Brewing malt the change in season and milling optimisation


Crisp Malt


As the freshly harvested barley makes its way through the Malthouse we want to make sure that you’re prepared for any changes that might be thrown up as you transition from crop 2017 to crop 2018. That’s why we’ve worked with our master maltsters and brewers to prepare this handy guide to the season changeover. This guide is also particularly useful when you change over base malt generally.


As you may well have noticed, this year has been an unusual one in terms of weather. While we all basked in the sunshine the extended period of drought and heat produced an unusual and extreme growing season for our precious barley.

Barley gets planted at two times in the UK; one crop in October/November of the preceding year (referred to as winter barley) and one in the March/April of the crop year (known as spring barley). This year, the winter barley got a good soak in the wet winter and spring and so got an excellent start to growing in the new year. This also meant that when the warm weather did start, the plants had a good water base to survive through the drought.

The spring barley didn’t have as much of a fighting chance. Because the rain was prolonged throughout Jan-March, the grounds were saturated and farmers struggled to get the spring barley planted due to poor ploughing conditions and flooded fields. The warm weather started soon after this and so the spring barley plants didn’t get a great start and struggled through the drought.

Fortunately for Crisp, the North Norfolk area around our Great Ryburgh Maltings is well suited to winter barley. Indeed, we’ve been working with local farmers to grow barley locally for almost 150 years. While this is a relatively small crop in the wider UK market, we’ve found it to be very reliable for making ale malt and once again it has returned a good crop with all the key characteristics for producing excellent beer; namely low nitrogen/ protein and good starch levels for extract. Winter barley requires less water and also helps to reduce erosion by stabilising the soil over the winter months.

This all being said, the hot weather has meant that there were simply less barley plants that came to maturity and the result is a drop in yield for both winter and spring crops. This has been mirrored in crops across Northern Europe, coupled with additional demand for feed leading to significant increases in the European grain markets. We have minimised these through having strong relationships with our all-important British farmers up and down the UK.

What’s changed?

Our lives as maltsters, brewers and distillers would be much simpler if the barley didn’t change from year to year. While we do our utmost to iron out inconsistencies from crop to crop, there are always going to be subtle changes in the biology of the plant which can affect the way the malt behaves in the mashtun. We’ve written up some of the changes that we see in the barley and how they might affect your brewhouse practices.


Corn size

The corn size can vary depending on the variety and weather. We are looking for plump grains that will take up water well in malting. At Crisp we remove the small corns (another that passes through a 2.25mm screen) and this ensures we get an even malting of the batch. If the corn size distribution has changed it means the milling might also change. On the bagging line we are constantly checking the grist fractions by performing a sieve analysis. If you mill your own malt then this is a simple test that you can also perform. Too much milling and you could end up with higher extract, over attenuated beers and a stuck mash. Too little milling and it will be lower extract and you will be leaving sugars behind in the grain. Take a look at our quick guide on how to optimise your grist.


Friability is a measure of how easily the malt will mill. The more friable the malt the less energy required to break it apart. We often see malts from the continent and some part of the UK with poor friability (in the 80s). We would ideally want friability to be in the 90s. This is an indication of good malting practice. A change in friability means your mill setting may need to be adjusted. As mentioned above, we recommend a simple grist analysis to check your milling is optimised.

Nitrogen/ Protein Level

The barley plant can put its energy into making starch or protein, more commonly referred to in the UK by its base element nitrogen. Generally, when the nitrogen goes up, the starch goes down and we lose extract. There is a very specific sweet spot for ale and lager malts for nitrogen content, namely 1.4-1.6% N2 for ale and  up to 1.75% for lager.

A good practice at the changeover in season is to optimise your kettle finings. This will ensure you’re taking enough protein out of the boil which will help with yeast health and also ensure bright, shelf stable beers. Contact your finings supplier such as Murphy & Sons for advice on performing the simple finings optimisation tests.


As mentioned above, the extract may vary due to the protein content of the malt. We work very hard to ensure a consistent extract from season to season and throughout the year. It’s always good to periodically read your certificate of analysis to check if the extract has changed. You should always work with the “AS IS” extract not the “DRY” extract for making gravity calculations. If you’re unsure of working out target gravity we can provide a handy calculator spreadsheet.

Diastatic Power (DP)

The diastatic power is a measure of the enzyme activity in the grain; the higher the DP the quicker the conversion rate from starch to sugar. A discussion of controlling in enzymes in the brewhouse is lengthy but if your DP has increased (by a certain % or amount?) then you may have to increase your mash temperature or decrease your mash time. It might be a good idea to carry out a starch test using iodine to check that you have full conversion of starch into sugar. As soon as this process is complete you can run off.



At Crisp we monitor the grist fractions on every single batch of crushed malt that passes through our mill. It is only by doing this, that we can optimise the balance between run-off and extract for our brewers and distillers. We do this by using a simple grist box as shown. If you mill your own malt then this is an essential test to perform every few weeks and especially when moving from one crop season to another, or from one base malt to another.

The method is simple:

  • take a representative sample of grist from your mill
  • place about 100g of grist in the box, replace the lid and shake for 2 minute from side to side
  • weight out the fractions in each layer of the box (we find a soft bristled paint brush helps get all the malt out the box)
  • Sum the weights to arrive at a total and calculate the % fractions in each layer of the box.

These are the fractions we work to at Crisp for crushed malt but if you operate a lauter tun then you may wish to go a touch finer

Sieve Crisp Base Crushed Malt Spec Crisp Distilling Spec Lauter Tun Spec
Coarse (above 1.98mm screen) 50% 20% 40%
Fine (below the 1.98mm screen) 40% 70% 30%
Flour (below the 0.212mm screen) 10% 10% 30%


Regular maintenance of your mill, including monitoring of the wear on the roll pack will ensure consistent mill performance.

If you’re in any doubt about your milling performance then please speak to our technical team who will be happy to assist.

The 2018 Malt Harvest sees malt prices increase to levels not seen since 2012

The 2018 Malt Harvest

Malt Harvest 2018

Do you monitor Wheat Futures?

We don’t normally but if you don’t recognise the term …then I’ll explain it’s the European benchmark for setting prices on wheat or more importantly malting barley for brewers.

UK Maltsters are likely to buy around 1.9 million tonnes of barley!!  to supply distillers who look for nitrogen contents below 1.6/1.65% and brewers below 1.8/1.85%.

 There is two categories;

1. Winter Varieties:

Flagon, Talisman, Venture, Craft

 2.Spring Varieties:

Concerto, KWS Irena, Laureate, RGT Planet, Propino, Chanson

 If you started a brewery in recent years you won’t have experienced much change in malting barley pricing or maybe you’ve been in the brewing industry for many years and you have experienced malt prices vary greatly, on occasion it falls in your favour and on other occasions it doesn’t, well 2019 malt prices aren’t going to be in anyone’s favour.

Geterbrewed distribute malt for Crisp Malt throughout Ireland and have in recent years increased the volume of malt they sell significantly, despite volumes increasing significantly the incoming malt harvest is going to see malt prices rise to levels not experienced before by many brewers

With no break in the long hot and dry weather that has dominated the weather pattern over NW Europe since early May, this kick started an early start to harvest of winter barley

Harvesting of winter barley started in the last few days of June. Despite the balmy weather conditions, most reports of both yield and quality are favourable despite what was expected. Winter malting barley grain nitrogens are in general low, with most samples through the Crisp laboratories being 1.65% or less. Grain size is variable and in general smaller than the 5 year average, with a wide range (65-95%) in barley over the 2.5mm sieve. Maris Otter performed relatively well, particularly on chalk soils, all Flagon samples seen so far are useable, Venture suffering another year of poor screenings and Craft producing the best samples in terms of grain size.

Whilst the weather has limited the potential of the winter sown crops, it is having a devastating effect on the potential of spring sown crops and in particular malting barley in NW Europe. Yield reductions of over 50% are talked about for many Scandinavian and north German crops, whilst further east and in UK there will be a significant reduction in output. Further compounding the yield issue will be the grain quality, with high or very high grain nitrogen levels likely in all of the drought-affected areas. The consequence of this will be a further sharp movement upwards in malting barley prices as traders in particular scramble to cover their short positions and first-hand sellers enter the market attempting to buy back some of their sales.

The Malt Harvest

With a lack of rain and soaring temperatures in northern Europe, the consequence is early harvests, low yields, quality issues (particularly in the malting barley crop) and price levels last seen in 2012. The hot and dry conditions have also had an impact on grain production in Russia and Ukraine.

Crop Prospects UK

Harvesting of winter malting barley in England was finished by mid-July with the majority of it off farm and into maltsters and merchants stores already. Whilst yields are at best only up to the 5 year average or slightly lower, quality is very good. Grain nitrogens are slightly lower than last year whilst grain size is also slightly smaller, in part reflecting the moisture levels 2% below average of the harvested barley. 

With the un-broken dry weather, harvesting of spring barley in England started straight after the winter crop, coming at the same time as winter wheat and oil seed rape on many farms. Due to the wide planting window this spring and the difficult growing conditions, it is no surprise that yields and quality vary enormously not just from area to area but from one farm to the next.

So far the best quality samples came coming from areas where the underlying chalk which was saturated during the winter and early spring, allowed spring crops to send roots down to access water and continue growing during the hot dry period from the beginning of May.

Grain nitrogens are in general lower than was feared but still significantly higher than in past seasons, however most of the crop produced in southern and eastern England should find a malting home as maltsters raise their nitrogen intake limits. Further north in England, reports are of a more ‘difficult’ crop.

Spring barley harvesting in Scotland showed that grain nitrogens are higher than the industry has been accustomed to in recent years and that yields are lower than the 5 year average, again due to lack of rainfall. Max level of Grain nitrogen will have been increased in certain areas especially Scotland and Distilling levels will most definitely be increased.

For EU Harvest reports, the summary isn’t good! Throughout Scandinavia, Poland, Czech and Slovakia the story is the same: low to very low yields and high protein. It is thought likely that for the EU to be barely self-sufficient, barley with up to 13% protein (2.08% TN) will have to be accepted by the malting and brewing industry. Only France and southern Germany have reasonable to good crops.

EU wheat markets have soared in the past month as the forecast size of the EU and Russian crops continue to decline. Feed barley supplies, already tight at a world level, have been further reduced by the drought and now the first downgrading of EU corn prospects is happening. These rising feed grain markets have been mainly responsible for the dramatic rise in malting barley prices, however it is now the overall supply / demand question that his adding additional strength to the malting barley market. Malting barley prices for ‘standard’ quality have now risen significantly.

Competition for the small quantities of low protein barley that is available from maltsters supplying the distilling, craft beer and other specialist markets is intense and will only add further upwards price pressure for specific varieties, origins and qualities.

So what does it mean for Crisp Malt Customers, unfortunately prices will increase but the quality will remain high spec, the management team at Crisp have taken the decision to put a clear focus on the quality of the malt and to continue to produce high spec malt so they have had to give the farmers a much increased price and that has to be passed on. Geterbrewed have managed to increase volumes greatly which has slightly mitigated that increase but you can trust the quality!!

Hop Contracts

There was a necessary price adjustment in the hop industry this year, we saw a lot of the most sought after varieties drop in price. This wasn’t all good news as some brewers and hop merchants had contracted at a higher price. That meant selling at a very low margin and on some occasions selling at a loss.


Geterbrewed brought some incredible value to the microbrewery community and used their buying power to drive down pricing for the homebrew community too but times are changing.

The hop harvest was good in some regions but equally it was very poor in others, drought and other issues have caused some difficulties and we expect a rise in the cost of alpha/bittering hops especially from Germany going into 2019.

If you benefited from the lower hop prices and didn’t have a contract then well done and hopefully you enjoyed that rarity from the hop industry but don’t be fooled into thinking this will happen again next year, the availability of the most sought after hops is going to be reduced.

The structure of how hops are distributed is changing, thankfully Geterbrewed invested significantly in increasing our cold storage this year and are recognised as leading the way in Ireland as the number one hop supplier. That means we are trusted to distribute as we have the ability to correctly handle hops.

Geterbrewed have also built some special relationships with hop farmers that allows us to buy hops direct from the farm.

If you own a brewery and want to secure a consistent supply then we recommend you get yourself a hop contract. Geterbrewed will provide hop contracts for hop supply in Ireland allowing you to keep pricing and costs stable and consistent

It is highly unlikely that there will be the same amount of surplus hops available in the coming year. Many brewers now spot buy hops as they are constantly changing recipes and say they don’t need a consistent supply of the same hop varieties.

I would urge caution with this approach, if you want to have a look at securing some hops for your brewery for next year, its a good time to talk now don’t leave it too late to get a hop contract.


Brewiks Microbrewery Equipment

Geterbrewed have built a solid relationship with the Brewiks Team and we are very proud to distribute the range of Brewiks Microbrewery Equipment throughout Ireland and the UK

Brewiks Mix Mashing Vessel

We genuinely regard our Brewiks customers as being part of the Brewiks Family, I don’t say that as a sales pitch, we are in the business of building relationships with the brewers that trust us with their money for a Brewiks Microbrewery, our friends that run the Brewiks factory are creating a global brand recognised as leading the way with innovative technology and strong and robust equipment, they want you to be treated like family.

It’s in our interest to make sure that your dream of owning your own brewery becomes a reality and that it is also a success. We have the in house experience and talent to help at every step of the way, we have our own brewery so we know what it takes to make a brewery a success, we also only use Brewiks equipment in our own brewery and we have been pushing that equipment hard for years now.

Brewiks Microbrewery Equipment

Running your own brewery isn’t easy but it can be very rewarding. Geterbrewed feel we now have the abaility to offer complete packages, these packages look at all aspects of the brewery, from recipe development and water profiles right through to being able to offer bottling and kegging solutions. We also offer special pricing structures on your ingredients, that means access to the best pricing on malt, hops and yeast.

So why Brewiks?

To me that is simple, its impressive brewing equipment and that is backed up with the volume of packaged product being higher than competitive brands, why is this so important, in my opinion this is the key to success as you need volume packaged product to ensure your revenue and margins are high enough to allow you to grow your business. So if you wrote a business plan on having 500 litres of packed beer per batch at a high abv then we deliver that!

The Brewiks equipment is plug and brew, very minimal set up costs in terms of preparing the location for the equipment

The ability to produce high abv beers, the Brewiks systems have been specifically designed to allow you to brew high volume beers

Easy to Clean – this saves on time and labour costs

Speed of use, ability to double brew and save energy costs by recouping the warm water from cooling the first batch to allow you to mash in the second batch. Its possible to double brew in 10 hours

Reliable Equipment – we have been double brewing on the Brewiks 500 system for years now and the only issue we have encountered is that we need to change the pump seal kit.

Brewiks Add Ons – We can now provide cooling systems at discounted rates to regulate the fermenters temperature, we have designed small 5 head bottle fillers that can attach direct to the Brewiks fermenters, we have designed in house kegging and pumping kit to attach straight to the Brewiks FV’s so you can fill kegs under pressure

Brewiks Pressurised Fermenters

Geterbrewed make the set up process easy, we help with site visits prior to ordering equipment and ensure we are on hand to commission the equipment and provide on site training to get you started. We are available for ongoing help and support and we have a team of talented staff, from technical brewing help to industry experience on distribution channels and route to market.

Talk to us if your interested in starting a microbrewery or brewpub we have lots of solutions





Make Quality Spirits at Home

It isn’t hard to make great spirits at home but you have to play by the rules…..

Check the red tape before you commence craft distilling

Make Quality Spirits At Home

Still Spirits, are the world leader in home distilling products and spirit flavourings.

With the full range of Still Spirits products, you can easily make quality low cost homemade alcohol and turn it into delicious, full flavoured, alcoholic beverages that evoke the taste of far more expensive spirits & liqueurs. Geterbrewed now have a range of still spirit starter kits, still spirits flavourings and consumables

1. Turbo 500 (T500) Still with Alembic Copper Dome and Alembic Copper Condenser – Starter Kit

alembic copper still starter kit

2. Air Still Gin Botanicals Bundle – Starter Kit

airstill gin botanical starter kit

3. Turbo 500 (T500) Still with Copper Condenser – Starter Kit

copper condenser starter kit



Still Spirits flavourings can be added to instantly flavour home distilled neutral spirits – giving them the flavour you know and love, be that Rum, Bourbon, Gin, Absinthe, Port, Brandy, Tequila, Vodka, or a Whiskey style flavouring.

These flavourings are inspired by, and evoke a range of different styles and tastes. You can add these to a bottle of vodka to create your favourite spirit also


Still Spirits turbo yeasts are the finest on the market, create pure top quality spirits

Turbo yeast is a mix of dry yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) and nutrition optimised for the yeast.

There are many different strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and this is where the difference in most distilling yeasts lie. Our strain is specifically chosen for its ability to produce quality alcohol and is packed with nutrients that are optimised for providing exactly the right combination of nitrogen, vitamins and trace minerals which the yeast needs in the different stages of the alcohol’s fermentation process.

Still Spirits Turbo Yeast also contains pH buffers and antifoaming agent to ensure you get excellent results no matter your experience.

What makes Still Spirits Turbo Yeasts so special?

The yeast strain we use is a temperature tolerant, versatile strain able to withstand extreme stress factors (such temperature, ethanol, etc.) and still achieve exceptional ethanol yield when used in the correct conditions. This means that even those new to distilling can achieve excellent results right from their very first still.

Purity  is always an important factor for distillers. The more pure alcohol that is produced, the less filtering is necessary. A balance between purity and volume has to be taken into consideration, as well as the capacity and the cost to filter. In short, the more nutrients present in the yeast mixture, the more off flavours you are likely to get.

Our turbo yeasts various nutritional additives included with the yeast have been optimised to give superior yield and quality within a very respectable fermentation time period.

Speed – Consistently Still Spirits Turbo Yeasts to reach final gravity (FG) quickly to allow you to distil and be enjoying your alcohol as soon as possible. Plus enjoy a higher alcohol yield with a low FG, our Turbo Yeasts will help you achieve the results you are looking for.

Temperature tolerance – Many customers don’t have the capacity or want to invest in refrigerated fermenters to control temperature. Internal temperatures increase as the yeast gets to work and over a certain temperature it affects the viability and efficiency of the yeast to convert the sugar to alcohol. Temperature tolerant yeast such as our Turbo Yeasts, are a strain that can handle excessive temperatures and other stress factors, yet still deliver great ethanol output.

Choosing the Right Yeast

Turbo yeasts ferment sugar into alcohol wash. There are five Turbo Yeasts to choose from, and each one is especially formulated to work excellently in specific situations – be it your specific climate conditions, or your desired alcohol outcomes. Each Turbo Yeast contains a mix of yeast and nutrients, to make 25 L of Wash and produce alcohol that is extremely low in by-products.

Questions to ask yourself when choosing a Turbo Yeast:

  • What sugar substrate are you using? i.e. Glucose Syrup/Dextrose/Molasses/Starch converted grains etc.
  • What volume of alcohol are you trying to make?
  • What will you want to do with your end spirit?
  • What temperature conditions are you fermenting in?

still spirits turbo yeast range


Recommended BRUT IPA procedure

Geterbrewed launched the key to making BRUT IPA’s recently and it has been hugely popular, you need an enzyme called abv glucoamylase, I have written about this beer style recently in the Geterbrewed Blog but in effect the glucoamylase converts the complex sugars into fermentable sugars and the yeast ferments it all out leaving a super dry finish which just happens to pair perfectly with nicely hopped beers

This is a product from our pals at Lallemand who we exclusively distribute for in Ireland, I highly recommend this product, see the attached procedure for assistance and you can buy the product by following the links below


So you want to start homebrewing….

The decision to start making your own can be on a whim maybe you tried a friends homebrew and where surprised or maybe you want to know what actually goes into the beers, ciders and wines that you consume. There is lots of reasons to start brewing your own, modern home brewing has changed alot and its now possible to brew better than shop bought for a fraction of the price.

If you are unsure about how to start then we would love to help. Simply drop us an email ( or a message on social media and we will be very happy to help.

We can cater for a wide range of budgets and care about this industry longterm so we will only sell  equipment and ingredients that are the best we can source, you see we want people to brew successfully and consistently then they will in turn keep buying ingredients from us. We now have huge buying power and have passed the savings on to the home brewers.

We started a homebrew revolution in 2013 as keen home brewers ourselves wanting to make our own beers and wines, we now are proud to say we lead the way with innovative brewing equipment and a diverse range of ingredients that will allow you to brew anything you want.

So Join us or help a friend or even give the gift of homebrewing, Geterbrewed have homebrew starter kits for all levels of experience from hedgerow wine maker to professional brewery equipment and all the great stuff in between

Homebrewing has changed and its awesome, so why not save some money, have a lot of fun and get rewarded in the process:

Geterbrewed All Grain Starter Kit

Bottle Conditioning with CBC -1

CBC 1 Yeast

Lallemand CBC 1 is used for Cask and Bottle Conditioning, when homebrewers have a stable fermentation and the gravity has remained constant for 48 hours you are confident that primary fermentation is complete then you want to look at packaging that product. CBC 1 is a bottle conditioning yeast that helps with secondary fermentation and carbonating the beer in the bottle or cask

If you have dry hopped the beer then you will need to cold crash the beer to allow the hop particles to drop out and this will also make the yeast drop out of suspension in the wort.

If you have cold crashed the beer then prior to using CBC 1 you will need to allow the wort to warm up to allow the conditioning yeast you are going to add to work effectively

This product is available for home brewers and professional breweries.

See the attached pdf for a best practice guide:


Purchase here: