MEETING HELD AT THE BALMORAL HOTEL, EDINBURGH, on TUESDAY, MARCH 26th, 1907.
Mr. George Lorimer in the Chair.
The following paper was read and discussed.
THE USE OF FLAKED MALTS
By J. C. T. Ritchie.
Ever since the passing of the Free Mash Tun Bill in 1880, when the bringing into practical use of other extract-yielding grain than malted barley became possible, the fact and use of such prepared grain has been of increasing interest to brewers; and that this interest is a great one, has been, I think, amply proved by the growth of the demand for such prepared grain known generally as “Flaked Malts”; combining under that term flaked maize and flaked rice principally, and other flaked cereals generally. It is my intention to deal only with flaked maize and flaked rice, particularly the former, as it is more widely used.
There are still some brewers who hesitate to adopt any other form of grist than that derived solely from malted barley; such hesitation arising principally, I think, from the objection to adopt any other extract-producing material than that which has formed the basis of successful beer production for so many years, but it must not be forgotten that the demand for the heavy beers has undergone u great change in latter years, and the public now require light brilliant, clean, drinking beers, in the production of which it is generally admitted a certain proportion of malt adjuncts greatly assist.
The adoption and use of flaked malt requires no change of plant or process, and therein lies its chief advantage over any other class of grain. Primarily, the adoption of such extract-yielding grain in the brew-house took the form of degermed maize, commonly known as maize grits, and consisting practically of the maize in a raw state; in this form it was necessary before introducing the grits into the mash-tun to put them through a process of conversion, which was carried out in a vessel called a converter, where the grits were mixed with a certain proportion of ground barley malt, and digested under pressure. This process, besides being a tedious one, and necessitating great skill and care on the part of the brewer, required the particular vessel known as the convertor, of which many types more or less complicated have appeared on the market, and met with varying success as such.
The advantages claimed for this method of utilising raw grain principally resolved themselves into an apparent saving in cost of production, as I do not think beers produced by this method gained materially in drinking quality and stability. I say apparent saving, as I think the original expense of the erection of additional plant, in itself not a small matter by any means, some of these convertor machines being extremely expensive, the cost of working such plant, a good deal of power being required, extra time and labour involved, would minimise anyhow to a certain extent the saving on the original cost of material and certainly would not compare favourably with the use of the later forms of prepared grain in the shape of flaked maize or rice; these contentions have been upheld in many instances by the entire supplanting of the converter, and the use of raw grain, by the adoption of flaked malts. The advantages on the side of flaked malts appear to be principally the following:—They form a material entirely fitted for immediate and direct use, which can be mixed with the malt grist and mashed direct, involving no extra plant, time, labour, manipulation or power; whereas on the other hand, raw grain cannot be used direct, having first to lie subjected to a lengthy process, involving time and skilled manipulation in a costly vessel requiring great power and pressure of steam for its successful working.
It was only after much time and great care in experiments that the present type of flaked grain was evolved, and as time went on improved machinery and process gave us the flaked malts of the present day in their increased value as a brewing adjunct. I will in a few words touch lightly on the general process of manufacture.
Maize is grown principally in southern Europe and in America, and it has been found by experienced manufacturers that the maize grown on European soils has advantages over that grown on American, in the fact that it lends itself better to the flaking process than the other. The maize, in the first instance being carefully selected, is thoroughly cleaned and freed from all impurities, the small or damaged corns being taken away, then the germ and husk are entirely removed, this as you know being an important point, the germ containing a large proportion of oil extremely damaging to the production of beer; the germ being removed, the grain is broken and still further purified; it is then gradually steamed and heated, care being taken to avoid any vitrification of the starch cells; by this process the starch culls are thoroughly gelatinised, and some modification of the albuminoids takes place; it is then partially dried and passed under great pressure through heated rollers and pressed into the well-known form of thin flakes; it is finally dried, care being taken to avoid breaking the flakes. After this it is ready for delivery into the brewery. The entire process is carried out with great care and skill to ensure a finished product containing a maximum of starch in a form available for conversion by the diastatic power of malt at ordinary mashing temperatures. The process employed for flaking rice is similar. The grain is first dehusked and an inner skin removed, the composition of which is to some extent similar to the germ in maize, in that it contains a certain proportion of oily matter.
The average composition of these two materials is as follows:—
The average laboratory extract obtainable from these materials is— for maize, 108—110 1b. per quarter, 336 Ib., for rice, 113—115 lb. per quarter, 336 lb.
The characteristic points of a good sample of maize should be a bright golden appearance—I am speaking, of course, of the yellow maize generally used—uniformity of flake, an absence of any foreign or gritty substance, and it should not exhibit any nut-like odour; though in the present day there is practically little possibility of the latter point arising, the process of manufacture having attained a perfection that reduces the oil to a minimum quantity, as will be soon by any recent analysis.
The obtaining of a sound brewing material at a cheap rate of purchase is a point considered by all brewers worthy of attention, and in this respect flaked maize should appeal to the majority. Based on calculation of cost of extract per lb., it will compare favourably with any other beer-producing material. Thus, the average cost of a malt suitable for the production of mild beers may be placed at 37s. per quarter, 336 lb., less the average price obtainable for grains, say 2s. 6d. per quarter, leaving the cost of the malt at 35s 6d, yielding under normal conditions an extract of 92 lb. per quarter; the cost of the extract per lb. on the malt Mould be 4*6d. Now, take maize, say at an average cost of 25s. per quarter, 336 lb., and giving an average extract, which should be easily obtainable, of 103 lb. per quarter, this works out at a cost per lb. extract of 2*9d, a distinct saving of l*7d. per lb. extract obtained. It is unnecessary for me to enlarge further on the economical advantages, as I feel sure the potent fact of figures will convey them more than it wore possible for me to do, to all who care to enter into such calculations.
To go into the quantity of flakes used in the composition of grist, naturally, and rightly so, great divergence of opinion arises among brewers on this point, and it would be futile to endeavour to put forward any certain proportion as being the right one; local conditions, plant, and various other reasons necessitate individual judgment; but this I may say, that many brewers might often, and to their own advantage, use a larger proportion of flakes than they are now doing. Whilst brewing, I used on an average 20—25 per cent, of flaked maize with perfectly satisfactory results, and there are many large breweries using larger proportions than those with perfect safety in operations, and decidedly satisfactory results, even in these days of keen competition, and whose beers compare favourably with others of the same districts.
In the use of these larger proportions of flakes, care must, of course, be taken, but as this is necessary in all brewing operations, further strain or inconvenience is not placed upon the operator, and, especially, care must be taken in the composition of the grist, so that a good filtering media be attained and the full value of extract be obtained; it is usual in such cases to use a proportion of thin, husky malt of foreign type, these malts assisting materially in effecting good drainage. I am, of course, taking it for granted an English malt of fairly active diastatic power be used, roughly speaking, of about 25° (Lintner).
This incidentally brings us to the methods and ways of the admixture of flaked malts with the ordinary grist, to my mind one of the most important points in connection with the use of flaked malts in the brewery, as it is here, immediate on the grinding of tho malt, proper admixture of the highest possible degree must take place if the brewer is to obtain the full advantages in extract from his flake material. It is, of course, not to be understood that good results will be obtainable merely by proper admixture, for with an imperfect mashing system good results would still be unattainable; but, on the other hand, however perfect the mashing system might be, the best results would still be unattainable without previous proper intermixture of flake material with malt grist. The reason that without this proper admixture the fullest extract is unattainable is simply the fact that the malt grist and flake material flow into the mash-tun in unequal portions, whole quantities of malt grist and flake material coming through the masher separately, and, consequently, the diastase of the malt is unable to act thoroughly on the combined mass of starch, certain proportions remaining unconverted, and loss of extract results. This proper admixture is not thoroughly obtainable by hand, though, undoubtedly, where necessitated by lack of space in grist case or other reasons, fairly satisfactory results can be obtained, though not to the full extent obtainable as when some mechanical method of mixing is used. When it is necessary to mix by hand, it is advisable to add the flaked malt adjunct in as small quantities as possible at frequent intervals, so as to avoid the massing of the flake in the mash-tun; when feasible, the best method is to add the flake as the grist falls from the rolls. Where a “Jacob’s ladder” is used for the conveyance of the ground malt to the grist case, a very good and successful means of admixture is obtained by the use of a feeder or shaker, the action of this feeder or shaker being automatic; the flake material is fed or shaken in equal portions into the “Jacob’s”, and, consequently, picked up and dispersed evenly amongst the grist. I am of opinion that perfect admixture cannot be entirely obtained where the methods employed are utilised outside the grist case, for under those circumstances the ground material on falling into the grist case forms a cone, and from this formation the heavier particles gravitate and fall away from the lighter, thus undoing, to a certain extent, the previous outside admixture. I may say that, in conjunction with Mr. Howard Leaker, I have lately put this theory into practical form, and we have devised what we term an internal grist mixer; this mixer has been put into use in two breweries so far, and the theory has been upheld to the extent of a known gain of 1 – 1 ½ lb. per quarter of grist. This internal method of mixing has, of course, been used in conjunction with the outside method of mixing already mentioned, and I merely put it before you as of some interest in these days of keen competition and heavy taxation, when an increase of even only, 1 Ib. per quarter is worth consideration.
In grinding, it is also advisable, before starting the flaked malt feeder, to run a few quarters of malt through the rolls, this affording assistance in securing good drainage. I think it is a general rule, and certainly a most excellent one, especially when flake and malt adjuncts are used, to cover the mash-tun plates with liquor before starting the mash; this method certainly assists in keeping the mash buoyant, helps the drainage, and therefore is an aid to the increase of the proportion of extract obtainable. An outside mixer is practically always affixed to every mash-tun, it usually taking the form known as a “Steeles” masher, this form being generally estimated as the best on the market; and also in the majority of mash-tuns nowadays, internal rakes are added; the outside mixer is practically a necessity, while the internal rakes are of very great value indeed, and it is always advisable for brewers taking up the use of large proportions of flakes to have this addition made to their mash-tuns. The value of internal rakes is great, provided always—and this is a danger that must be carefully avoided—they are not used too freely. The excessive use of rakes in their constant stirring action is liable to knock the goods about too much: they become congested, or what we might term “sticky”, the goods lose their buoyancy, the drainage is materially affected and the wort does not come away freely or bright; last runnings are liable to be high and a certain proportion of unconverted starch unavoidable. The consistency of the mash is another point for consideration, this being governed, of course, by the quantity of liquor used during the mashing operation. It is a well-known fact that the action of the diastase in malt is much restricted in what is termed a “thick mash”, that is to say, when the proportion of liquor used has been somewhat curtailed, say to about 1½ barrels per quarter of grist. Bearing this fact in mind, I think it is a sound deduction, and one I have found useful in practice, that when adding greatly to the work of the diastase by the addition of quantities of starch for conversion in the shape of flaked malt adjuncts, this work of conversion should be assisted as much as possible, and this can be done beneficially by mashing somewhat thin; an average of about 2½ barrels per quarter is generally found a good one. Some brewers are somewhat afraid that by the addition of prepared grain to their grist, their fermentations are likely to be harmfully affected; this hesitation need not arise in the slightest degree when contemplating the use of flaked malts, insomuch that rather than having any deterrent effect whatsoever, the opportunities of a healthy fermentation are greatly increased by such use; the reason for this increased opportunity of healthy fermentation being the fact that the total proportion of indigestible albuminoid contained in barley malt is greatly reduced, and owing to certain peptonisation of the albuminoids in the flakes taking place, as already mentioned, during the process of manufacture, the yeast is considerably nourished, thus promoting healthy fermentation, good reproduction, satisfactory final attenuation and eventually a good clean racking sample.
The resulting beers produced by the use of certain proportions of flaked malts in conjunction with sugar and barley malt are of undoubtedly excellent quality, especially in meeting the taste and condition required by public demand in the present day, and I feel sure if the experiment were made of placing before the ordinary beer consumer, two samples, one brewed under old conditions of malt and hops only, and the other on what may be termed present-day lines, from maize, sugar, and a certain proportion of barley malt, the consumer would invariably choose the beer produced under the latter conditions as being of superior flavour, more brilliant, and of cleaner drinking quality. That the keeping quality of beers produced from grists containing 20-25 per cent of flake materials is excellent is borne out and maintained by the very large adoption of the use of such materials in beers brewed for the export trade, where they remain for very lengthy periods in cask and under extremely trying climatic conditions. This came under my own knowledge, as in one brewery I was at we exported a quantity of beer produced from such proportions of flakes to Malta, Gibraltar, Bermuda, Egypt, etc., and during the five yours or so I was associated with this brewery I do not remember our experiencing any trouble arising from any unsoundness of these exported beers. Beers so produced, when tested both on the “forcing tray” and in the sample room, will be found to answer both forms of testing favourably: the deposits on examination under the former test will be found very free from any faulty typo of ferment, and in the latter will be found to keep in excellent condition and soundness for longer periods than any ordinary trade consumption necessitates. This is found even in beers of the quick running type, and light ales which have no great reserve of high original gravity to fall back upon. Maize can also be used with advantage in the brewing of stout and porter, as it helps largely to increase the extract, and thereby cheapens the cost of production, at the same time adding considerably to the full drinking qualities of the product. This subject brings to mind the inception of a class and type of stout recently produced and increasingly demanded by the drinking public.
This stout has been called oatmeal stout, the name arising from a certain proportion of oatmeal being used in its production; the original production was obtained by raw oatmeal, necessitating the old difficulties of an outside method for conversion. Eventually an oatmeal flake was produced which could be utilised with equal beneficial results, in an exactly similar manner to flaked maize, direct in the mash-tun.
The drinking qualities of beers produced from proportions of flaked malts are well known, it being generally substantiated that they clarify well, dropping brilliant in cask, come into early condition, and have that palate fulness and cleanness in drinking so much demanded. One of the many advantages this material has is brought into particular prominence in the present day by the rapid and increasing growth of all forms of bottled beer, and the advantage lies in the fact of the great reduction of albuminous matter in beers so produced, thus lessening to a high degree the deposit thrown by beer in bottle: it would possibly bo remarked that the benefit of this advantage is rather discounted in these days when so many excellent forms of chilling are in practice, but I would venture to suggest that this lessening and reducing of the albuminous matter is an advantage in any beer, no matter what process it may be subjected to, that is to find its ultimate way into bottle. To turn to the matter of colour, the extract of maize is practically without colour, and with rice entirely so. This is an advantage in districts where essentially light coloured beers of all types are demanded, as it enables the use being made of thoroughly well cured malts, curing not having to be sacrificed in any degree to colour, as would probably be the case if the entire grist had to be composed of malt.
To remark on the storing of these materials. Flaked malts should be kept in a good dry store, and a certain amount of care should be exercised to arrange the supply in such a way as to avoid, as far as possible in general working, overstocking and therefore long retention in store before use. This point is of use, insomuch as the moisture, during the final process of drying, is brought down to as low a degree as is compatible with the production of the higher extract yielding powers, and therefore storage in a damp store, or any long retention in store whereby the material is liable to absorb moisture and thereby the quality and quantity of its extract yielding power be affected, is a point worthy of consideration. The exclusion of damp in stores, where faulty, is somewhat facilitated by a lagging of felt encased in match-boarding and fixed to the walls.
To summarise the advantages obtained by the use of flake materials, we have ease of manipulation, requiring no extra plant or alteration of process; particularly a large extract yielding power on a strong economical basis, and generally a material assisting somewhat towards the production of high-class, sound drinking beers.
In reply to Mr. Lorimer’s question as to why he preferred the golden-coloured maize to the white, Mr. Ritchie said that while the former was obtained in America the latter was only obtained in Europe, and he was of opinion that the starch was of a higher quality.
Mr. Doull inquired why beers from grits should taste thinner than beers from flakes, because, so far as he could see, there was nothing in the manufacture of flakes that could make any difference.
Mr. Ritchie, in reply, said that it was the almost unanimous opinion of practical men with whom he came in contact, that the beer from flakes was fuller flavoured than the beer from grits.
Mr. Montagu Baird also made a few remarks, and gave a short sketch of the inception of flaked malt on the market.
The Chairman then proposed a hearty vote of thanks to Mr. Ritchie, which was carried unanimously.