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That millet ale experiment, in glorious technicolor - oldbloke's mutterings
May 28th, 2012
11:45 pm
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That millet ale experiment, in glorious technicolor
So, following the success of my feasibility study last year, I finally got around to:
Millet Experiment #1 Trying to make 1 gallon.
12oz of millet malted

4hr soak, spread over muslin, rinsed every 8 hours, transferred to improvised sprouting jars (Kilners with muslin over the neck) as that didn't seem to be working too well.
After 4 or 5 days the rootlets were getting quite long and some acrospires were as long as the grain (I hear you stop with barley when the acrospire is half the length of the grain).
Dried slowly in a very low oven.

I roasted half of it at 70C for about 40 minutes.
I finally ended up with this:

Ground it in a coffee mill, added it to a pan with a litre of water, and attempted a stepped infusion mash in the oven (couldn't get good temperarure control on the hob last time).
Tried for a protease rest at 50, beta amylase at 62, aplha amylase at 68, mashout at 78.
Turned out it was just as hard to control temp in the oven as it was on the hob. Oh well.
Chucked a bit of shop-bought amylase in between the protease and amylase rests.
Next time maybe just the simple single temp mash, though if I do a 4 or 5 gallon batch I can use my proper boiler.
Strained it through a muslin-lined sieve into a pan on the hob and got it to a nice boil, chucked in about 18g of hops, boiled about 45 minutes.
Sieved into another pan, made up to 4.5l with cold water.
Gravity seemed to be only 1.012 or so, so it looks like I got hardly any sugars out of the grain, despite all that effort. Disappointing. Need better control over the sprouting/malting/mashing, and more research on temps and timings.
So added some sugar to get the gravity up, and transferred it to a demi with some nutrient, weeny bit of hop extract, and half a pack of Munton's Gold. Fermented nicely:

After what felt like ages, I decided it wasn't going to clear:

Local temperatures have been all over the place, and I probably got a lot of stuff into the FV that I shouldn't have. So I bottled it:

Then left it somewhere not-too-cold for a fortnight, then the garage for a fortnight. Still not clear - looks a bit like one of those deliberately cloudy ciders:

And without flash:

Brought a couple up and stuck them in the fridge for a day to see if any more solids would fall out - not so you'd notice. Tried one, not terribly impressed (sorry about the focus):

Definitely beer, but a bit overhopped. In a pub you wouldn't not drink it, but you'd check out the other taps next round.
The second I allowed to warm up from fridge-chill level and it was much better. More flavour, balancing the hops better. Still a bit thin though.
A week later it tasted better again, slightly fruity, mellower hops, but still a bit thin. Quite nice in its own way though, and L likes it.
So, yes, beer that's recognisably beer can be made with millet. But I have a way to go before it'd be my first choice.
Next time I'm going to get my millet from a different source - I think part of the problem was inconsistent malting, it was getting a bit old. And I need to crack it to the right size so I don't get lots of millet flour through into the FV.
But before I try again, I'm going to have a go at the new Gone With The Wheat kit, then I want to try malting some corn and making ale out of that.

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