What grain mill to buy

Discussion in 'Gear and Equipment' started by Chris79, 13/11/17 at 10:41 AM.

 

  1. Chris79

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    Posted 13/11/17 at 10:41 AM
    Hey,

    I'd like to buy a mill for either my birthday in a month or Christmas. I don't particular understand a lot of the factors at play. I know I just missed the Mash Master Mill Master mini, but the timing wasn't right for me, with other priorities.

    I have read some articles/posts here such as this one, and this one, Monster Mills in the US have a sale on one of their 3 and 2 roller kits, but I don't know yet what postage would be?

    I can tell especially that the type of rollers (knurled or fluted. But what does that mean?) is important, whether the mill uses gears or belts for the rollers, and how well the husk is kept in tack while getting the required size of crush for each particular brewing system. Beyond that I'm not too aware about what kind of details to look for.

    Some of my questions:
    • For those with a mill, what do you use? How long have you had and what did you pay?
    • For those that have a Mash Master Mill Master mini, if you didn't buy this mill what would be your second choice?
    • Any users of the Monster mill mills?
    • What do you think of the standard Keg King mills?
    I have seen some posts when searching from time to time on this topic, but, I couldn't see enough info of which way people go for their amount of brewing and what they're happy to pay.

    I'll then go from there, and start what's my best case scenario see what my better half is happy to spend on me ;)

    Cheers
    Chris
     
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  2. peteru

    Here, taste this!

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    Posted 13/11/17 at 11:12 AM
    Grain mills are a lot like coffee grinders. Anything is better than nothing. The rest is all about your budget and how you plan to use it. If you are happy to tweak it a bit and turn the crank by hand, then you can get a new complete grain mill setup off eBay for $150 or slightly less. (I just put up a secondhand one for sale in the last 10-15 minutes for $80)

    If you are after an electric setup, with easy adjustment, speed control, bit of bling and a convenient method of storing / moving the entire grain crushing setup, you can easily spend in excess of $1,000 and many days building your contraption.

    In terms of the beer you produce... You'll never be able to tell the difference between a $100 grain crusher setup and a $1,000 setup.

    I'd say pick a budget first, then figure out what that money can get you. Alternatively, if you are unsure, dip your toes in at the cheap end of the pool and see how long it takes before you feel the need to upgrade. I know I started contemplating an upgrade after about 9 months, but if the bulk buy didn't come when it did, I would have probably kept using the cheap mill for a few more years.
     
  3. Lyrebird_Cycles

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    Posted 13/11/17 at 11:18 AM
    I disagree: IMO the two bits of equipment that make the biggest difference are the mill and the lauter tun.
     
    Last edited: 13/11/17 at 11:48 AM
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  4. Jack of all biers

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    Posted 13/11/17 at 2:45 PM
    I fully agree with Lyrebird_Cycles on the above regarding brew equipment. A quality mill that produces a quality consistent grist is very important not only to mash and lauter efficiency, but also the reactions in the boil, the resultant effects on the yeast and finally the flavour, stability and clarity of the beer.

    Peteru is right that you need to figure out your budget, but buy once, buy right is what I have found to be the best advice. I can't comment on other mills, as I researched and saved for nearly a year to get my mill (okay, I was waiting to go on holidays for a planned trip to the in-laws, but don't let the truth get in the way of a good story!). I went from HBS crushed grain (~75-80% mash efficiency) to my Mattmill crushed grain (between 84 and most recently 97% mash efficiency) with no change in any other equipment or technique. Add to that a noticeably clearer post boil wort (again no difference in additions, equipment or technique) and beers that clear by cold crashing alone (no finings for this black duck).

    • I can't personally say if fluted is better than knurled, though by all reports on this forum from members who have had both, the overwhelming feedback was that fluted won hands down. Probably more important is the angle at which the mill rollers crush the grain. Fluted seems to cheat this a bit, but larger rollers are better at squeezing the grain as opposed to obliterating it. Helps to keep the husks more intact. Three roller mills are also good at keeping the husks intact with finer crushes, so more food for thought for you.
    • As stated above, I use a Mattmill Kompakt Komfort (German made), which I have had just under a year. It has 70mm finely fluted mill rollers as opposed to the 38-39mm rollers in most HB rigs. Thread is here. WEAL got one from the same supplier just after me and he got his tax free and delivered to Aust. far cheaper that the Aust. retailer will supply it.
    • Can't answer the Mash Master Mill question, but I'm sure others will. They are very popular and good by all accounts and it was my second choice. A good value for money unit at about $290 AUD, given it's geared with SS fluted rollers.
    • Haven't heard or researched the Monster mill and keg king mills, but $200 US ($260 AUD) for the 3 roller plus postage (I'd estimate it will be $60-100 US), so you're potentially looking at $390 AUD.
    I'm in the process of making a hopper from scrap wood and will post the finished product on that thread when complete, so if you are thinking that the Monster Mill comes with hopper so is better value than other options then look at some of the hoppers people have made and posted about on this forum. Cheap and easy as you want it to be.

    EDIT - I have a memory like a gold fish. 70mm rollers, not 60mm! Edited above to reflect the same.
     
    Last edited: 13/11/17 at 8:51 PM
  5. Dae Tripper

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    Posted 13/11/17 at 3:04 PM
    Well 60 odd of us just bought the Mash Master fluted like last week, guess it might be ok... :drinkingbeer:
     
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  6. Chris79

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    Posted 14/11/17 at 1:44 AM
    Thanks everyone.

    • What is the connection between crush and lauter efficiency / reactions in the boil / wort clarity?
    • Re the angle of the rollers why is that important?
    • I've saved the link to your post re your mill. Looks brilliant. But sounds like a better idea, if getting this one to get it direct from Germany?
    • I'm keen to hear more about the features/build quality that many liked so much to buy the Mash Master mill.
    Yes, I'll work out my budget, and go from there.

    Cheers
     
  7. Mardoo

    Noob What Craps On A Bit

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    Posted 14/11/17 at 2:15 AM
    MashMaster owner. My second choices were either the MattMill mentioned above or the Monster Mill 3 roller. However, I’m utterly happy with the MashMaster. Fantastic mill. Also I’m happy to support an Australian company building a great product, with great customer service to boot.

    As JOB mentioned, the angle the grain goes through the rollers is important. My very basic understanding is that larger diameter rollers mean the hulls are less subject to tearing. That was one thing that attracted me to the MattMill - bigger diameter rollers. And it does seem the fluted rollers fudge that somehow, but I can’t say I understand why.
     
    Last edited: 14/11/17 at 2:22 AM
  8. Lyrebird_Cycles

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    Posted 14/11/17 at 2:33 AM
    Basically husks. The less husk damage during milling the better.

    With any two roller mill there is a trade off between husk damage and endosperm particle size distribution.

    Basically husks. A lower nip angle improves the trade off as above. Ideal roller diameter is about 250mm but few home mills even approach that.
     
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  9. pcqypcqy

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    Posted 14/11/17 at 3:13 AM
    60 AHB home brewers can't be wrong.
     
  10. HaveFun

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    Posted 14/11/17 at 3:16 AM
  11. Lionman

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    Posted 14/11/17 at 3:24 AM
    That would be one beast of a mill.

    Does fluting the rollers emulate in a way, the nip angle of a larger roller?

    Edit: I think its also important to add that you can make good, even great beer with ANY mill. A quality mill will allow you to be more consistent and accurate in your target gravities, but in terms of subjective quality of beer the difference between mills will be marginal. It's not a given you could do a blind tasting of 2 identical beers, the grist milled with two different mills and the beers be obviously distinguishable.

    I am eagerly awaiting my new Mash Master after using a $20 Corona style mill for the last year or so. I'm hoping that my efficiency, lauter and sparge will improve and have fewer frustrating moments where the wort refuses to drain from the grain bed. I am not expecting my beer to become 'better' though, I have made a lot of beers that I have been very satisfied with.

    If are on a tight budget, you can mill a decent grist with a $20 mill and make great beer.
     
    Last edited: 14/11/17 at 3:36 AM
  12. malt junkie

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    Posted 14/11/17 at 3:42 AM
    I ran the recent BB, when first considering the buy I wanted a better mill than I had, I also wanted value for money. I would say the Monster mills and the mash master are on par, the Mattmill while better than either was just a little too pricey. The cost of postage from the states sealed the deal.
     
  13. Lyrebird_Cycles

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    Posted 14/11/17 at 3:49 AM
    A low nip angle allows the grain to be pulled into the gap without excessive force. Fluting helps the roller grip the grain so it compensates to a degree. What tends to happen is that as rollers get smaller the fluting gets more agressive: big rollers have the flutes about 1 mm apart so they are also quite shallow. Smaller rollers use larger flutes or knurling.

    The other thing is the profile and direction of the flutes: multi roller mills use a cutting on cutting profile for the later rollers only (after the husks have been seived off). The husk rollers are rear on rear to avoid shearing. The flutes are also always helical and arranged so they cross at the pinch point.

    And yes, by the time you stack three sets of rollers with automatic seives between the sets the mill gets pretty tall. I'm presently noodling with a design that uses 140mm rollers and it looks as though it will end up over a metre tall.

    BTW I think you might be surprised at the quality improvement you get. Phenolic problems are often not obvious until they aren't there any more. A brewery at which I worked upgraded from a 2 roller agricultural feed mill to a proper German 4 roller malt mill and the quality jumped.
     
    Last edited: 14/11/17 at 9:21 AM
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  14. HaveFun

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    Posted 14/11/17 at 3:57 AM

    Sorry for the newbie question - but what is a corona style mill ? any link ?

    cheers stefan
     
  15. Lionman

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    Posted 14/11/17 at 4:14 AM
    Something like this,

    https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/500gm-C...836108&hash=item28204b47a8:g:GPgAAOSwvzRX17Cd

    which is a Chinese knockoff of one of these

    http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Corona-Grain-Mill/142555609923?hash=item2130f9fb43:g:0MgAAOSwal5YMVfd

    They are a mill used in kitchens, mainly in Central and South America. Popular in the US as they are cheap there.

    They are not ideal for brewing as they are very aggressive on the husks but for BIAB they work pretty well. I have mainly had issues when using a high percentage of wheat malt.

    I mounted mine in a bucket and drove it with a drill.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I later mounted a bucket on to of the lid as a bigger hopper. Pretty ghetto but effective. Total cost of mill was under $50.
     
  16. Jack of all biers

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    Posted 14/11/17 at 9:10 AM
    Pretty much Lyrebird_Cycles told you in a nutshell. Expanding on that, the less damage to the husks, the better the filter and the less surface area for potential release of tannin's from the husks. The better the filter, the more likely the unwanted solids get trapped in the mash tun as opposed to getting into the kettle (one example being malt lipids). There are studies that show that lipids when extracted in large quantities from the mash through poor mash run off are likely to cause significant potential for damage to the flavour of stored beer. (Anness & Reed - Lipids in Wort 1984)
    'It is recommended that wort from the lauter tun should have a haze of less than 5 EBC with less than 1mg of suspended solids per litre'. (The Brewer international Volume 10, 2002)

    I could go on, but basically, the less crap that makes it into the kettle from the mash = less crap in the beer which affects clarity, flavour and stability.

    Lyrebird_Cycles said it all and knows more than most of us regarding this.

    Yes, as WEAL posted, he got his for $333 AUD delivered from Germany. The Monster 3 roller is potentially up to $390 AUD delivered and the Mashmaster is $290 from the manufacturer. There are cheaper versions of the Mattmill (essentially the same unit) and the Student model being the cheapest, but still good value at about $139 (w/o tax) plus freight from Germany, but is not gap adjustable (to be honest, I changed mine then found that the factory setting was better after all).
    I think though that the Mashmaster is good value and the results of those that have used them are plenty on this forum.
     
    Last edited: 14/11/17 at 9:19 AM
  17. mattyh77

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    Posted 14/11/17 at 9:20 AM
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  18. Jack of all biers

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    Posted 14/11/17 at 10:05 AM
  19. HaveFun

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    Posted 14/11/17 at 10:35 AM
    yeah i like cheeky peak they are great got already a few bits and pieces of them

    thanks
    cheers
    stefan
     
  20. Chris79

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    Posted 14/11/17 at 11:08 AM
    Thanks LC for the technical answers. Love learning about the technical aspects of brewing!

    Yes Mardoo, also keen to support Australian companies.

    MJ - I wish I could have gotten on board with the BB! Was my wives 40th and a few celebrations either side of it, and her party that we organised so did take more of my time (which was completely cool), just wasn't quite the right time to get on board :-(

    Cheers Jack! Enjoy hearing the nerdy answers (I'm in the nerdy part of the coffee industry in Sydney - speciality coffee, purchasing / roasting coffee, and love all things geeky/scientific).

    Thanks Matt - I bought my BIAB electric setup from them, and enjoying getting familiar with it. I have considered them. I could also use our work account with Keg King and buy the 3 roller mill, at the wholesale prices, just considering all my options and confirming my budget!
     

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