Should I buy (or ask for) a Grain Mill?

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Should I buy (or ask for) a Grain Mill?

Post by 2trout » 4 years ago

Im taking a prompt from Pistol Patch on this one.

A grain mill has been on my wish list for some time now. I get along fine without one, but I DO see the value in having a mill at my home. Let me start with what I don't like about not having a grain mill.

First, I have to buy my grain where I can grind it (or have it ground). I choose to buy locally whenever possible and I do have the Home Brew Store in my area, so it is not a huge deal. However, I don't have the flexibility to run in to the store, say hello to Phill (the Owner), grab my grains and go (or have my wife stop in.) I don't always have the time to stand around and grind at the store.

Second, Grain prepackaged in 1 lb bags at my local store. When I need just part of a 1 lb bag I really like to take my time measuring so I don't screw up. Sometimes at the store there are others who need to use the mill, and in my rushing about and chatting I have screwed up the grain bill badly.

Third, I can buy some bulk base grains at a significant discount locally. But I don't want to have to run down to the Home Brew Shop to grind. So now my beer is more expensive than it needs to be.

BUT
Purchasing a grain mill requires money, research, storage space, AND is digging me deeper into this hobby.

I'm Interested in other opinions here.

trout
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Post by bionut » 4 years ago

A Corona mill isn't too expensive. You will save a lot of money from bulk grains after that. I personally use an old cast iron mill, i reckon that it is at least 40 years old. Maybe i will take some photos when a will get home.

In other words, go for it!

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Post by thughes » 4 years ago

Do it! I got mine when I found a local guy selling grain in bulk for $1/pound.

Get a corona mill, shouldn't pay more than $30 USD. Here's a few:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/ ... dition=new

Once you get your mill, go here and learn how to trick it out:
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/my-ugly ... ion-90849/


I used a corona mill for the first few years I brewed, worked awesome! I recently spent a significant amount of $ on a roller mill/crusher that did absolutley nothing to improve my brewing. Get a corona and don't look back. (Want to buy a nice roller mill?)

---Todd
Last edited by thughes on 28 Nov 2013, 06:51, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by alanem » 4 years ago

I was a was once a bit hesitant about a Coronna, I wasn't sure of them after reading so much on google, some positive some negative, but after reading reports in these BIABrewer forums from people who know what they're talking about, plus a few questions I bought one, and then bought a second hand drill to power it, I now swear by it.
the reason I felt I needed a grinder was the simple reason that I live in rural Victoria and found with the buying of small ground packs and the $12 freight it was pushing my budget way up and beyond reason.
Now I buy a 25kg bag of base malt, which lasts a long time with my brewing quantities, then I buy the other grains etc. in 10kg packs and pickup when I go to town, now I have the convenience of brewing whenever the need occurs, without the ordering and the waiting for it to arrive, it's so much cheaper and the grinding is no hassle whatsoever once set up. Go for it!
I used to spill more than I drink these days!

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Post by mally » 4 years ago

FWIW I buy bulk grain that is already ground at the shop.
When it gets delivered I weight out 1KG and vacuum seal them.
Easier to store, lasts a little longer than keeping ground grains in bulk, but they are ready to use when needed.
See this thread here for old stored grains.

I was also going to say they are weighed correctly... but, what I should say is that all the bags will be at the same weight (all the pre-packed bags I have previously bought were over their weight, and wildly different too).

Having said that, I do still think about getting a mill and having control over another aspect of the hobby. :salute:
Last edited by mally on 28 Nov 2013, 16:57, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by BobBrews » 4 years ago

I bought a mill so that I could buy grain in bulk. I buy 50 pound sacks of two row and whatever other variety is in season. As I need them, I just scoop out what I need. The grain stays in my garage in plastic food bins. If I am brewing the next day and want to get ahead. I may grind the grain before hand. If so, I bag it and store it in the refrigerator. I can grind dark gran separately from the two row and add them to the mash at different times.

The mill is run by my old variable speed corded drill. I have left the mill on it's original setting and the grind is perfect! I am very happy with the whole grinding process! :thumbs:
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Post by 2trout » 4 years ago

OK I going for it? Who's going to stop me!

trout
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Post by BobBrews » 4 years ago

2trout,

Go for it! Just get a decent size hopper. This is the one I have http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/barl ... opper.html I like the 15 pound hopper. You can make your own hopper fairly easily. The drill works just fine. Good luck! :thumbs:
Last edited by BobBrews on 29 Nov 2013, 09:19, edited 2 times in total.
tap 1 Raspberry wine
tap 2 Bourbon Barrel Porter
tap 3 Czech Pilsner
tap 4 Triple IPA 11% ABV

Pipeline: Mulled Cider 10% ABV

http://cheesestradamus.com/ Brewers challenge!


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Grain Mill

Post by PistolPatch » 4 years ago

First note to Trout: Go straight to end of post!
2trout wrote:OK I'm going for it? Who's going to stop me!
Me! :lol: :lol: :lol:

Just joking trout but do consider the following...

On the Mechanical Side

1. Todd's mentioned the corona mill worked well for him and I would trust his advice. My only experience of a hand driven mill though was at a mate's place where we had to use his one to crush 11 kilos (24 lbs). We were both drunk before we even started the brew, it took so long. Seriously. (Good day but ;)).

2. If you want a bigger mill, then you want to do it properly. Don't get some mill with small rollers. My mill has two big rollers and does a beautiful 'squash'. Such a mill will cost you and that cost is just the start.

3. A bigger mill can be a major DIY project to motorise and also much more expensive, especially if you consider time, than the mill itself. I had to think on saving space with my mill and came up with a design that is pretty cool (I'll post pics later on the weekend here). But, I was also extremely lucky that, at the time, I was able to buy a very heavy slow 'mixer' drill very cheaply. The ratios etc worked out perfectly.

4. And then you have to make a hopper.

5. And then you have to have scales.

Setting up a big mill can take a lot of time and money.

On the Practical Side

1. A mill is not going to save you that many trips to the store. I have about three base malts here and a lot of specialty malts but there is always something I don't have when I go to brew. (Usually missing some hops or yeast as well and I do stock up :roll:)

2. A mill and grain is going to take up space. You also need to consider buying a lot of plastic 'tupperware'? of varying sizes to store your specialty grains in.

3. Label your grains with the date you purchase them. You won't believe how quickly you build up a selection of grains that you have no idea why you bought in the first place :scratch:.

4. False economy: We often use cost savings on grain purchases to justify the our purchase of a mill and this can be true but often it is not. For example, our recipe needs 350 grams of chocolate malt so we buy a 500 gram pack. The remaining 150 grams either does not get used or is not enough to do a second brew so we have to drive to the shop or have some mailed again.

What's your Local/Mail Order Home Brew Shop like?

Pre-ordering stuff via email or online and then picking it up or having it delivered can be a real asset. For a start, it forces you to think through your brews in advance. On the grain side, many shops will only charge you for the actual weight of grains used in the recipe so you are not paying for grain that you are not using.

Furthermore, some shops will crush and vacuum pack the recipe for you. This will last for ages.

If you have access to a good home brewing shop, I'd really think twice before going the mill route.

My Situation

I'm quite proud of my mill set-up but my purchase of it, maybe 5 years ago, has not turned out to be a time or money saver. When I brew now, I usually brew the equivalent of 4 batches in one go. I have to pre-plan them and, of course, I have to go the shop or order grain online. I can use my local shop's mill for free so I'm not really gaining anything by having my mill at home. If you really wanted to save money, you could actually buy a bag of grain yourself, even if only brewing once a month, and just take the grain you want to crush to the shop each time you brew but who wants a bag of grain hanging around for 5 months and who really wants to go that far?

What I'm saying is the you don't need grain mill to be a real brewer :lol:,
PP

Second note to Trout: I just know you are going to get a mill regardless of what is written above so really looking forward to seeing pics of your new grain mill after Christmas. Good on you :thumbs: ;) .
Last edited by PistolPatch on 29 Nov 2013, 20:11, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by Epimetheus » 4 years ago

thughes wrote:I used a corona mill for the first few years I brewed, worked awesome! I recently spent a significant amount of $ on a roller mill/crusher that did absolutley nothing to improve my brewing. Get a corona and don't look back. (Want to buy a nice roller mill?)

---Todd
Well, that settles my desire to switch from a Corona mill to a roller mill. The roller is more convenient because it can be permanently connected to a motor with a V-belt, and it process grain much faster. I will stick with the Corona until I can hit the proper gravity consistently.
Last edited by Epimetheus on 01 Dec 2013, 01:09, edited 2 times in total.
I should have thought of that.


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Post by PistolPatch » 4 years ago

Epimetheus wrote:I will stick with the Corona until I can hit the proper gravity consistently.
Epi, don't believe any home brewer that says they hit their gravities consistently. No matter how experienced they come across as, they are in a make-believe world between theory and reality and most don't actually even have the theory right.

For example, you will have read on other forums time and again that you can crush as fine as you like with BIAB but that is not true at all. You will also read that someone always gets 75% efficiency which is uninformative for a start and impossible, no matter which way we read it, to finish.

You, as a home brewer, should not be expecting consistent gravities from your brews. At the scale we deal with, it is impossible. Do an advanced search of posts done by me that contain the word 'average' and you should find some good info on this I think. If you find a particularly good post, PM me please.

:peace:
PP
Last edited by PistolPatch on 01 Dec 2013, 23:36, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by Epimetheus » 4 years ago

"Epi, don't believe any home brewer that says they hit their gravities consistently."
Thanks, I will definitely take that into consideration.

There seem to be variations in the malt modification between one brand and another and between grains, I do not check pH because the strips have been ineffective so far and I have not gotten a meter. The mash, boil, and chill procedure changes each time I upgrade equipment.

Anyway, back on topic, I'll stick with the Corona mill until I am more practiced throughout the entire process.
I should have thought of that.

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Post by BobBrews » 4 years ago

Epimetheus,

In home brewing there are all sorts of variables. Time, Temperature, pH, grain viability, grain crush, boil vigor, air humidity (evaporation rate). Don't get caught up in expecting stable numbers. It rarely happens. You can gain some stability by using BIABacus. Recording every measurable thing you can and comparing the resulting beers. You must be rigorous in writing everything down including the taste of the resulting beer. You will forget once the beers start coming off your assembly line. They will start overlapping and become a hazy memory quite soon. I am hazy most of the day.

In short (to late!) Enjoy the ride on bubbles of happiness that you brewed. Just don't expect everything to be perfect. If it is perfect? You did something wrong!
tap 1 Raspberry wine
tap 2 Bourbon Barrel Porter
tap 3 Czech Pilsner
tap 4 Triple IPA 11% ABV

Pipeline: Mulled Cider 10% ABV

http://cheesestradamus.com/ Brewers challenge!

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