Jump to content

Rye Mash Foam


Recommended Posts

I have been having foaming problems with a rye whiskey mash during fermentation. The first several batches I had no problems with. The last batch of rye that I got has been a nightmare!! The grain bill is 90% rye and 10% malted barley. Barley is flour and rye is fine grind (almost flour). I have adjusted ph up and down 4.8-6.1 as well as pitch temp 75-90. Any help will be greatly appreciated.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Rye has a lot of protein in it. Glucans and the sorts. For some reason rye ferments are much more vigorous and ferment dry much faster than, say, corn. Here's how we handle it (we do a lot of rye):

- Make sure your fermenter has a good amount of headspace. I try to aim for around 15-20% of empty capacity with a ferment in the tank.

- Pitch at a low temp, but not too low. We pitch around 85 deg F. If we pitch over that we, almost guaranteed, get a boil over within 12 hours. Under 85 by much adds a whole day to the fermentation speed.

- defoamer should help, but I honestly haven't found one that has changed the issue that much.

- enzymes. Make sure youre using a betaglucanase that can break down beta glucan. If you don't, your mash will be viscous and difficult to work with. It may also retain CO2 from fermentation more and cause more foaming. Just a guess. With that much rye I see it as a requirement to have a good betaglucanase on hand (we use sebflo from specialty enzymes).

- Look at a less aggressive yeast strain.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In over 5 years I have only once had a foam issue with fermenting rye. That was when I used malted barley for the enzymes

I do 100% rye and use my own green malted rye. I have never dried the malt to test my theory but I suspect it is the green malt that acts as an anti-foam.

If anyone here would like to malt their own rye it is very easy. All you need are some plastic buckets and a meat grinder.

If you would like the instructions please reply to this post, then you will know if green malt fixes the foam.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Producing Green Rye Malt (bucket method)

( a fresh batch of green malt needs to be done for each mashing)

I do 20% of my grain but I expect that 15% or even 10% would do if malted under ideal conditions, but I am being cautious.

A very easy way is to almost fill (2 inches from top) enough plastic buckets with the required amount of grain.

Fill the buckets to top with water and leave for about 8 hours, no longer than 12.

Use a bucket lid with holes drilled in it (or some other type of strainer) to empty all the water.

Keep in a reasonably cool area. High quality rye malt is produced at about 10 deg C but it works OK at higher temps.

leave another 12 hours then get another empty bucket and tip the wet grain into new bucket so grain from top of bucket ends up in bottom of next bucket. Wet grain from the bottom of the original bucket will end up on the top and a little water will permeate the dryer grain below.

Repeat this every 8 to 12 hours. Add a very small amount of water if there is none in the bottom of a bucket when you tip it.

After about 24 hours you should see the first signs of the rye sprouting.

The grain will swell with water and again when the roots and acrospires start emerging. You will eventually need 3 times the original buckets .

The grain will start to get warm after about day 2 so if convenient it would be better to tip more regularly to disperse the heat.

Repeat for about 3-4 days or until the average acrospires (yellow-green fat sprout) are almost the same length of the grain. (take no notice of the length of the thinner white roots)

Grind the malt, roots and all, in a meat grinder, or some type of wet mill. My roller mill is not suitable for wet milling.

Use the malt within a few hours or it will start to ferment. (I occasionally bag up the finished un-ground malt and put in freezer for a day or so if I get the timing wrong)

  • Thumbs up 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Producing Green Rye Malt (floor malting)

Soak (steep) the rye grain for 8 hours in buckets or a larger vessel.

Drain and leave 8-12 hours. Soak with water again for another 5 or so hours then drain and spread about 3 inches deep on floor.

Keep moist with water spray. Cover with burlap = best, or loose fitting plastic can help keep the top moist.

Turn the grain with a shovel (or hands if small quantity) every 12 hours until it gets warm then turn and spray more regularly as it warms up.

(Rye has no husk so it soaks up water quicker than barley, but it also dries out quickly so it is important to keep up the water spray)

Grind it up when the average acrospires are almost same length as the grain.

(Floor malting probably produces better quality malt because it is easier to control the temperature but the bucket method is so easy especially if you have limited space and only need a small quantity)

  • Thumbs up 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Producing Green Rye Malt (Laundromat method) ( the most photographed part of my distillery)

I no longer use the bucket or floor methods because I have built an automatic system using an old commercial clothes dryer. I can do about 40 Kg ?? pounds at a time.

The drum is lined with fine stainless mesh because the original holes are too large.

There is a small plastic microjet garden sprinkler fitted through the door to keep grain moist.

Motor gearing has been changed so drum turns slowly. It is also on a timer so it switches on about every hour and gives the grain a squirt of water.

Drum is loaded with dry grain and timer switched on. I return 2 days later in summer (4 days in winter) and it is finished.

(I sometimes pre-soak the grain if I need to get more batches out per week)

If I need to peat smoke the grain I light some peat in the space below the drum.

When I malt barley I dry it by turning on HEAT and speed up the drum.

I am currently building a larger drum to do about half ton batches.

  • Thumbs up 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Have you tried antifoam? Fermcap-S

I have not tried any fermcap-s. As I understand it is used for boil over foam control. Does it also work for controlling fermentation foam?

I do have some seb-flo coming to give it a try.

Thanks for all the input. I will update after my next batch of rye.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...