Adding a personal touch to your homebrew: roasting your own grains…

If you’re anything like me, you’re always seeking out how to brew a better tasting beer. There seems to be endless possibilities and learning opportunities that can be had when brewing. Thankfully home brewers and craft brewers, by nature, like to experiment. Perpetually fiddling with recipes, equipment and the overall process is what we do.

A fellow home brewer tipped me off to a recipe he thought was amazing called “Lake Walk Pale Ale”. It showcases the famous Amarillo/Simcoe hop combination that I’ve read so much about. Unfortunately, up until recently, Simcoe hops have been very scarce around these parts. I’ve since scored a pound of them, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try it. An interesting twist to the recipe is the use of ‘home-toasted’ malt. I had read about roasting your own grains in “Radical Brewing” and “Brewing Better Beer“, but hadn’t really thought much about until now. Since we are so incredibly fortunate to have access to a myriad of different malts from all over the globe, some would say, why bother roasting your own?

I say, why not? It’s something else to do that involves brewing!

You can achieve any number of roasts at home. Try roasting them dry, or try roasting them wet to get a caramel/crystal type malt. You can also play around with the temperature and the length to get flavours that you want. For example, Randy Mosher’s “Radical Brewing” outlines the following flavours you will get at various temperatures:

  • 20mins @ 250°F = Pale Gold (10°L) = Nutty; not toasty
  • 25mins @ 300°F = Gold (20°L) = Malty, caramelly, rich; not toasty
  • 30mins @ 350°F = Amber (35°L) = Nutty,malty; lightly toasty
  • 40mins @ 375°F = Deep Amber (65°L) = Nutty,toffee-like; crisp toastiness
  • 30mins @ 400°F = Copper (100°L) = Strong toasted flavour; some nutlike notes
  • 40mins @ 400°F = Deep Copper (125°L) = Roasted, not toasted; like porter or coffee
  • 50mins @ 400°F = Brown (175°L) = Strong roasted flavour

Making your own Crystal Malt:

  1. Take 1lb of whole, uncrushed pale malt and soak it in de-chlorinated tap water for 24 hours.
  2. Drain it well in a colander or strainer.
  3. Spread it out on a cake pan about 1 inch deep and set the oven at 160°F. Leave for 2-3 hours to allow the enzymes in the malt to convert the malt starches into sugars.
  4. Turn up the oven to 200 -220°F. Mix up the grain every 1/2 hour until the malt is dry and crispy.
  5. You can then use it as a light crystal, or you can turn up the heat to 300°F and keep it in the oven until your desired level of colour and taste are met.
  6. Once you’re finished, remove the pan and let it cool, mixing the grain a couple of times. Allow the malt to mellow for a couple weeks to let the harsher components of roasting dissipate before you brew with it.

There are also a few types of traditional malts that were used historically that are sometimes hard to find. Malts like brown malt or amber malt aren’t always available, and if you want the authentic taste of a porter or a mild, these malts are a necessity. They just push the flavour profile into the awesome zone…


Amber malt is described as a “roasted specialty malt used in some English browns, milds and old ales to add color and a biscuit taste. Intense flavour”

To make Amber Malt:

  • 30 minutes at 250°F to thoroughly dry the malt
  • 30 minutes at 300°F stirring every 10 minutes to prevent scorching


Brown malt is described as “imparting a dry, biscuit flavor”. The Thomas Fawcett brown malt I have gives me a slight smokiness. This is a definite for an authentic brown porter.

To make Brown Malt:

  • 30 minutes at 250°F to thoroughly dry the malt
  • 30 minutes at 300°F
  • 30 minutes at 350°F, stirring every 10 minutes to prevent scorching

There are unlimited variations of things you can do, and not just with barley, try it with wheat, rye, spelt, oats or any other malted grain.

I’ve revised the original recipe slightly to suit my taste, but here is the recipe for “Lake Walk Pale Ale”:Carbonation and Storage

Hoptomology: Lake Walk Pale Ale

American Pale Ale

Type: All Grain Brewer: Hoptomology
Equipment: 7.5 Gallon Stainless Steel Pot + 5 Gallon Coleman Cooler Mash Tun
Est Original Gravity: 1.055 SG Measured Original Gravity:
Est Final Gravity: 1.013 SG Measured Final Gravity:
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 5.5 % Actual Alcohol by Vol:
Bitterness: 39.5 IBUs Bitterness Ratio: 0.719
Est Color: 8.5 SRM Calories: 0.0 kcal/12oz



Amt Name Type # %/IBU
7 lbs 8.0 oz Pale Malt (Weyermann) (3.3 SRM) Grain 1 81.1 %
1 lbs Home Toasted Malt (27.0 SRM) Grain 2 10.8 %
8.0 oz Wheat, Flaked (1.6 SRM) Grain 3 5.4 %
4.0 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt – 57L (57.0 SRM) Grain 4 2.7 %
0.375 oz Amarillo Gold [8.50 %] – Boil 60.0 min Hop 5 15.0 IBUs
0.375 oz Simcoe [13.00 %] – Boil 20.0 min Hop 6 7.7 IBUs
1.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient (Boil 10.0 mins) Other 7
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 5.0 mins) Fining 8
1.000 oz Amarillo Gold [8.50 %] – Boil 5.0 min Hop 9 6.6 IBUs
1.000 oz Simcoe [13.00 %] – Boil 5.0 min Hop 10 10.2 IBUs
1.0 pkg American Ale (Wyeast Labs #1056) [4.20 oz] Yeast 11
0.500 oz Amarillo Gold [8.50 %] – Dry Hop 5.0 Days Hop 12 0.0 IBUs
0.500 oz Simcoe [13.00 %] – Dry Hop 5.0 Days Hop 13 0.0 IBUs
Total Grains Used: 9 lbs 4.0 oz Total Hops Used: 3.750 oz

Mash Profile

Mash Style: Single Infusion, Medium Body
Brewhouse Efficiency: 80.00 %
Mash Steps

Name Description Step Temperature Step Time
Mash In Add 3.25 gal of water at 169.3 F 153.0 F 60 min
Mash Out Add 1.75 gal of water at 202.5 F 168.0 F 10 min
Sparging: Fly sparge with 2.52 gal water at 168.0 F to achieve 6.16 gal

Boil Profile

Boil Size: 6.16 gal Boil Time: 60 min
End of Boil Volume: 5.46 gal Estimated pre-boil gravity: 1.047 SG
Batch Size (into fermenter): 5.00 gal Measured pre-boil Gravity:
Final Bottling Volume: 4.80 gal

Fermentation Profile

Fermentation: Ale, Single Stage
Primary Fermentation: 10.00 days at 68.0 F
Secondary Fermentation: 0.00 days at 0.0 F

Carbonation and Storage

Carbonation Type: Keg Volumes of CO2: 2.3
Pressure/Weight: 8.20 PSI Age Beer for: 3.00 days
Keg/Bottling Temperature: 36.0 F Storage Temperature: 36.5 F


Taste Rating: 0.0 / 50
Taste Notes:
Download the recipe here: Hoptomology: Lake Walk Pale Ale – A little about life, a lot about beer.


4 Responses to Adding a personal touch to your homebrew: roasting your own grains…

  1. What’s that expanded metal thingy you got going on there?

  2. The expanded metal the grain is on. Do you sit this ontop of the cookie sheet?

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