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