Buying a Mill to Crush Grain at Home

Moving from extract to all-grain brewing is a natural progression of the lifecycle of a homebrewer.  And often, when you make the jump to all-grain brewing, you realize that you could save a LOT of money if you were to buy the grains you use most often in bulk, instead of by the pound at your local homebrew store each time you want to brew.

But if you buy grain in bulk, you get stuck with another problem – you have to mill it yourself.  When you buy it at the store, you can use their mill, or better yet, a helpful store expert will mill it for you.  Their mill is likely set at an ideal setting and is free to use.  Buuut, if you had your own mill, you could crush your grain right before you brew so it was totally fresh, along with having the ability to buy grain in bulk.

OK, so you’re in.  You’ve decided to buy a grain mill.  But which one to get?  There are so many options out there – what qualities make a good mill?  And why are some so much more expensive!?

Let’s start with the basics:

  1. Look for a mill that you can connect to an electric drill or even motorize.  You will not enjoy hand-cranking your mill to crush your grain after about the second time.
  2. Decide if you want adjustable rollers so that you can set the gap between the rollers to your own taste.  While this sounds great, adjustable ones often have to be tinkered with and occasionally work out of line, whereas a set non-adjustable gap is already at the ideal spot and is less likely to move.  It’s really a personal preference.
  3. What material is the mill made of? The stronger the metal, the longer it will provide you with a good steady, reliable crush.
  4. How many rollers does the mill have? 2 rollers is almost always sufficient, but if you want that supurb crush and you’re willing to shell out the bucks, then a 3-roller mill will insure a great crush.
  5. How big is the hopper?  If you’re brewing 10 gallon batches or even high-gravity 5 gallon batches, you will want a mill with a large hopper.  It is a nice convenience that doesn’t add a ton to the price.
  6. Does it come on a stand/base, or will you have to build something yourself?  If you’re handy, you can construct a nice platform for the mill, or even a milling cabinet, but if you aren’t the DIY-type, look to spend a few extra dollars for a mill with a base that fits over a bucket.

Ok, so you have a lot of options, and you’re starting to understand why certain mills cost more, but which ones are the best?  Which mills are worth the extra bucks, and which aren’t?

To be totally honest, almost everyone I ask loves the mill they have.  They get used to it, they learn it, and they are happy with it’s performance once they get it tuned in.  You don’t see many negative reviews.  But, just to help you out, here are a few of the more popular grain mills, their price, and some pros and cons:

 

The Barley Crusher

7 lb hopper or 15 lb hopper

  • 1018 Cold Rolled Steel rollers
  • 6061 Aluminum mill body and hopper
  • Solid base with locators to center the Barley Crusher on a 5 gallon plastic bucket
  • Rollers are adjustable on both ends.  Adjustment range is from .015 to .070 thousands of an inch.  Default is .039 and is marked
  • The standard hopper holds 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
  • Shipped fully assembled
  • Also from Adventures in Homebrewing

 

Monster Mill

The 2-roller mill or the 3-roller mill

  • Dual eccentric adjusters: 0 to .070″ gap
  • Fully adjustable mill
  • 6 lbs / minute
  • 1.5″ diameter 6″ long steel rollers
  • Alloy frame
  • Sold as just a mill, but several accessories are also available separately

 

Cereal Killer Grain Mill

Cereal killer grain mill

(on sale at Adventures in Homebrewing)

  • 2 roller mill
  • Hardened steel roller size is 5″ long and 1.25″ diameter
  • Marked adjustable roller gap
  • 7 lb hopper
  • Wood base
  • Anodized aluminum body
  • Remove the handle with one screw and attach drill, no adapter needed
  • FREE SHIPPING from Adventures in Homebrewing

 

There are plenty of other mills out there, so don’t count out the others, but you can’t go wrong with these three options.  It just depends on how deep your wallet is and what features you think are most important.  So good luck, and happy brewing!