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Making Medieval Beer From Seed Barley

Updated on September 16, 2014
CuAllaidh profile image

Jeff Johnston is a medieval reenactor and avid history fan. He is also the publisher at Living History Publications.

Reproducing Ancient Beer Recipe From Scratch

Recently I managed to get a hold of a good quantity of seed barley, a ridiculous amount, but we won't mention that right now. Now seed barley is not normally what would be used to make beer when doing home brew, normally one would just go out and buy malt all ready to go, but since I am not normal I am going to attempt to brew my first ever batch of beer straight from seed. I intend to malt my own barley and turn it into beer, hopefully it will be tasty beer, but for my first batch I would be satisfied with drinkable.

This article will track my progress. Please check back often.

Image source


If this is my first brew why am I starting from scratch like this and not using a kit? Simply because I can. Sure I could start by buying a kit and brewing at a U-Brew, but what's the fun in that? I do projects like this to learn how its done, if I used a kit I am skipping huge chunks of the process, to me it is more logical to start from the basics and possibly use the short cut methods later on.

Besides I am a history geek, and historically the beers brewed were significantly different than most modern brews, it would be hard to brew a beer using a historical recipe using modern mixes. Most medieval and older recipes did not include hops, while hops are now considered an integral part of brewing. My hope is to end up with a beverage that is almost identical to the ales that would have been brewed in the Medieval Times.

As to why use seed and not specific malt barley, malt barley is the same but just very controlled and very carefully selected for protein content and other specific markers. I will be using seed for three reasons,

  1. It's what I have

  2. it's cheap

  3. It's more historically representative of what most brewers would have used

Recipe Source

A Sip Through Time: A Collection Of Old Brewing Recipes
A Sip Through Time: A Collection Of Old Brewing Recipes

I will be using a recipe from my all time favourite source of brewing recipes. Yes I am that much of a geek that I have a favourite source, what's your point? Moving on!

I have not chosen exactly which recipe I will be using, but when I do I will post it. For now I am primarily interested in how to turn my freshly obtained barley seed into malt for brewing.


Do You Brew?

Have you ever brewed your own beer?

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Web Resources For Malting

Now the question is how do I take grain seed and turn that into malt. Luckily my old friend the Interwebs has all the answers. I have collected a few links to sites that tell me exactly how to produce my own malt from seed. As I go through the process myself I will be taking tons of pictures and videos of the process myself and will add them to this article.

Have You Malted

Have you ever malted barley from seed?

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Brew Master's Corner

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    • CuAllaidh profile image

      Jeff Johnston 4 years ago from Alberta Canada

      @anonymous: Thanks Tipi :D

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      What a fun journey you have planned here...inviting others to join in with a FB like....cheers! :)

    • profile image

      Scott A McCray 4 years ago

      Yep - check my lenses for the method I use. I plan to try malting from scratch, too.

    • Cynthia Haltom profile image

      Cynthia Haltom 4 years ago from Diamondhead

      This sounds like a fun hobby and you can drink it when it's done. I used to make wine but have not tried to do beer yet.