Advise on mashing and fermenting rye

edited June 2018 in General


I haven't mashed or fermented 100% rye before.
I know it can be a little troublesome, I have heard to help keep it calm is to mash it in hot water, rather than a lower temp.

Any advice or direction on how to mash and ferment rye properly would be real helpful.




  • rye grain or rye malt?

    depends on your equipment, if you are using steam, with an agitator, I would step up from low temp and let enzymes break down the stickiness as it is created...

    I would use all three enzymes, visco-buster, optimash,. and ultra-ferm...

    I have a neighboring brewery do my 55% rye malt 45% barley malt mashes, they lauter, sparge, and a short boil before whirlpooling and cooling to 70 for me. I have used DADY and red star off the shelf with similar results

    to go to rye grain, I would need a mill and a mash cooker... someday...

  • edited June 2018

    @CothermanDistilling Thanks for the advice. I will look at those points.

    I have rye malt I was going to play around with. Do you think there is a discussion around whether rye grain and rye malt together are better? If so is that due to the taste of the end product or how rye reacts when mashing and fermenting

    I was thinking of playing around with 100% rye whiskey

  • Corsair 'Rymageddon' and Kozuba 'Mr. Rye' are both 100% rye and I like them...

    you will find no shortage of opinions on rye vs rye malt, I have only tried malted at this point, so I have no basis for a real opinion other than this: "If you can make the product you like with un-malted grain, you will save a lot of money"

  • edited June 2018

    We use 100% unmalted rye that is grown specifically for us by a local farmer. For us, it was more important to be local.

    It’s fantastic, we are releasing a 2 year straight rye in a few months.

    Unmalted rye is fruitier and less assertive than malted rye in my opinion.

  • @CothermanDistilling very true, savings are a good thing :)

    @grim How do you go about mashing your rye, do you start high to keep any foaming or aggressive ferments down?

  • Start low and increase temperature doing a pretty typical multi-step mash with the appropriate enzyme at each step.

  • edited June 2018

    Do you think these steps would be a worthwhile starting place

    • 6 gallons water
    • 10 lbs crushed rye
    • Add grain at 115F strike temp.
    • Rest at 110F for 15mins.
    • Gently bring up to 154F for 15 mins.
    • Let temp fall to 147F for beta amylase.
    • Rest for 45 mins.
    • Bring temp up to 158F for Alpha amylase.
    • Hold for 30 mins.
  • try it on the stove with .6gal and 1lb...

  • Will give that a try. Do you think the mashing steps are fine, or can I better it?

  • edited June 2018
    • Rest at 110 for 20 minutes (Glucan Rest)
    • Rest at 136 for 20 minutes (Protein Rest)
    • Rest at 152 for 90 minutes
  • edited June 2018

    Protein rest will help reduce the foaming associated with Rye by breaking down the proteins that contribute to foaming. Typically with brewing, you aren't using a protein rest in this fashion, as it will kill the head retention of the beer. But - remember, thick foamy head in a beer, is a disaster in the still. So while a brewer might advise against the protein rest - as is going to create a very thin, watery, no-head beer - that's exactly what we want.

  • Thick, foamy head in the ferment tank can end up on the floor. Leave lots of room with rye and or use an anti foam designed for use in the ferment stage.

    DAD... not yours.. ah, hell... I don't know...

  • Totally agree. Thanks for the rest temps and periods, will be very helpful in stopping any major incidents hopefully.

  • Did I ever post the picture of the rye that blew out of the top of my fermenter?

    What a mess.

  • Yeah, i did see that! Did you work out why that happened?

  • Cap formed in the gummy rye, co2 built up under the cap, pushed the damn thing right out.

  • We have mixers on our fermenters, now we program to agitate every few hours to keep a heavy cap from forming.

  • That's a good idea! Especially if you have a dense foam

  • What is the ideal roller settings for crushing the rye grain?

  • edited July 2018

    We just hammer milled rye to nearly flour (first time running rye on the big mill) and had a 25% increase in starting gravity (1.09 vs 1.07). We'll see if that carries through to yield.

    Malted rye cracks fine in a roller mill - keep it very tight. However, unmalted rye mills very poorly in a roller mill. It tends to pinch and crimp, requiring multiple passes.

    Rye (51%+) will not lauter, so you aren't milling/keeping grain size large and husk intact for lauterability reasons.

  • Thats good, I have a stone mill I can use for that. I will be doing 100% rye using unmalted rye.

    All makes sense, excited to try this out.

  • @grim said: We just hammer milled rye to nearly flour (first time running rye on the big mill) and had a 25% increase in starting gravity (1.09 vs 1.07). We'll see if that carries through to yield.

    What screen size did you decide on?

  • edited July 2018

    I bought the 1/8th on a whim, but I think maybe it's a touch too fine - going to order the next size up. I don't mind the flour, but I think a larger particle size may mean a little less dust.

    The 3/8th the mill came with - too big. Ok for rough crack corn, not ideal for rye. Too much whole grain falls through.

    Maybe I'll try 3/16", since I think the 1/4" might be too large for rye.

  • edited July 2018

    The way I have it set up is mostly dust free so that’s not an issue.

    I initially got the 3/16 which left a lot of largish chunks. I then got the 1/8th but it still leaves particles big enogh to clog my spray balls. I was actually thinking of getting a 1/16 since I’m sick of cleaning spray balls, but I think that might bog down the 10hp motor too much. With the 1/8 the mill easily overpowers the auger though.

    Finding the perfect balance between milling, angering, and hydrating isn’t easy. I’ll probably leave well enough alone.

  • Have you got a pic of your augering setup, and maybe some insight? We'll be in need of an auger pretty soon, and I've been looking at plastic screw agricultural gear.

    Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller

    my book, Making Fine Spirits

  • edited July 2018

    Your mill has a 360' screen right? And gravity discharge?

    I've got a standard 180' screen and have blower discharge.

    Probably going to be a little bit different.

  • edited July 2018

    Yes, 360 and gravity.

    @zymergybob, I'll try to get you some pics. Basically its a 10' 45 degree auger starting at the bottom of the mill and dropping through this (which by the way is a kick ass price).

  • How well does that hydrator work?

  • I've done a couple of trial batches and both have turned out the same, i've ended up with what looks like wall paste, a thick liquid. I have did the steps mentioned by grim. Am I missing or doing something obvious to cause this?

  • edited July 2018

    Remind me.

    Are you dosing beta-glucanase for the glucan and protein rests? Product like Viscobuster, Bioglucanase GB/TX, SebFlo TL, etc).

    This will help, but a 100% rye mash will not run liquid and clear like straight barley malt.

    Keep in mind, the fact that American whiskies like bourbon and rye use grain-in processes versus European whiskies wasn't that Americans just wanted to do it differently, it's that the Europeans that came here quickly realized it was impossible to effectively lauter Corn and Rye, thus was born grain-in, out of necessity.

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