Most homebrewers don’t begin their brewing obsession by rushing out and buying a grain mill. They start by brewing extract batches. These beers are well-received, consistent, and usually pretty darn tasty.
After a while, these young brewers want to venture off to the land of all-grain brewing. Let’s face it, one of the biggest reasons why homebrewers venture into homebrewing is to have the freedom to brew when and what they want to brew.
One piece of required equipment that can allow brewers the freedom to brew is their very own grain mill. And this is one area where you dont want to try out all the cheap options first before shelling out for the best. Just get the best, first.
Grain mills also allow Brew in the Bag (BIAB) brewers the possibilities to mash as fine as they wish. Finally, having the ability to crush your own grains fits with buying your grains in bulk.
Why we brew
As consumers, we are constantly restricted to certain perimeters that prohibit us from being able to purchase what we want. If the peaches at the grocery store are not looking too good when I go shopping, my family will have to do without peaches for that particular week.
This applies to the modern homebrewer as well. There have been times when I really want a nice Belgian Blonde Ale and go figure the bottle shop or local brewery does not have a decent selection for your liking.
This is why we brew!
We can brew whenever and whatever we want to brew. This grain mill is a symbol of our brewing freedom.
The convenience of having a grain mill at home
I may be perusing my local homebrew shop and notice there are a bunch of guys all huddled around the front corner of the store. I wonder if I missed the invite to the special party. Then suddenly I realize these guys are all waiting to use the homebrew shop’s only grain mill which now is broken.
Now my goal of getting out of there and being totally prepared for tomorrow’s brew day has gone to the waste side. Now I have all my ingredients for this beer but cannot brew with uncrushed grains. Plus, I do not know when I will have a chance to brew other than tomorrow.
This would not be an issue if there was a grain mill waiting for me at home.
After making the purchase of important items such as a kettle, a burner, a cooler to be converted to a hot liquor tank, and/or BIAB, the grain mill really needs to be considered for purchase. Grain mills offer homebrewers the freedom to brew when and what they want to brew.
The ability to purchase grains at bulk prices really helps me out throughout the year. There is a local homebrew club that opens their group buys to anyone. I take advantage of this great opportunity every year, sometimes multiple times a year.
Another advantage of having a grain mill is to be able to purchase grains at a discount price. Who does not like this? Even if the prices for group buys are still a little steep, splitting the grains and price is always an option.
I like the ability to have grains on-hand ready to be crushed whenever the urge kicks in to brew a batch of delicious beer. These days that urge is in overload.
Having the ability to control your mill gap
Finally, having the control and ability to control your mill gap is tremendously helpful, especially for the BIAB brewers like myself.
One of the many advantages I feel that I have with brewing is having the ability to control the gap on my grain mill. Being able to set the gap to the lowest setting offers me the opportunity to grain as fine as I can, almost to a flour-like consistency.
Due to having my own grain mill, I am afforded the great advantage to set my mill the way I want to and how I see fit for my own brewing. Seeing that I am a BIAB brewer, setting the gap as close as possible serves me well.
The same cannot be said for the grain mill at the local homebrew shop. Seeing that not everyone brews with BIAB, this would not serve everyone’s needs. Owning my own mill gives me that ability to crush that much finer.
The reason this is so important is that of the exposed endosperm that allows me to convert the starch to sugar just that more effectively. Due to this conversion, my efficiency is at a record high 82% consistently over the past year. I am using fewer grains and still making award-winning beer.
Some tips when considering a grain mill:
- always mill outside to keep the dust down
- mill the grain and store in a bucket with a lid in a cool place
- purchase the best homebrew grain mill you can afford along with a drill to power it
- if there is a hopper add-on available, purchase it when you order your mill, you will thank me later
- if you are handy, build a stable table to mount your homebrew grain mill on with a way to stabilize the drill
- on my Cereal Crusher, when the rollers won’t grab the grain, I sometimes run a thin knife across the gap…this either removes an obstruction or forces grain into the gap…I’m not sure which but it works more times than not
- keep your gap gauge in a nice dry place with a light coat of oil…they rust easily
- check your crush as you go and adjust the gap if needed
- keep drill in place with the mill for easy use whenever the urge hits to brew
Read our Barley Crusher Grain Mill Review here.
More Frequently Asked Questions
What are Grain Grinders?
A grain mill works by grinding and processing grain for the manufacture of beer or cereals. The machine has several mills that crush and grind the grains and seeds. The process is vital for removing oils and other internal components from the grains.
You can use the mill to manufacture different types of elements such as oils, cereals, wheat flour, among others. However, it’s more prominent in beer manufacture.
For the production of malt beer, the mill breaks the shell of the seed, releasing the internal content. The inner material is used as the main ingredient and provides the main flavor of the beer. The husk is preserved by the mill and work as a filter to prevent other seeds or substances from affecting the taste of the drink.
The barley mill is similar: it has several rollers that grind and grind the seeds. The mill separates the contents of the husks. The material of the barley accumulates and ferments producing the beer we know.
Why do you need a Grain Grinder?
If you are looking to make draft beer on your own, without buying from the market – with taxes that rise every year – you need to get a grain grinder. Here is what helps.
Save money from buying extracts.
The first reason to buy a mill is money. Barley and processed malt extracts are more expensive than raw materials. It also tends to require additional ingredients to improve the flavor.
The mill will offer you considerable savings by using raw ingredients, and you will not have to buy additives to recover the flavor.
More freedom when making beer.
The mill initially allows you to process any seed and therefore make the recipe you like.
Having a grinder allows you to choose the flavor of the beer, combining different types of cereals.
Chance to charge others for using it.
The possibility of renting the mill to other crafters is viable. The competition requires a mill for the elaboration of its product. You can charge for using it and get a passive income.
Another possibility is to rent it to small stores that process grains from other companies. For example, a grain producer needs a mill to process wheat. They need something you have, and you can take advantage of it.
Grain Grinder’s Functioning and Characteristics
The first function is to crush and grind the various seeds and cereals to extract the content of the seed. To obtain the internal material from the seeds, they use rollers to crush the grain and split the seed vertically.
The current mills have improvements for removing the internal content or endosperm without damaging the shell. As mentioned above, the husk works as a natural filter to process beer. The tank is useful in the maceration process for separating the resulting liquid from the residues.
There are two types of mills on the market. The first is the fine mill, characterized by a small mill whose duration in the extraction process compensates with results. Extraction with this grinder results in more alcohol with superior quality. The fine mill is ideal for breweries that do not move high levels of production.
Secondly, the coarse mill allows time savings in production, but with less efficiency in the extraction of sugars. this grinder is ideal for large breweries that handle high production levels.
It is essential to know the production levels and the mill before acquiring it. The consequences can be fatal to the business if you buy the wrong one.
Grain mills are a worthy investment because they reduce the costs of your ingredients. At the same time, they also help you make sure your product fits your expectations.
What you get is a less expensive production process combined with a more efficient process.
Make your beer more original.
Beer requires a recipe that involves a specific mixture of seeds and cereals. The mill allows you to process the seeds you need to produce the desired results. The beer produced is 100% original, made with your recipe from the start.
The best beer recipes include malt, wheat and barley. Mixing in specific proportions creates unique and original flavors.
Pays itself in less than a year.
The savings and profits involved in using the grain mill to brew beer pay for its cost. The mill allows savings in production costs and equipment maintenance. Another considerable saving is in additives and extracts for production.
Along with the profits, you have a product of superior quality, which generates higher profits from consumption and sales.
You can buy one with other brewers and share the cost.
The mill can be shared, and its use divided into production periods between two or more people.
Dividing costs means savings when purchasing and with maintenance costs. You can have the same production margin at half the price.
Factors to consider before buying one
So, what should you look for when you are buying one? Here is a look at all the factors that matter.
The quality of the raw material is essential in the production process because the taste depends on it.
In the case of grain mills, they have an additional factor. The fragility of the seeds is essential: it can shell can suffer damages during the processing period.
The damaged shell causes defects in the maceration process; this returns a terrible taste and texture.
The size is essential, both for the necessary space, production level and the type of beer to produce. Smaller, two-roll mills are better for producing beer in small quantities.
The larger mills are used for mass production and at an industrial level. They let you crush and produce more in less time, yet they’re more cumbersome.
You have to consider the cost for acquiring and maintaining the mill. The acquisition cost is essential; if you don’t have the capital you won’t be able to buy it. The cost of maintenance is vital in the long term; you must determine which one generates fewer expenses to allow more profits.
Can you buy it with other people?
You can find other people willing to buy one without too many inconveniences. The shared purchase generates considerable savings purchasing and maintaining the equipment.
All you need to do after getting one is to organize and plan the production days to avoid conflicts.
What are the Best Grain Grinders for Homebrewing?
Looking to find the best grain grinders for your needs? We bring to you some of the more popular choices that you can find today, and look at what they have to offer.
Barley Crusher W/ 7 Lb.-Capacity Hopper
In Conclusion, having my own grain mill has paid for itself already.
The grain grinder comes in useful for the production of beer allowing to process the materials more economically and effectively. The mill can come in various presentations and sizes. Each one recommended for a specific volume of production.
It is advisable to evaluate various aspects before buying a mill such as its price, materials to use, among others. You need to be aware of its quality and how much value you can get from it before buying a grinder. Buying a cheap one can greatly disrupt the quality of your beer. Low-quality grinders tend to leave large lumps due to a lower power; which is unpleasant when brewing beer.
The homebrewing hobby is not a cheap hobby by any means. It is expensive. I firmly believe that the one hundred dollars that I spent on my Cereal Crusher about four years ago is the single best investment, next to my brew bag.
Having the freedom to brew what I want, when I want, and save money all while participating in a rad hobby that keeps me happy. I could not be happier with the beers that I am producing these days.
Former President of my homebrew club, Plainfield Ale and Lager Enthusiasts (PALE) in the western suburbs of Chicago, IL. I brew on my BIAB system with my incredibly patient and understanding wife, adorable 9 year old daughter, and 12 year old brew dog.