Can I Use Rye & Peated Grains?

Question

I’ve recently gained access to a supplier that has Rye grain and grains which have been kilned over a peat fire. These are typically used in making rye whisky and scotch respectively, but I was wondering if they could be used to make beer before and what styles they would be best suited to. I was thnking of something robust like a stout or red irish ale or heavy english bitter. Any input or ideas?

Answer

Peat smoked malt in a Scotch ale isn’t bad if it is not done too heavy handed. Might also make for a nice smoked porter, but not something you want to drink all of the time.

Your plan to use just a little of this malt the first time is probably best. You need to get a feel for using peat smoked malt because other than blending beers there really is not way to undo a beer that has been “over smoked”.

In terms of rye malt I have heard stories from a friend who tried making a nearly full batch of rye malt ale. Rye is similar to wheat in that it does not have husks. Without husks the grain bed can become a mess causing stuck sparges.

Generally, that amount of rye malt most people use doesn’t comprise more that about 10-20% of the total fermentables. As a result,the stuck sparge scenario is nearly as bad as my friend’s experience. However, when using rye malt you might want to throw in some rice or oak husks to help form a nice filter bed.

You might not have any problems without the husks but stuck sparges are no fun at all and can add hours on to your brewing session so proceed with caution.