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The Importance of Milling Your Own Grain – or – Why a Mill is One of The First Things You Should Buy

As grain handling system providers, one thing we hear a lot is “no need for a mill, I get my grain pre-milled”. Although this is certainly better than nothing, and is even more cost effective for home brewers, getting a mill should be your first grain equipment purchase—even if you have to carry the grain from your mill in a bucket.

This is because, when you mill grain you exponentially increase its surface area, which exponentially increases its aging rate. While this may be fine for baked goods, it’s always noticeable in beer. We go to great lengths to drive conveyance time from the mill to the mash
down by minutes. But pre-milled grain is sitting in bags for weeks at least. Following are the top reasons you want a mill first.

Better Flavor
Milling your own grain ensures maximum freshness. Just like coffee beans, once grains are milled, they lose the most volatile compounds first, which affect the flavor.

Customization & Control
Every brewer has specific notes they’re looking for in their beer. By milling your own grain, you have control over the grind size, which can significantly affect the flavor.

Optimized Efficiency
The efficiency of sugar extraction during the mashing process is crucial for brewers. Milling your own grain allows you to optimize the crush for your specific mashing system and process. This will probably translate to higher yields.

Cost Savings
While the initial investment in a good grain mill might seem high, in the long run, buying whole grains in bulk is generally cheaper than purchasing pre-milled grains. Over time, the cost savings add up.

Specialty Grains
Many specialty grains are not available in pre-milled form. Milling your own grain allows you to experiment with these unique varieties, expanding your brewing horizons and potentially leading to exceptional and distinctive brews.

Quality Assurance
When you mill your own grain, you know exactly what’s going into your beer. There’s no chance of receiving a batch that’s been crossed or ground to the wrong size.

Choosing the Right Grain Mill
Mill prices vary on 3 things: size, roller quantity, and quality. Size, or roller length, impacts throughput. Roller quantity impacts grind control and how fine you can get. Quality impacts reliability, dust control, and how well the mill stays in tune. Production mills run between 10 and 40k, from the low to the high end of this spectrum.

Conclusion
Milling your own grain as a brewer offers numerous advantages, from freshness and flavor to customization and cost savings. While it requires an initial investment and a bit more effort, the rewards in terms of beer quality and brewing satisfaction are immense. Embrace the full brewing experience by taking control of the milling process, and raise a glass to even better homebrews!

To learn more, about popular options more specifically, go to ABMBrewery.com/grain-handling/brewery-mills.

To learn about grain options in general, you can check out ABM Equipment’s Beginner’s Guide to Grain Handling.