The effect of water uptake on quality of barley malt for distilling

The effective hydration of barley is essential for the production of malt suitable for use in brewing and distilling. Therefore the focus of this study is on the uptake of water during steeping of barley with a view to shortening steeps and reducing water use. As an additional way of reducing water consumption at malting plants, efforts are being made to find appropriate treatments so that steep water can be recycled. The aim of our research is to minimise the volume of water required for steeping, maximise the potential to recycle steep water and also minimise the length of steeping time. Bryce et al. (2010) showed that when barley was steeped in water continuously for either 8 h or 16 h, hydration of endosperm materials was suboptimal and modification of endosperm materials of barley malt was inadequate. The malt produced under these steeping regimes gave poor friability scores and produced a large number of whole grains. When barley was steeped for 24 h on a continuous basis, or when a regimented standard steeping method was used, the malt produced gave higher friability scores and a much lower number of whole grains. This suggests that a very short steep, essentially a washing of barley, followed by a single steep should be able to produce excellent malt.