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504
MALT


imbibition of a certain amount of water; in order to bring about germination this water must remain within the corn a certain length of time. Thus, although it is quite possible to force the necessary amount of water into the grain in less than the 48'-70 hours usually taken up by the steeping process, the grain is not steep-ripe until certain changes initiated by the water have taken place, and these require time for their completion. The following average data are useful to remember in connexion with the steeping process:-

Amount of water in steep-ripe barley (about) 6o%. Matter removed from barley during steeping (about) I-5 %. Increase in volume of barley due to water absorption (about) I8*2O %.

There has been much discussion as to the influence of saline matters in water on the steeping process. The late Professor Lintner stated that common salt in water tended to extract the nitrogenous constituents of the grain, but impeded its germination. Mills and Pettigrew' found that waters containing calcium salts extracted a minimum of nitrogenous compounds from the barley; they also came to the conclusion that the esteem in which the Lichfield water is held for steeping purposes is due to the presence of nitrates which, they assert, have a stimulating effect on the subsequent germination of the grain. The writer has added lime-water to the extent of onethird of the total volume of water at the first change, believing it to promote regularity of germination. Bearing in mind, however, the observations of Adrian ]. Brown, that the barleycorn is enclosed in a membrane permeable to water but impermeable to most salts, it is difficult to see how the saline constituents of water can have any effect except in removing matter from the external portions of the grain and on those corns which are broken. The apparent beneficial effect of lime-water in the steep is probably entirely due to the removal of matters from the husks or paleae. Malting doors may be constructed of cement, tiles or slate, the two former being preferable to the latter. Ford, in 1849, recommended zoo sq. ft. per quarter of barley steeped as the area of the working doors, and he was quite convinced of the necessity of allowing ample door room, so that the grain could be worked on the slow, cool system. Subsequently, however, maltsters reduced their door area, and put the grain rapidly through the malting, thus producing what is termed “forced” malt. This kind of malt was, however, condemned by practical brewers, and a chemical test whereby forcing could be detected having been devised by E. R. Moritz and G. H. Morris, maltsters have been compelled again to increase the area of their working doors. At the present time the approved area may be placed at 175-200 sq. ft. per quarter of barley steeped. The area is, however, largely ruled by the kind of barley to be malted.

After the barley has been thrown out of the cistern it is made up in a rectangular heap 16-zo in. deep, called the “ couch ”; the object of this is to enable it to gather heat and so start'germinating. It usually remains in couch for 12-24 hours, until in fact the interior portion of the heap registers a temperature of about 6o° F. During the days of the malt tax the excise man gauged the quantity of the barley while it was in the couch. After couching the barley is spread thinly and evenly on the door, forming what is known as the young door or No. I piece. The first visible sign of germination is the sprouting of the rootlet, termed “ chitting, " and this occurs either while the grain is on the couch or on the young door. As already mentioned, it may be quickened by aerating the grain in the cistern. From the time the barley is first cast out of the cistern up to the stage of the young door, or No. 1 piece, it has a pleasant ethereal odour resembling apples. Drs Thomson, Hope and Coventry stated in the earlier part of the 19th century that they distilled “ spirits ” from germinating barley at this stage. In the light of our present knowledge it would not be surprising if alcoholic fermentation were proved tooccur within the grain at this stage, since intermolecular or anaerobic respiration in certain vegetables has been found to be due to alcoholic fermentation. The thickness at which the young door is spread depends upon the outside temperature and the nature of the barley. If the weather be warm, or if there be a tendency for the barley to heat, the piece must be spread all the thinner. At this stage the grain loses its external wet appearance. When spread too thickly the grain will begin to sweat, and the rootlets will be thrown out suddenly and unevenly. As a rule, under these circumstances, the rootlets will be long and thin, when they are said to be “ wild.” A piece which has been allowed to get into this condition must at once be spread thinner. If the sweating has not continued long, the harm done may be confined to increased loss by respiration. The young floor is usually turned with a plough twice during twelve hours, and it may be forked between whiles, but no hard and fast rule can be laid down as to when this is necessary; it must be left to the maltster's judgment, as it depends entirely on what is going on within the grain. The object of turning is in the first place to aerate the grain and freshen it, secondly to check excessive rise of temperature, and thirdly to promote evenness of growth. T oo frequent turning is not to be advised. After remaining four days on the young door three or four rootlets should have appeared, and the acrospire should have begun to grow up the back of the corn. The apple-like odour of the piece then gives place to one resembling that of the common rush, and this should continue the whole time that the malt remains on the door. On the fifth day the piece is next moved to No. 2 position, a stage nearer the kiln. It is here that sprinkling is resorted to when necessary. The amount of sprinkling and the time it is given cannot be exactly prescribed. The amount may vary from two to dve gallons per quarter, and it should only be given when the rootlets, which ought to be short and curly, and five or more in number, show signs of losing their freshness. If an excessive amount of sprinkling be given forced growth ensues. It is preferable not to add the whole of the water at one time, but to divide it over two lots; and immediately after the piece has been sprinkled it should be thoroughly and carefully mixed, otherwise some of the grain will receive an undue proportion of water. When all the sprinkling water has been given to the piece, which as a rule should not be done later than at the sixth or seventh day of flooring, the temperature should be kept down to about 55° F. by turning. Too frequent turning may, however, detach the rootlet, and it may cause the grain to lose its vitality prematurely, so that growth of the acrospire stops.

By about the eighth day of flooring the acrospire should be about three-quarters up the corn. After this the germinating corn is moved forward to No. 3 piece, which is at first spread as thinly on the doors as in the previous pieces. Here it gradually dries and incipient withering of the rootlets sets in. The only treatment which is now given to the grain is to heap it up thicker and thicker by degrees until it is ready for loading on the kiln. This increase in thickness of the piece (now called the old piece) should not be too sudden, especially if the grain be fresh in appearance and contain a large quantity of water. When the piece is thickened up to say IO in. in depth, while it is in a very moist condition, heating and sweating take place, with additional growth of acrospire and rootlet. Under such forcing conditions a large production of sugar and degradation of the proteins will take place. When, however, the moisture has been gradually reduced before thickening up, the rootlet dies off; and although increase of temperature may occur, this is accompanied by little or no further growth of the acrospire, action being condned to the mellowing of the grain by the enzymes. When the malt is ready for loading on the kiln it should be possible to break down the contents of each corn between the thumb and finger. Opinions differ as to what the final temperature on the withering door should be. If the moisture content of the malt be about 50 %, the piece must be kept thin to avoid sweating. But under these conditions mellowing does not occur, hence the necessity of reducing the moisture content gradually after the last sprinkling' water has been given. When the process has been conducted properly the temperature of the old piece may be allowed to rise as high as 70° F. during the six hours previous to loading. The moisture content of the green malt when loaded should not be much above 40 %.

The endosperm of green malt which is ready for the kiln should be soft and mealy, and should not exude moisture when