You mean like smoke them like this???
To be fair he could smoke just about anyone in a race.
Anyway on to smoking malt.
When smoking malt I found three things to be important. First is the temperature in the smoker. Second is having a low moisture level in the malt while smoking the malt. Third is the type of wood that you use. I’ll go over my process and then address the three key issues. I’ll also go over a few other things and throw in my recipe. I found that the recipe is the easy part. Smoked beers are really made in the smoker.
When I smoke my malt I set my smoker up for a cold smoke, see the following picture. I use my small Webber grill as the fire box and run some ducking into the smoker to transfer the smoke. I’ll talk more about cold smoking when I go over the temperature.
(Yes, I know there is match lite charcoal in this picture. Normally I would never use it however it was on sale and a bonus fuel points item when I bought it, $.15 per gallon if I remember correctly. Normally I use natural lump and start the fire with a chimney)
To hold the malt I form a pan out of screen that will fit in the main body of my smoker. I use screen similar to a metal screen that you would find on a window. My smoker will hold around six pounds of malt at a time.
With this setup I typically smoke my malt for around four hours. During this time I rotate malt every 30-45 minutes, whenever I would check on the fire. I just mix the malt around so that the malt gets equal exposure the smoke. I like the intensity and complexity of the smoke that I get from this length of time.
After running several batches through the smoker I found that the temperature is the most important thing to watch. I keep the temperature under 120 F, closer to 100 F if possible. This is why I set my smoker up for a cold smoke. I also try to pick a weekend where it’s going to be cooler to help keep the temperature down. I found the if the temperature goes above 120 F I would get some unpleasant flavors and aromas. The flavors and aromas were similar to ash and burnt wood.
While smoking the malt you do need a low level of moisture in the malt. This helps the smoke adhere to the malt. You do not want the malt to be wet just slightly damp. To accomplish this I use a spray bottle filled with water on a fine mist setting. During the first two hours I mist the malt every 30-45 minutes, I do this after rotating the malt. I stop misting the malt with about two hours left in the smoking process. You need to stop this so that the malt has time to dry out before being pulled out of the smoker.
The wood that you use in the smoker is really a personal preference however I feel very strongly about using fruit woods. Apple is my house wood that I use for almost everything. I like the subtly sweet flavor and aroma that come from using fruit woods. I suggest against using woods like hickory because of their association with bacon. Yes the style guidelines say that the aroma can be “bacon-like” however I don’t want that aroma in my beer. I want the aroma to be more BBQ than bacon. In the batches were I used hickory wood the flavor reminded everyone of bacon but not BBQ. Sure when using fruit woods people still say bacon, but people also say BBQ.
Those are the three big things to watch out for. One other thing to make sure you do is to let the malt thoroughly cool before storing in a closed container. A paper grocery bag works fine. I sealed the malt up once and the heat formed condensation. When I went to grind the malt it just turned to mush. We wound up drying the malt in the oven and it produced a WONDERFUL beer, but I would rather not go through that again. Also some people say that you need to give the malt a week or so to rest after smoking but I have found this to not be true. I like to use the malt on the following day if at all possible. I have never tried smoking and brewing on the same day so I cannot comment on that. Normally when I have my cold smoker already setup I’m smoking several things to my attention is diverted to that. I found that when the smoked malt is used quickly it is much more intense and the complexity is greater. After waiting a week I would never get the same level of smoke, for the same weight of smoked malt, and the aroma and flavor were very one note.
when I brew I make a 6 gallon batch and transfer 5.5 gallons to my fermentor. I also have an efficiency of around 65%
My recipe is
5.25# Two Row (39.3%)
5.25# Smoked Two Row (39.3%)
1.5# Dark Munich (11.2%)
.75# Cara Munich (5.6%)
.25# Carafoam (1.9%) I add it to everything for head retention
.25# Melanoidin (1.9%)
.125# Black Patent (.8%)
Mash at 152 F for 60 minutes
Boil for 60 minutes
enough clean bittering hop at 60 minutes to get around 30 IBUs
1 oz Tettnanger at 10 minutes
I make the beer as a lager and I use WLP833 German Bock Lager for all of my lagers. If you can’t do lager you can use WLP060 American Ale Yeast Blend. While the lager yeast works best the ale version works. WLP060 is super clean, I think it’s cleaner than WLP001.
I hope that helps. Also remember to taste the malt during the smoking process. That will let you know when it’s reached the level of smoke that you want. If you have any other questions I’m more than willing to help out.