Sunday 24 October 2021

What is flaked barley, flaked wheat and flaked oats?

Brewing typically uses "malted" grains. Malting is the process of soaking the grains in water to begin the germination process - then suddenly halting this process by drying the grain with hot air. The process helps to develop enzymes that break down the proteins within the grain into a useable sugars that can be consumed by yeast.

Some recipes call for different types of grains to be used such as flaked barley, flaked wheat or flaked oats. So what is "flaking"? 

Flaking is the process of treating the grains with steam to soften them, then sending them through rollers. The process makes the endosperm more accessible when added to the mash, and negates the need for the grains to be milled.

Flaked Barley

Use in up to 10% of the total grain bill. Used to add unfermentable saccharides to your wort which helps to increase the attenuation limit and adds proteins which aid in head retention, and improve body and mouth feel.

Can give a grainy bite to beers and can be used to help reduce the amount of wheat required in styles like New England IPAs (NEIPAs), wheat beers and saisons.

Flaked Wheat

Unmalted wheat with high levels of proteins that help give foam stability and improve mouth feel and lightness (colour) of the wort.

Typically used in 5-10% of the total grain bill. Gives a crisper mouth feel when compared to wheat malt.

Helps to contribute haze and popular in styles like NEIPAs, wheat beers and saisons.

Flaked Oats

Flaked oats contain high levels of lipids, beta glucans and gums, which help to impart a silky mouthfeel and creaminess to beer.

Becoming increasingly popular in styles such as NEIPAs, and other big, hoppy beers for the texture and fullness of palate that they help to impart.

The more flaked oats in your grain bill, the greater the effect.

In amounts exceeding 20% of the total grain bill, it can contribute to a slowing effect on wort run off - ie. sparging. Use rice hulls to help alleviate this when using in high amounts.

What is the difference?

Obviously the process of malting vs flaking is quite different, however, it appears that the difference it makes to the end result - ie. your beer is quite minimal - at least with oats.

Brulosophy ran an experiment where they compared the use of flaked oats and malted oats in otherwise identical recipes and people were generally unable to tell the difference.

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