We have started to mash the first deliveries of barley malted from the 2014 harvest .
There are many variables which can alter the characteristics of the malt – including the year it was harvested, the variety, and its provenance. The rollers in the old Boby mill that turns the malt into grist have to be adjusted to account for these variables. This is done by hand by the mashmen.
To do this, a 100g sample of the grist is extracted from the mill and placed into the wooden “magic box” which has three compartments plus a lid. These compartments are separated by two mesh screens of different gauges. When the box is shaken, the husk is retained in the top section, while the “middles” (which contain most of the valuable sugars which we dissolve during the mash) are retained in the middle compartment. The very fine “flour” (still a vital component of the mash) passes right through into the bottom compartment.
Once the box has been shaken each of the component parts is weighed. The mash man is aiming to for 67% middles, 15% husk and 18% flour, but this will vary slightly according to type.
Conditions during 2013 were difficult but the 2014 harvest was excellent, with high yields and plump grain. This required a certain amount of adjustment to get the balance right once more, but everything was soon pitch perfect…