I decided to put a small capital investment into the brewery this week.  I’ve been concerned about my mash efficiency for some time now.  I’ve been getting my grains crushed from the online brew stores at who knows what setting.  When I go to the LHBS (Local Home Brew Shop for you n00bs) I’m concerned at the cleanliness and the fact that who knows what grains are getting mixed in with mine.  There is always a lot of flour dust floating around.    I also didn’t like the fact that my crushed grains could sit around for up to 2-3 weeks during shipping and while waiting for my brew day.  I was also restricted from buying grain in bulk because I wasn’t able to crush the grains at home. 

Okay, obvious reasons with an obvious solution – buy a malt mill.

I did research on the topic in my OCD manner. 

Here’s the mill I want, thanks to a mention from TiMX on the BeerTribe.com forum -> “The MashMaster MillMaster“.  Note that is is adjustable on both ends, has large diameter case hardened rollers, is rust free and both rollers are gear driven.  Unfortunately it’s manufactured in Australia and minimally costs $119.00 to ship if you’re willing to wait 2-3 months!  You can get it faster if you’re willing to pay $204, $287, $346 or $423 in SHIPPING COSTS!  Okay, maybe next time.  It’s a beautifully designed grain mill.

The mill I settled on is the Schmidling Malt Mill for several reasons.  It has a nice long roller (10″ long, 1 1/2″ diameter, the largest in the home-brew industry).  The exact model I got has the following options:

  • MaltMill, Model A $143.00
  • Gear Driven Option $50.00
  • Large Hopper Adapter $29.00
  • Case Hardened Roller $30.00
  • Shipping and Handling $18.00

Total with Taxes: $270.00. 

Okay, so that was a little pricey!!  I really wanted the stainless steel rollers, but couldn’t see how you order them.  They were mentioned in the descriptor page.  So, what are the features of this malt mill?

The MALTMILL will process a pound of grain in less than 15 seconds and enough for a five gallon batch in under five minutes with the hand crank. When motorized, it can crush at a rate in excess of 1000 lbs per hour. At 400 RPM, it takes 3.3 seconds to crush one pound. It is designed to sit on top of a bucket or mash tun so that the milled product falls in and any dust created is contained. It can also be bolted or clamped to a work table for more stable or permanent operation.

The MALTMILL is provided with a nominal spacing of .045″ between the rollers. This produces an excellent crush on all commonly used malt. An adjustable version is available for those who perceive the need for additional flexibility . The roller journals ride in oil-impregnated bronze bearings, pressed into aluminum castings. A coarse textured surface on the rollers prevents the grain from slipping and is the key to providing an efficient mill at far less cost then conventional multiple stage roller mills.

For additional efficiency, in high volume operations, a Gear Drive Option (GDO) is available to drive the passive roller directly from the driven roller through precision-ground, steel gears. These gears have different numbers of teeth, to provide a differential rotational rate for the rollers.

The standard rollers are fabricated from cold rolled steel. The crushing surface is 10″ long and 1-1/2″ in diameter, the largest in the home brew industry. Unlike some competing mills using hollow tubes, the MALTMILL rollers are turned down from solid bar stock. The bearing journals and drive shaft are integral to the roller and offer the ultimate in reliability. Stainless steel rollers are available as an option (where?) for use in humid, salty environments or where required by local codes. We also offer case hardened rollers for the very high volume commercial user to eliminate the need to return the rollers for re-knurling.

That was copied from the link provided above.  My only concern with this mill is that the Model A (the only mill that provided the gear driven option for the secondary roller) is only adjustable on one side.  I assume that’s the side opposite of the gears.  This means that any adjustment is going to cause a gap that varies over the length of the rollers.  Wider or more narrow at one end then the at the other.  You need to be able to adjust on both ends to get the rollers parallel, with a consistent gap.  You can do this and still have a gear drive option with a little bit of engineering.  You just need to have the gap setting that curves along the gear.  Hopefully the factory gap setting will be perfect and I won’t need to worry about it.  A .045″ gap seems to be fairly close to the factory setting for all the malt crushers I looked at.  Maybe I should consult George Fix’s write up on optimal grain crushing.

Another mill I looked at was “The Barley Crusher” which had good features and a really decent price tag on it (base price $114.00 at the site, + $17.50 shipping for the 7# hopper, the 15# hopper is slightly more.)

  • Rollers are adjustable at both ends to keep the gap spacing parallel giving a uniform crush along the entire length of the rollers.
  • The gap default setting is marked and set at .039 at assembly. Adjustment range is from .015 to .070 thousands of an inch.
  • The rollers have a 12 TPI knurl to efficiently pull the grain through the rollers while leaving the hull intact to form an excellent filter bed for sparging.
  • Comes with a solid base with locators to center the Barley Crusher on a 5 gallon plastic pail. (Pail not included)
  • The standard hopper holds an even 7 pounds and the optional large hopper holds 15 pounds. Using a 3/8 drillmotor at 500 RPM gives you a crush rate of 6 pounds a minute making the big grain bills fast and easy.
  • The Barley Crusher is shipped fully assembled. There are no adapters needed to use a 3/8 drill motor.
  • I did read on several discussion forums that this was a good grinder, but it needs to be disassembled when the slave roller stops turning.  Apparently cleaning the bushings and reassembling will correct the problem.  I didn’t like the idea of having a passive roller in the first place so I started looking for a model which drove both rollers.

    Non-contenders – Crankandstein Grain Mill (lack of a gear drive), the MoreBeer Grain Gobbler (lack of details available) and the Victoria/Corona Grain Mill which I’ve heard nothing good about.

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