You mean there are other uses for grain?

So in the course of pursuing my brewing hobby–um, excuse me, it’s my craft–I have picked up a few new tools that are multi taskers.  One of my favourite is my beefy, Mexican made grain mill.  Its original intention, so i understand, was to mill corn, so you can imagine that it’s pretty heavy duty.  The good people at Niagara Traditions home brew supply store in Buffalo use one, hooked up to a motor, to crack grain for brewing.   You see, in brewing you need to crack, but not pulverize, the malted barley so the water can mix with the starchy goodness inside, and convert it to fermentable sugar.   Mine works well, and after a few tweaks, and a serendipitous discovery of a lug nut that fits the auger, I have managed to hook my drill up to the turning mechanism.

The mill with various and sundry other brewing tools.

So instead of hand cranking for a few hours to mill a few lbs of barley, it now takes a few minutes.  Okay, the hours was an exaggeration, but it was a long, and onerous task.

The grain goes in the top, gets cranked out through the bottom, and falls through the hole into a bucket (not shown). You can see the nut I rigged up to attach to the drill. Normally there would be a large and impressive handle there.

Now, with a mill like this, I could easily begin milling other grains.  I could easily make whole wheat flour.  That is one step away from home made bread.  Yeast, water grain.  Sounds like the fundamentals for beer?  It turns out my good friend James, a fellow alcohol scholar located in the lovely city of Bristol, England, has taken up the bread making craft.  It made me think that this is the next craft for me.  It has some advantages over beer making

  1. you can consume a lot of it all day and not get drunk (this could be a disadvantage)
  2. you can share it with weird teetotalling friends who think beer is the devil’s work.  Actually, I can’t call people like that friends.  Let’s call them “colleagues in my department who are total downers at faculty parties.”
  3. you don’t have to know as much about water chemistry, starch conversion, or sanitation.  Especially sanitation, the most important part of brewing.
  4. fewer tools.  My brewing hobby–um, craft–is taking up increasingly large parts of my basement, and hours of my day.  This is not a complaint, it’s just an observation.
  5. instant gratification: you can consume it immediately after it is done.

It makes for some compelling arguments to add bread making to my craft roster.  However, there is one big reason why I don’t think I’ll be doing this any time soon.

  1. it will cut into my beer-making time.

About danmalleck

Medical historian and jack-of-all-trades curmudgeon. I tend to ramble about politics, social incivility, and our self-centred culture more interested in buying the next cool ringtone or LED TV than actively engaging in the sorts of discussions and issues that matter. The more opportunity we have to buy more stuff, the less concern there is, it seems, in politics, social justice and let's face it, basic human decency, unless those things actually can save us money or get us more things to show how awesome we are through displaying our material wealth. And I like to brew beer, make cheese, and put food in jars.
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