Wet milling remains one of those topics that brewers discuss but rarely encounter in the wild. Once solely the province of the largest craft brewers, in more recent years wet mills have become slightly more common but remain unusual to find in a smaller craft brewery.
In contrast to dry milling, wet mills steep malt in a continuous stream of warm water to allow the grain’s moisture level to rise to a set mark, usually 15 to 20 percent. When a wet mill’s rollers grind the malt, the grain’s husk remains intact and doesn’t fragment. This significantly reduces the amount of dust and debris created and allows for faster run-off time and more loading of the lauter tun. The downsides, beyond cost, include additional cleaning of the mill and its rollers along with an increase in the time required to mill the malt.
We recently spoke with Scott Shirley, the Director of Brewing Operations at Lawson’s Finest Liquids in Vermont, to learn more about his brewery’s experience with a wet mill and hear what advice he has for brewers considering one.