 pm
    • barleypopmaker says:

      I have done some wheat, I have mostly worked with White Wheat. In part 3 of the Roasting with Grains topic I have a few pictures of some wheat I roasted at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. You do need to be careful because there is no husk in wheat, so the maillard reactions are taking place directly on the starch of the grain itself. It does brown quickly. Here is a link to the part 3 if you wanted to take a look at it.

      September 10, 2012 at 9:07 pm
      • Carl says:

        Making dark wheat malt : 30 minute at 275 fahrenheit.

        September 14, 2012 at 8:21 am
  • KERt says:

    Hey, thanks for this. One question, though. When you describe the flavors of the different malts, are you describing how it will taste in the glass? Or how the grain will taste if you’re trying to hit the right roast and you grab a kernel off the cookie sheet and pop it into your mouth? I followed directions for a deep amber, and the grain tastes very roasty (and bitter)–much more like a brown. I used floor-malted Warminster Maris Otter, and that seems to darken more quickly than my American two-row, so that may be part of the issue, but I was wondering if I’ve understood your descriptions properly. Thx!

    September 26, 2012 at 2:41 pm
    • barleypopmaker says:

      The flavor and aroma are based on what they will attribute to the beer. If you smell and eat the grain, it will give you a good idea of what flavor it will add to the beer. But the descriptions I give are intended to be what they add to the finished beer.

      October 3, 2012 at 9:06 pm
    • barleypopmaker says:

      I should also add that each oven and environment is a bit different. If your batch, following the instructions, turned out a bit too dark and roasty. You can either reduce the time or reduce the temperature. The instructions are meant to be a guideline. Some people get spot on results matching my process and some people find they have to make some tweaks. To address your comment about Marris Otter, I have found that Maris Otter has a totally different roasted profile than the standard American 2 Row (1.8L) that I generally use. Marris Otter inherently is a bit more rich in flavor and adds a biscuit flavor and aroma, while with standard 2 row is a bit more mild. It is also at 3-4 degrees L. so it does start out darker. With that said, it does sound like you are understanding the descriptions properly, you just used a different malt than I generally use and the malt I used, which will give you different results.

      October 3, 2012 at 9:14 pm
  • Johnny Utah says:

    How much time adjustment do you recommend for using “Pale Ale” malt instead of 2 Row?

    BTW, I have toasted White Wheat malt for 15 mins at ~ 300 degrees, and it smelled so good, and the taste was phenomenal!

    September 29, 2012 at 8:26 pm
    • barleypopmaker says:

      I would guess 5 minutes. The difference between pale ale malt and regular 2 row is only about 1.5 -2 degrees lovibond. But again, if you find it too dark or too light, I would adjust accordingly. But it was me I would only drop 5 minutes to start.

      October 1, 2012 at 4:39 pm
  • HappyHax0r says:

    Thanks for the guide, I’m toasting 4.5lbs of MO right now to try and get a toasty/nutty flavor that while present in my current ESB with amber malt isn’t quite “perfect”. I’m hoping this puts it over the top.

    BTW, does toasting grain _always_ smell this amazing?

    Also, any plans to put your e-book in epub format? If so I’m totally buying that book.

    February 16, 2013 at 10:07 pm
    • HappyHax0r says:

      Hmm, interesting, I didn’t find the MO changed color much but the flavor itself was considerably more toasty/nutty. It did have some very harsh notes to it (almost like toast that might have been cooked slightly more toward the darker side. I’m hoping that kicks out over the next week before I use it, but I think this will do the trick.

      February 16, 2013 at 11:14 pm
    • Barleypopmaker says:

      I’ve read both of your comments, and I have found similar results with Marris Otter, however not as harsh. Yes, it does smell amazing….oddly enough my wife does not enjoy roasting days. I can’t imagine why, but for some reason she doesn’t enjoy the smell. As far as publishing in Epub format, I have just submitted it to Barnes and Nobel, I don’t know if that helps but I am working with other ebook publishing sites as time permits. I will post updates as the book is released to other venues.

      March 18, 2013 at 6:31 pm
  • Zeus says:

    Hi, what about enzymatic activity of this malts? Because I made o few but no enzymatic activity 🙁

    April 1, 2013 at 1:14 pm
    • Barleypopmaker says:

      You are correct. As you heat the grain, you denature the enzymes. The higher the temperature and/or the longer the roast the lower your diastatic power will be. I explain in the book that generally you should not count on any roast that goes above the 10 degree SRM range to have any ability to convert and to consider them specialty grains. The minimum of degrees lintner that a grain can self convert is 35, examples of those grains are Munich and Vienna malts. So I use those grains as a guideline on where to stop even considering the grains to have any power to convert. I once made an all amber malt beer for SMaSH beer competition with home roasted Amber Malt and I had a heck of time with my mash. My numbers were will below planned and I attributed it to the roast of the entire bill. I lucked out and still took 2nd place, but it was a good thing they didn’t know they were drinking one hell of a session beer at about 3.5% ABV. If you think about how mashing out work in your mash, the same rule will apply to the roast. In short, the high temperature kill the enzymes.

      April 1, 2013 at 9:23 pm
  • Kels says:

    Hi mate, this is a really interesting write up! I’m going to have a bit of a play with roasting some grains today and this has helped in my research on it. I am really keen to try the crystal method too but will leave that for another day as I don’t have the time today. Anyway, regarding the chocolate malt, what sort of temperatures do you need for it? My oven goes up to about 250C (482F). Is that hot enough or does it have to be higher?


    September 2, 2013 at 2:30 pm
    • Barleypopmaker says:

      I don’t suggest doing chocolate malt in the oven. There is a considerable amount of smoking from the grains when they roast at those hight temps for long periods of time, it’s best to do chocolate either outside or on the stovetop if you have an exhaust fan above your burners. I do my chocolate in a nut roaster, and I get a lot of smoke even with my exhaust fan. I do it over medium heat on the stove until it visually looks like chocolate malt, roughly 10-15 minutes in the hot pan. You can mist with water to help keep the smoke down a bit.

      September 3, 2013 at 6:48 pm
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