The Best Grain Mills For Homebrewing – Who “Crushes” The Competition?

putting barley in a grain mill hopper

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Home brewing is a wonderful hobby in that you can be an active participant or you can just set it up, press buttons, and let automated technology do all the work.

For those of us who enjoy more of a “hands-on” approach when it comes to the beer brewing process, we know that controlling the size of the grain is an important step when brewing all-grain or BIAB.  Getting your hands on one of the best grain mills for homebrewing is definitely worth the investment when it comes to making the freshest and most consistent craft beer.

Whole or crushed grains can be purchased directly from online retailers and local home brew shops, but there are a number of reasons why we think it is rewarding and satisfying to crush the grains ourselves.

Table of Contents

The Best Grain Mills For Homebrewing

What Is A Grain Mill

Grain mills are extremely important for the active home brewer. Whether you brew in a bag or use an all in one brewing system, those grains need crushing. Each brewing system requires a different consistency of mash, and grain mills can handle your specific needs.

During the mash, grains are crushed so fermentable sugars can be extracted. Malt is ground by a mill to make for an efficient mash. During the crush the grain husk is split and the contents of the kernel are pulverized. These contents are called the grits.

The important part is maintaining a balance between the pulverized grits and the intact husks. A grain mill has the settings to achieve your perfect crush.

Northern Brewer Hullwrecker 2-Roller Grain Mill

This two-roller grain mill is by trusted manufacturer Northern Brewer. It comes with an 7 pound hopper, and has a crush rate of six pounds a minute.

The base is made of heavy-duty metal, and has hardened steel rollers that are 1.5 inches in diameter. It features sealed ball-bearings instead of bushings.

The adjustable roller gap spacing will easily adjust from 0.025″ all the way up to 0.10″, to give you the perfect size crushed grain you are looking for.  Making it easy to crush the grains directly into a bucket, it comes with a metal base that is designed to fit on a 5 or 6.5-gallon plastic bucket.

The crank handle has a rubberized handle for better comfort, but a drill can be easily attached for less manual labor if you don’t feel like getting in an arm workout that day.

Hullwrecker Pros

  • Excellent value for the money
  • Sturdy and durable construction
  • Simple to use

Hullwrecker Cons

  • Un-milled grains can mall between the rollers and the base

Barley Crusher With 7-Pound Capacity Hopper

This Barley Crusher has been one of the more popular grain mills on the market for years. It’s affordable, well designed with an aluminum frame, and easy to use. The seven pound hopper is a decent size, not overwhelmingly large but enough for most home brewing needs.

The 5-inch dual rollers are made of hardened steel that will crush the grain while leaving the husk behind.  It comes with a default gap setting of .039, but can be adjusted anywhere from .015 to .070.

The hopper is made of aluminum and can hold up to seven pounds of grain.  If you would like your mill to hold more grain, the Barley Crusher is also available in a 15-pound hopper size.

It comes standard with a hand crank but a cordless drill can be used without any additional adapters. If you use a drill motor at 500 RPM you can process up to six pounds of grain a minute.

Barley Crusher Pros

  • Well priced
  • Gap size is easy to adjust
  • Easy to clean

Barley Crusher Cons

  • Roller diameter is smaller than other similar models

Monster Mill MM3 Grain Mill With Base

This three roller grain mill is made by Monster Brewing Hardware, and another high quality product. It has a large hopper that can handle up to 11-pounds of grain.  The three hardened steel rollers are 1-1/2 inches in diameter, and 6-inches long. which helps you personalize and fine-tune the size of the grain, while crushing up to 8-pounds a minute.

Able to rotate clockwise or counter-clockwise, the grains are crushed twice as they run through the three roller mill.  The first pass through the rollers only slightly flattens the grain, while the next pass break apart the grains and loosens the starch without any substantial damage to the husk.

It is built to last with an aluminum block frame and durable steel rollers that will allow you to process between 12,000 and 15,000 pounds of grain.

This grain mill is designed to be “motorized” with an electric drill for maximum efficiency, but a 3/8″ crank handle can be used, but it is not included.

Monster Mill MM3 Pros

  • High-quality construction
  • Great for larger batches
  • Clockwise or counter-clockwise crank

Monster Mill MM3 Cons

  • More expensive than similar models
  • The crank handle is not included

Kegco KM11GM-3R Grain Mill With 11-Pound Hopper

This 3-roller grain mill from Kegco is a reliable option, featuring an alloy block frame and three steel rollers. The mill works both clockwise and counter-clockwise directions. It comes with a traditional hand crank, but it can be converted to use a standard motorized drill with a 1/2′ or 3/8″ chuck for the crush.

The aluminum hopper holds eleven pounds of grains. The top two rollers have a fixed gap, but the gap spacing between the drive roller and the 3rd roller has an adjustment range of .070 inches.

Adjusting is extremely simple: loosen the adjustment screws, adjust the gap, then tighten again.  It has an average output of 8 pounds per minute.

Even though a base is pictured, it is not included with the grain mill.  A mounting base can be purchased separately or easily made with a piece of wood, or the plastic lid from a fermentation bucket.

Kegco KM11GM-3R Pros

  • Large 11-pound hopper
  • Easy to adjust
  • Better efficiency when using a drill

Kegco KM11GM-3R Cons

  • Mounting base not included
  • Gap setting instructions are needed

Homebrewers Outpost 3-Roller Malt Muncher

This three roller Malt Muncher from Homebrewers Outpost comes with a 12 pound hopper, cold rolled steel rollers, and a hand crank which can be removed to use an optional customized motor or power drill.

The adjustable 5-inch rollers give a gap a range of zero to 0.063 inches. The 12 TPI knurl pulls the grain through the rollers but keeps the hulls intact.

The body is made from 6061 aluminum to keep the malt mill rust-free, and the Malt Muncher 3 comes with a one year warranty. An optional bamboo base board is available that is stronger than plywood or particle board bases.

Homebrewers Outpost Pros

  • 8-pounds a minute crush rate
  • Made of 6060 aluminum
  • Consistent grain crush

Homebrewers Outpost Cons

  • Some assembly is required
  • Base is not included

Ferroday 2-Roller Malt Mill and Grain Crusher

This 2-roller malt mill by Ferroday is made of stainless steel, aluminum alloy, and pine is an efficient and reliable classic. Also, at 6.6 pounds, is one of the lighter models on the market.

The hopper is slightly larger than average and can handle 7.7 pounds of grains. It is designed to crush wheat, barley, and malt, but not intended for corn or soybeans. The two rollers are made of steel and can be adjusted to a range of 0.025 to 0.1 of an inch.

And, like other models, you can ditch the hand crank and easily connect your 3/8″ low-speed drill for an average output of 7-pounds a minute.

The rollers and screws are made from food-grade stainless steel, and the hopper and crank handle is made from anti-corrosion aluminum.  Also, the included wooden base will fit on a standard 5-gallon fermenting bucket.

The Ferroday Malt Mill is reasonably priced in the middle of the range of similar models.

Ferroday Pros

  • Lifetime customer support
  • Base is included
  • Good effieciency

Ferroday Cons

  • The gap setting is not always accurate

Barley Mill Stainless 2 Roller

This 2 roller stainless steel barley mill is a budget priced piece of brewing equipment to your home brew lab, and certainly can get the job done with the 7-pound hopper capacity.

The two rollers are 1.25″ in diameter, 5″ long, and made of hardened steel. The marked rollers can be adjusted easily just by loosening screws.

It comes with a crank handle that has a 3/8″ diameter shaft that can be easily adapted for use with a drill when milling grains.  For best performance, a speed of 250 RPMs is recommended.

Although a base is not included, you can mill directly into a fermenting bucket when it is easily mounted to the lid.

Barley Mill Pros

  • One of the more affordable options
  • Easy to assemble

Barley Mill Cons

  • Small roller diameter

Reasons Why You Should Mill Your Own Grains

Most amateur home-brewers start with the bare minimum equipment with a basic beer brewing kit.  The more often you brew, you begin adding pieces of brewing equipment little by little, an looking for more consistency and better efficiency on brew day.

If you are moving from extract brewing to all-grain or BIAB (brew in a bag) adding a grain mill to your equipment list would most definitely be a worthwhile investment.

There are quite a few reasons why you should check out purchasing a grain mill.

Saves Money When Buying Grain In Bulk

Saving money is always a good thing, and the savings will start to add up over time. Buying un-crushed grain in bulk at a discount is much cheaper than buying small quantities every time you want to brew a batch of beer.

Many times you can save more money by ordering bulk malt online, but it might end up costing you more in the long run because of the shipping fees. If you have a local homebrew shop near where you live, you can usually order in bulk through them.

piggy bank with coins

Fresher Ingredients Make Better Beer

Using the freshest ingredients in any recipe will always taste better, including beer. Using fresh grains and hops is one of the most important things you can do when making your own craft beer.

Grains that have not been milled have a longer shelf live and last longer than buying pre-crushed grains. Being able to crush the grains a day or two before brewing day will ensure that you have the freshest grains possible.

fresh barley and hops

Grain Size

Having the ability to control the grain crush is big factor when it comes to efficiency.  Many home brew shops will crush the grains for you, but they are usually a middle of the road setting.

For those who like to BIAB, being able to adjust the rollers to the finest setting is beneficial, but for those that like to use the all-in-one brewing systems, a very fine crush can be a problem.

Once you know the perfect setting, you will be able to have consistency each and every time you brew.

Storing The Grains

If you plan on buying in bulk, you will need to store the grains until you are ready to mill.

Un-crushed grains can be stored for up to a year, if they are in the right conditions. The grains should be stored at the right temperature, away from heat, sunlight, moisture, and of course oxygen.

One way to keep your malt fresh is to use a stackable airtight pet food container which is big enough to handle a 50 -55 pound bag of grain.

If you want to mill your grains more than a few days in advance, you can use a vacuum sealer and make smaller individual packages of crushed grains that are ready to go anytime you are.  A vacuum sealer is also good to store your hops as well.

Things To Look For In A Grain Mill

Like anything, there are always things to take into consideration before making a purchase.

With a grain mill, there are usually two main things to think about.

  • Two or Three Rollers
  • Manual or Electric

Two or Three Crush Rollers

For the average homebrewer, a two-roller grain mill will be more than enough for most jobs, but sometimes it might take two passes to get the desired crush.

A grain mill with three rollers will basically crush the grains twice, and will separate the starch from the husk in just one pass.  Roller #1 and #2 will lightly smash the grain using a fixed roller gap, and then the bottom #3 roller will work with the drive roller to finish the process without too much damage to the husk.

Manual Crank Or Electric Motor

In my opinion, don’t waste money on an expensive motorized grain mill, you don’t need it. The electric models will cost two or three times as much, and electric motors will and do fail.

A model with a manual crank handle that can also be used with a cordless drill will work just fine.  A quality grain mill can last a lifetime and might be the only one you will ever need.

Our Favorite Grain Mills For Homebrewing

What do we think is the best grain mill?

For those who want to crush a lot of grain, the grain mill that “crushed the competition” is the Hullwrecker 2-roller grain mill from Northern Brewer.

We find that for most homebrewers, a 2-roller grain mill is all you need to get the job done and a 3-roller mill is not really needed or worth the extra expense.

Northern Brewer constantly supplies quality equipment to the homebrewer, and this homebrew grain mill is no exception. The well-made construction along with the fully adjustable roller gap, included metal base, and overall ease of use, and the price is why this grain mill is at the top of our list.

If you have your sights set on a 3-roller malt mill, our choice would be the Kegco KM11GM-3R with the larger 11-pound hopper capacity. 

The Kegco model does a great job of flattening and separating the grain without heavy damage to the husk, and can process about eight pounds of grain a minute. Just remember if you purchase the Kegco 3-roller model, you will have to purchase a base separately, or you can easily build your own.

Finally, a grain mill is a piece of equipment that you might only need to buy once and can last a lifetime if you get one of high-quality.  That doesn’t mean you have to buy the most expensive one, but you should look for the best one you can comfortably afford.  A homebrewing grain mill is something that will end up paying for itself over time.

Happy Brewing!

Todd
Todd

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