Red Shed Malting uses a custom made malt plant that can produce 4 tons of malt a week. We have one 2 ton steep tank and two 2 ton germination kiln boxes. We also have the first malt roaster in Canada that can produce up to 120kg per a batch.
People have been malting barley and other grains for thousands of years. The malting process has not changed much over this time, it continues to consist of the three fundamental steps; steeping, germination, and kilning.
Steeping is the first step in making malt. In this step we take the barley that is roughly 13.5% moisture and bring it closer to 44% moisture. We achieve this over a 48 hour period, with 3 wet cycles, with air rests in between each cycle. The first wet cycle will help to further wash and clean the incoming barley. During the wet period, the barley will absorb the oxygen from the water and this will help start the growth of the kernels. During the air rests, we remove all the carbon dioxide so that we do not kill the kernels before they have a chance to germinate. Once the barley has reached the desired moisture level, it will begin to grow steadily and uniformly. Now we can transfer the wet barley to the germination box.
Once the barley is transferred into the box, we maintain the airflow and moisture for 4 days as the kernels start to grow. It is important to maintain an even temperature and moisture level throughout the grain bed, to ensure everything grows at the same rate. In this step, we will start to see the rootlets emerge. As the roots grow, they can become tangled together and this can prevent even airflow. In order to keep the grain bed loose and let excess heat escape, we will stir the grain every few hours. We can determine the progress of the germination, by checking the acrospire length. Once the acrospire has reached 3/4 of the length of the kernel, it is ready for the kiln.
The kiln is where all the different flavours and colours will be developed. This process will take close to 24 hours. We start off by slowly increasing the temperature, to evaporate most of the water. As we near the end, we can increase the temperature and airflow to reach the desired colour and flavour of malt. For the darker, coloured malts, we will process the finished malt further in our drum roaster. The roaster reaches higher temperatures and cools the malt quickly to prevent further colour change or from catching on fire.