Fifty Shades of Grain?

I am a big fan of irony. I had this idea to brew a batch with a cornucopia of different varieties and forms of grains, as my Autumnal Equinox brew. A harvest ale that would reflect the richness and diversity of the season. So I looked online to see what other people had brewed with, to get some ideas. First result returned by my search engine? My own BYO article from several years ago! I didn’t even remember having written it until that moment. Can I say that it was a very helpful article, without seeming smug?

This recipe contains twelve different grains, in seventeen different packages. Six malts, five flaked grains and six different whole grains needing to be pre-cooked. I can’t tell you specifically what each component adds to the mix, but the resulting wort tastes nutty, bready and sweet. I expect it will be a semi-cloudy beer in the end, just because of all the unmalted flaked grains. I opted for two German hops and an English yeast, seeking noble flavors and malt-forward sweetness, and rounded out the kettle with some invert sugar (golden syrup) just in case my mash was inefficient.

I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly and efficiently my lauter and sparge went – normally with this much flaked grain material, the whole thing can glue together and make a very slow runoff. I credit the malted oats, as their grain hulls stayed relatively whole after milling, creating a nice filter bed.

Green Man Mabon Ale

5 gallons, all-grain


  • 2 lbs. malted oats
  • 1-1/2 lbs. malted rye
  • 1-1/2 lbs. malted spelt
  • 1 lb. malted red wheat
  • 2 lbs. 2-row pale malt
  • 1/2 lb. carapils malt
  • 1/2 lb. flaked wheat
  • 1/2 lb. flaked barley
  • 1 lb. flaked oats
  • 1 lb. flaked rye
  • 1 lb. flaked maize
  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • 1/4 cup amaranth
  • 1/2 cup millet
  • 1/4 cup black quinoa
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat
  • 1/2 cup emmer
  • 1 tin (454 g) Lyle’s Golden Syrup
  • 1 oz. German Tradition hop pellets
  • 1 oz. whole Sterling hops
  • White Labs English Ale Yeast (WLP002)
  • 2/3 cup corn sugar (for priming)


Brew Day Eve: Cook the rice, amaranth, millet, quinoa, buckwheat and emmer in about 4 cups water for 30 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed and the grains are chewy. Leave covered overnight.

Brew Day: Crush the malts. Heat 17 quarts water to 165°F. Dough in malts, stir well. Add flaked grains, stir again. Add cooked grains, mix into malts and flakes. Cover and hold at 154°F for 75 minutes. Heat 15 quarts water to 169°F. Begin runoff and sparge, collecting 28 quarts sweet wort. Add Golden Syrup to kettle, bring to a boil. Add Tradition hops, boil 60 minutes. Add Sterling hops (in mesh bag), turn off heat. Steep for ten minutes then remove bag of hops. Chill to 80°F, take a hydrometer reading. Pour into a sanitized fermenter, splashing well to aerate. Pitch yeast, seal and ferment 10 days at 68°F. Rack to secondary, condition cooler (58 – 60°F) for two weeks. Prime with corn sugar and bottle, condition three weeks at 60°F.

OG: 1060

IBUs: 34

Note on grains: As was the case for an ancient Egyptian-style clone I brewed a few months ago, I had to malt the spelt myself, as I could not obtain malted spelt from any of my usual sources. I placed the spelt in a quart mason jar with a perforated sprouting top on it and soaked the grains for 24 hours, drained the liquid and allowed the grains to sprout over the course of several days, rinsing and draining once a day. When I began to see small sprouts at the ends of the majority of the grains, I spread them on a baking sheet and dried them in the oven set at 170°, with the door open. It took about 4 hours to dry, then I left them in the closed oven for 24 hours. I thought about trying to do the same with the rice, amaranth, quinoa, etc. but decided it was too much work. Those interested in growing or malting their own grains may want to check out the chapter in Joe & Dennis Fisher’s book “The Homebrewer’s Garden”.

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