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I"m looking for input on using a hammer mill vs roller mill for malt barley processing in whiskey. We're looking at both versions. seems like hammer mill is more cost effective and has less maintenance issues. Anyone have experience or thoughts on hammer mills?

thx.

bryan

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Bryan,

Very few distillers use a hammer mill for barley

as it make a very fine crack. (good for corn)

Most artisan distillers use a roller mill at 32/1000 of inch.

a fine crack is not necessary.

bill owens ADI

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We use a hammer mill for our barley (fine grind). We also mash/ferment/distill on the grains. It works great and I wouldn't do it any other way!

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I"m looking for input on using a hammer mill vs roller mill for malt barley processing in whiskey. We're looking at both versions. seems like hammer mill is more cost effective and has less maintenance issues. Anyone have experience or thoughts on hammer mills?

thx.

bryan

The answer depends on the type of product you are making which you did not mention.

If trying to make a clean single malt whiskey without phenol issues or the chance of bacterial influence that can arise from distilling off the grain you will want to "lauter" your wort. This is the separation of the liquid from the grain. In that case you would not want to use a hammer mill as you would not have the husk size required to filter the wort. All Scotch producers use this technique. This technique also maximizes the yield as up to 30% of the volume in both fermenters and stills can be taken up by the grain if a separation is not undertaken. However, since a bit less starch surface is accessible to be converted into fermentable sugars, the extract derived is less than if it was hammer milled.

Now, if you are not separating the liquid from the grain, a hammer mill would be great. More extract per pound of ingredients used. Additionally, there is a minor secondary conversion that takes place during on grain fermentations that gives a slightly better alcohol yield. But, there are flavor and maturation time consequences from distilling off the grain as I mentioned that may or may not be worthy of consideration.

Eric Watson

Master Distiller

Cayman Island Distilleries, LTD.

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The answer depends on the type of product you are making which you did not mention.

If trying to make a clean single malt whiskey without phenol issues or the chance of bacterial influence that can arise from distilling off the grain you will want to "lauter" your wort. This is the separation of the liquid from the grain. In that case you would not want to use a hammer mill as you would not have the husk size required to filter the wort. All Scotch producers use this technique. This technique also maximizes the yield as up to 30% of the volume in both fermenters and stills can be taken up by the grain if a separation is not undertaken. However, since a bit less starch surface is accessible to be converted into fermentable sugars, the extract derived is less than if it was hammer milled.

Now, if you are not separating the liquid from the grain, a hammer mill would be great. More extract per pound of ingredients used. Additionally, there is a minor secondary conversion that takes place during on grain fermentations that gives a slightly better alcohol yield. But, there are flavor and maturation time consequences from distilling off the grain as I mentioned that may or may not be worthy of consideration.

Eric Watson

Master Distiller

Cayman Island Distilleries, LTD.

We use a plate grinder for grinding all our grains. Corn, Wheat, Barley. Fully adjustable for any grind. Coop

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The answer depends on the type of product you are making which you did not mention.

If trying to make a clean single malt whiskey without phenol issues or the chance of bacterial influence that can arise from distilling off the grain you will want to "lauter" your wort. This is the separation of the liquid from the grain. In that case you would not want to use a hammer mill as you would not have the husk size required to filter the wort. All Scotch producers use this technique. This technique also maximizes the yield as up to 30% of the volume in both fermenters and stills can be taken up by the grain if a separation is not undertaken. However, since a bit less starch surface is accessible to be converted into fermentable sugars, the extract derived is less than if it was hammer milled.

Now, if you are not separating the liquid from the grain, a hammer mill would be great. More extract per pound of ingredients used. Additionally, there is a minor secondary conversion that takes place during on grain fermentations that gives a slightly better alcohol yield. But, there are flavor and maturation time consequences from distilling off the grain as I mentioned that may or may not be worthy of consideration.

Eric Watson

Master Distiller

Cayman Island Distilleries, LTD.

Where are you getting this information from?

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Where are you getting this information from?

My training from Heriot-Watt, Weihenstephan, VLB and Siebel, all formal distilling and/or brewing schools. Some of this info is available in professional texts that you can purchase. I know the IBD has short courses and materials that you can buy as well.

Eric Watson

Master Distiller

Cayman Islands Distilleries, LTD.

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We use a plate grinder for grinding all our grains. Corn, Wheat, Barley. Fully adjustable for any grind. Coop

What brand of plate grinder do you use?

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What brand of plate grinder do you use?

I would like to reinforce that the original question does not have a "one answer fits all" response. If you lauter your wash (wort actually in that case), unless you have a mash filter, you should ONLY use a roller mill. If you do not lauter, then you have more options.

Eric Watson

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What brand of plate grinder do you use?

Sorry for taking so long to respond Holidays, we are using a model 60 from the C.S. Bell Co. You can find them on the internet. www.csbellco.com coop

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So when it comes to Bourbon production, using a hammer mill for corn, wheat, and rye and a roller mill for barley is the best option?

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Curtis, the basic answer seems to be if you "lauter", a roller mill works well because the husk, of whatever grain, is left reasonably intact.

A hammer mill will usually chop the husk into fine pieces which is OK for fermenting with the grain in the fermenter, but fine milling does not work well for lautering.

I lauter rye. It is a beast to say the least. I recently did a finer grind to see if I could get more extraction but just ended up with a totally "stuck" mash. I ended up shovelling the lot out and feeding it to my sheep.

I have been grinding with old millstones, but I have just purchased a roller mill that is still on its way. I hope this will reduce my lautering time.

Does anyone have any comparisons on wet or dry roller milling?

I suspect that if I soak the grain before I roll, it will keep the husks even more intact.

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PeteB, thank you for a reply. I was thinking of fermenting on the grain and using a seperator before initial stripping run. My thoughts are to utilize space within still on stripping run. So hammer mill with barley is good?

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Bryan

In Scotland we would use a hammer mill for grinding the wheat / barley in grain whisky production with steam injection cooking to 85oC in a continous mashing plant. Grinding with 2 mm baskets. Downside........energy, increased risk of explosion and maintenance costs.

Batch mashing we would use a roller mill to crack a course grist to allow good drainage in the mash tun if you grind to fine you will choke the mash tun with fines......i have seen this done and it can take days to get the mash through.

Buhler supply hammer mills and a good old fashioned roller mill much sought after was made by porteous

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To add another question to the pot, are there any distilleries using a roller mill for corn (or even just purchasing flaked maize)? Or is it pretty well established that it is more desireable to mash corn as a flour? I understand that using hammer mill and a finer grain for corn allows better access to the starches for conversion, but is this a necessary procedure or would it be feasible to simply use a roller mill for all your grains (ie if you were making a corn/barley/rye mash) and achieve the desired starch conversions (enough sugars to achieve typical ~8-10% ABV in 3-5 days fermentation)?

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I can get up to 22-24% abv using My Hammermill. But usually my goal is to aim for 10-15% when you get up into the About 20 is it really alters the flavor.

I love my Hammermill I use it for everything. I would highly suggest that flour is almost too fine for what you want. There's a fine line between going to find into course. If you go to course you won't get the proper conversion. If you go to fine it will be very hard to manage and you will get stuck in every Process.

Here is a real life example for me. I use the quarter inch screen in my Hammermill and I would yield 10 to 12% by volume and I could always get a large amount of alcohol out of the grain, after I would press it And it would be super dry. When I went to the eighth inch screen I got about 13 to 15% alcohol by volume. But when I went to press it it would still be very wet. So I lost the yields on actual volume of product be distilled.

So in conclusion using the quarter inch screen was far superior for actually producing money than using the eighth inch screen than trying to get more yield because of the complications in extracting the alcohol out of the eighth inch screen for me.

The 1/4" screen is like a very very fine corn meal

The 1/8" screen is like a coarse flour

Also the benefit of the Hammermill over the roller mill is speed. I can Hammermill 4000 pounds an hour. That's why I only use my Hammermill about two hours every month.

If you're doing corn on a roller mill you will find that corn is a super coarse-grain and will wear your roller mill out even if it's heat-treated over a period of time it will lose its outside diameter.

Sorry to be long winded! :)

Joseph Dehner

www.dehnerdistillery.com

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Hammermills are the way to go, I would even use one if lautering. Grind size also is dependent on still type, continuous I find likes a finer grind, pot can stand coarser grind.

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What size screen is generally recommended for a hammermil? We will be processing corn, wheat, rye and malted barley. We have access to a roller mill should we want a rougher crush for the barley but plan to mill fairly fine. We will be using a potstill.

TIA

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Hammermills save having to sift. Most larger brewers or distillers in Europe in the past used 2 or 3 high roller mills however rollers mills do not work their best without sifting to get a uniform particle size. When you fine grind with a hammer mill it takes a lot of power per ton ground. A 5/16 hole is common in the screen. Those screens need to be fairly thin so they can be perforated so you need to pay attention to tramp metal or stones.

Roller mills have a much larger capital cost but grind cooler and to a more uniform particle size and use less horse power per ton ground. More and more feed millers are switching back to 3 high roller mills for those reasons. We have a flour mill so we can adjust the grind to fit the desired yield and particle size.

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I'd add that hammer mill maintenance costs are rather high compared to roller mills. Roller mills have a bad reputation because brewers use them...and we all know beer ain't whisky! But a 3 or a 4 roll mill will do every bit as nice a job.

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Any recommendations on an inexpensive 3 roller mill that can do the job for a rough flour grind for corn, wheat, rye? We'd be looking at maximum of 1800LB per day on a mashing day.

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Look for a used Roskamp...I've seen them anywhere from $700-$7000 used.

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