Instructions from 1838
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The Repository of Arts and Sciences
Published by Peter Brown 

Niceties in Malting, the observation of which will increase the Profits of the Malster nearly ten per cent. 

In malting barley, the water should be changed oftenest in spring and autumn, when the weather is warm. If barley be left to steep too long at these seasons in the same water, the water will grow slimy, and sometimes sour. 

The maltster should therefore watch the change of the water, and when he finds it smooth or oily to the touch, or inclining to smell or taste sour, it must be changed immediately. The common method of changing it, is first to draw off that in which the barley was steeping, and then by pails or pumping, fill the cistern again; but this is a bad way, for when the water is drawn off, the barley lies closer, and is apt to heat, which causes great damage. 

It is therefore recommended to get a hogshead of water in readiness near the cistern, which should be thrown on the barley the instant the first water is drawn off; and as a hogshead of water is sufficient to wet eight bushels of barley, as many hogsheads save one, should be afterwards added, as the cistern will require. River water is the best, and hard spring water is the worst. In general, the water that soonest lathers should be preferred. 

A thin-skinned, fine-coated barley is the best for making malt. It need not be very full-bodied, but should be quite ripe.