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 (or toasting) Your Malts Part 3

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. If you don’t have an Ereader, CLICK HERE to download the PC version of the Kindle App. You can then read the book on your PC.

Since my last installments on home roasting ( Part 1 which is an introduction and Part 2 which gets into experimentation and I make Special B ), I have been doing some more experimentation as well as research on the reactions of home roasting. The experimentation I focused on was working on comparing oven roasting to roasting the grain in a nut roaster (A drum roaster or something similar will give you the same results as my nut roaster). Each has a trade off, the nut roaster has more control and is a bit faster. The tradeoff for this is that things can quickly and very easily go beyond the point you intend. The second, is that at a specific point, the grain will start to smoke. The smoke can get very heavy very fast. I do find that the color in the nut roaster seems to be a bit more even. The oven is a much slower, but offers much better temperature control. There is also a bit less smoking. However, the roast appears to be a bit more uneven, and to keep the roast even you have to take the grain out and stir it, which will increase your roast time. You are also limited to being able to do the much deeper roasts because you need the control and high heat of a nut roaster, or other roasting vessel. Below you will see examples of several grain types for comparison in color and even texture. I must note that I did some experimentation with wheat malt and pearled (dehusked) barley and found the nut roaster to be a much better option for those types of grain.

Roasting Grain-The Reaction.
I covered this briefly in part 1 of my home roasting segment, but I will cover it a bit more in-depth here. Don’t worry, I will not be going into formulas and chemistry, I found that very boring. But understanding the reaction a bit more will help you come up with your own roasting varieties and experiments. The only process you really need to concern yourself with in home roasting malt is the Maillard reaction, which is not a single reaction but rather a grouping of complex chemical reactions between acids and carbohydrates. In short is a non-enzymatic browning by heat. During the Maillard reactions there are many different flavor compounds created, the number and type of compounds created depend on the food type being heated. In most cases what we get when we roast/toast grain is actually the formation of Melanoidins, which often bring a degree of caramelization-like flavors and aromas to the grain, even though it is not true caramelization of the sugars.

Nut Roaster or Oven?
So Below you will fin a bunch of pictures of what I am talking about in this segment, so if you want to skip this part, feel free. In a side by side comparison, I found that I was easily able to reproduce any grain in the nut roaster that I was in the oven. The key is to keep the grains moving and keep a close eye on the changes in color of the grain. Because the roasting goes so fast in a nut roaster (less than 5 minutes in most cases) it is very easy to get beyond the point you wish to get to, for example while making chocolate malt I easily went past my point and charred a few grains. I lost focus for only about 30 seconds as I stirred and watched what my son was doing for just a second. You also get a considerable about of smoke past a certain point, so if you don’t have a fan above your stove, you may be better off doing this outside. I found the best temperature to roast my grains in the nut roaster to get a decent even browning and not to over burn the grain or take forever to get to the browning point was at medium heat on my stove. I cannot stress enough that you really need to keep the grain moving. I did notice that you have 5 easily definable stages. The point you notice the grain starts to brown slightly, a slight crackled of the grain every now and again, a heavier crackle of the grain as it roasts, a light smoke, and a heavier smoking stage. The problem with using these stages though is that there is a lot of color change between each one, so you really need to mainly gauge the stage of the grain by your eye, unlike the oven where you can rely on time and temperature. I also found that the darker grains were much more even and had better flavor in the roaster than in the oven, even though it is much easier for the grain to get away from you once you hit that higher roasting stage. Below is a quick Pros and Cons of each roasting method.

Pros: Easy Temperature control, time is easy to control, Roast/Toast is consistent with your system, easy to provide instruction to others (toast grain at 350 degrees for 30 minutes is easy instruction to pass on).
Cons: Roast can be uneven at times if you don’t stir often, stirring often can increase roast/toast time, takes a long time to achieve roast, darker roasts are near impossible.
Pros:Faster Roast Time, Roast/Toast is more even, easy to get darker roasts not achievable in oven, visual gauging of the grain can give you a wider variety of roasts, handles dehusked or husk free grains a bit better.
Cons: Easy for the grain to get away from you (too dark or burned), grain can start to smoke, consistent roasts are hard when based solely on visual gauging, if roaster is too hot you will only brown the husk and not the starches inside.

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to email me. Below are pictures of a few recent roasts as well as Marris Otter and White Wheat experiments. Note that in each picture I included a small amount of the unroasted grain for change comparison.

Now on to the photos

This is just a picture of the nut roaster. You could probably use a drum roaster, clean wok, or even a clean pat if you can keep the grain moving.


Golden Malt, in the oven (300 Degrees for 25-30 Min)


Deep Amber in the Oven (375 Degrees for 40-45 Min)


Brown Malt (400 degrees for 45-50 Min depending on you oven)


White Wheat in the oven (400 degrees for 15 Minutes) You need to remember that grains without husks will brown the starches faster and more direct.


White Wheat in the Nut Roaster till the grain starts to crackle.


I call this a stout roast. It’s beyond brown malt and quite black. It was too bad a some of the grains got charred, You need to be careful to avoid charring too many grains.


  • Charter Oak Brewing Company LLC says:

    We enjoy reading about all the beers and beer stories this blog reports on. We are in the planning stages for a new brewery in Northeastern USA called Charter Oak Brewing Company LLC and our business plan is to grow to over 25,000BBL within 5 years.
    The breweries and stories you report on, allow for much encouragement.
    A True Legend!

    March 9, 2012 at 5:26 pm
  • mark turner says:

    Just wanted to say Thanks for all of the information. I now have a small store of several pounds each of what I substitute for C30L, Munich and amber thanks to your info (along with Palmer and Mosher’s description, but your photos gave me the guts to try it), and it has worked well in several beer recipes.

    My additional experience is that (1) it’s very hard to control anything much darker than amber outdoors on the gas grill, but it keeps the odor out of the house and actually does quite well with light dry toasted grain, and (2) once I learned the top of my oven is cooler than by the bottom burner, it worked quite well for oven mashing but its air-tightness took forever to dry out the grain for long term storage. So I need to come up with a better drying procedure – I’m actually pondering doing that on the grill since there’s nothing air-tight about that thing…

    March 22, 2012 at 5:59 pm
    • barleypopmaker says:

      That’s great! Those books are where I got a bulk of my information, then just experimented myself from there. I’m glad the pictures gave you the inspiration to start making some yourself.

      March 26, 2012 at 5:29 pm
  • Art Cravener says:

    Wouldn’t you lose a lot of sugars in the liquid when mashing in
    a pot?

    March 28, 2012 at 6:21 am
    • barleypopmaker says:

      The starches are still contained within the husk and the starch is what is converted to sugar. Most of the sugar is contained in the husk, but you do lose some, just not a lot. I did think of that when doing it and tasted by water, it was barely sweet.

      April 1, 2012 at 3:31 pm
  • J says:

    lol, continue spamming blogs…..

    April 2, 2012 at 9:16 am
  • rick says:

    Great post and pictures but you do not say how long your boil is.

    September 3, 2013 at 11:37 am
    • Barleypopmaker says:

      I boil for only about 5 minutes.

      September 3, 2013 at 6:43 pm
  • Gerardo Gonzalez says:

    hello everyone , i just got the Roasted: the Homebrewer’s Guide to Home Roasting Grain , but i was wondering how can i make Viena , Munich , Biscuit and Victory malt? anyone knows?

    December 30, 2013 at 9:16 am
    • Barleypopmaker says:

      The closest you are going to get at home is to dry roast the grain to the estimated lovibond of the grain. The lower the temperature the better to preserve enzymes. For example, American 2 row malt starting at 1.8L roasted to 28L will bring you close to Victory. Roasting some Dingeman’s (or other Belgian pale malt) to 5L-10L depending on the type of Munich you want will bring you close to Munich, and roasting it to 2.5L-5L will bring you close to Vienna. These malts you are referring to are kilned and not technically roasted, but you will get close.

      January 21, 2014 at 5:49 pm
  • Craig says:

    Q from the dummy in the back of the class:
    Since the initial malting process has already taken place, why can I just take a pound of pale 2 row from my bag and put it directly into the roaster? I’m sure there’s something I don’t understand here—but why do I need to rehydrate and then re-dry the malt a second time?

    At any rate, thanks for this website—I’m a newbie to AG and this has taken me to another dimension. Truly mind expanding!

    February 23, 2014 at 11:20 am
    • Barleypopmaker says:

      That’s only if you are making crystal/caramel malt. If you are dry roasting, you can just take the 2-row or whatever malt you wish and roast it. But any malt that you want to be like a caramel malt, needs to be wet, mashed in the husk to convert starches to sugars, then dried and/or roasted to the desired color/flavor.

      February 23, 2014 at 12:20 pm

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