When most people start their homebrewing journey it's generally with a basic equipment setup and extract beer kits. Not many people dive right into all grain brewing, even less invest in a grain mill right away. As you gain more experience in homebrewing it's natural to want to begin building your own recipes and experimenting with different grain bills.
Adding a grain mill to your homebrewing setup has several advantages:
- You can purchase your whole grains in bulk and save money.
- You no longer have to wait in line to mill your grains at a local homebrew shop.
- You can mill right before your mash to ensure the freshest grain possible, and avoid oxidation.
- You can set your mill gap preference, allowing you to mill your grain to your desired consistency.
What To Consider When Milling Grain
Your grain mill is going to one thing: crush your grain. While that sounds simple, there are a few things to keep in mind when preparing your grain for brewing.
- Consistency. As mentioned above, you can set your mill gap to different settings which affects how fine your grain is crushed. The finer the grain, the more efficient your mashing will be. However, a finely milled grain can also cause stuck mash during the sparging process. Finding a middle ground between too fine and too coarse is ideal. You want your grains to be finely mashed but with most of the husks still in tack to create a good grain bed for sparging.
- Proper Storage. Mill your grains into a bucket and store with the lid on tight. Crushed grains are susceptible to oxidation when they come in contact with air so keep them sealed tight. While not required, it is ideal to use crushed grain within a few days of milling.
- Invest in a Hopper Extension. When you're ready to purchase a grain mill, look for one that has an optional add-on hopper and get it if it doesn't break your budget. The extension will allow the mill to hold much more grain and streamline your process.
- Proper Maintenance. No one likes cleaning equipment but it's a necessary evil. Properly cleaning and lubricating your grain mill will extend it's life and make sure you get the best results. Depending on how often you brew, this process only needs to be done a few times a year.
- Mill Outside. Crushing grain is a dusty job. If you have the option, mill your grain outside to avoid having to clean a layer of dust off everything when you're done.