West Coast Brewer Home Brewing Blog

Tag: grain

2-Row Crushed Malted Barley Under the Microscope

Below is a video of a two-row malted barley grain shown under the magnification of a microscope. The video allows you to see a closeup of the structure of the grain. The footage was taken under approximately 100 power magnification.



Here is a still shot of the grain under magnification:

Crushed Malted Barley - Malt - Shown under magnification

Crushed Malted Barley – Malt shown under magnification.


Malt is grain, such as barley or wheat, that has been soaked, germinated, and then dried in a process known as malting.

The malting process is conducted by soaking the selected grains in water until they germinate. Then the grains are transferred to the germination floor and dried with hot air to halt the germination process. Malt is critical for brewing because of the enzymes that develop during the germination and malting process. These enzymes are measured as diastatic power and are what enables starches to be converted into sugars during the beer’s mash process.

A beer with too low of a ratio of malted grains to non-malted grains in its grain bill will not have enough diastatic power to be able to convert all of the starches to sugars, and therefore will have a very low starting gravity and a low alcohol by volume.


Malt, Malted 2-row barley used as beer grain

Malt/malted 2-row barley used as beer grain

mash tun

A mash tun is a brewing tank used for converting and extracting sugars from grains and certain types of adjuncts. The crushed grains are loaded into the mash tun and then mixed with temperature controlled hot water. The hot water causes an enzyme reaction in the grains that converts their starches to sugars. The sugars are then rinsed from the grains with hot water that helps liquefy the sugars so that they can be more easily extracted from the grains. Many mash tuns are fitted with a raised perforated false bottom that permits the sugars to be extracted from the grains without requiring the grain husks to be transferred to the next stage of the brewing process.


The photo below displays a mash tun in the WestCoastBrewing.com home brewing sculpture/beer rack. The mash tun is in the center with the hot liquor tank to the right and the boil kettle to the left.


Photo of a home brewing Mash Tun.

Photo of a home brewing Mash Tun.


20 Gallon Home Brewing Mash Tun with False Bottom

20 gallon home brewing mash tun with false bottom


Mash Bill

A mash bill or grain bill is the whole of the different malts, grains, and adjuncts that make up a beer. The mash bill is very important when designing a beer recipe, as it is primarily responsible for the potential original gravity, color, and diastatic power of the beer.


A beer’s grist is the milled or crushed malt and grain that comprises the grain bill prior to the mashing process. An example description of a beer’s grist would be: crushed American two-row malted barley, German pilsner malt, and some white wheat malt.


The barley grain is the seed of the barley plant. It is a member of the grass family and is considered a cereal grain. There are two main classifications of domesticated barley, two-row and six-row. Two-row barley has a lower protein content but higher fermentable sugar content then six-row barley, but both are commonly used in brewing.


American two-row malted and crushed barley.

American two-row malted and crushed barley.

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