Review of the Barley Crusher Malt Mill
For years I held out on picking up a malt mill. My LHBS has a mill, I insisted, so even if I stock up on bulk grain at home I can mill at the HBS when picking up my other ingredients (I typically buy my specialty malts from the HBS since I don't stock up on those at home).
However, I recently had a couple of brew sessions in which my efficiency inexplicably fell like a rock, and after careful evaluation I realized that it had to be the crush. So, I decided to make the leap and pick up a malt mill.
After some research, I decided on the popular Barley Crusher which appeared to be a great combination of quality and price. Boy was that a good move.
My efficiency immediately jumped way up, and I quickly realized that my LHBS had fairly course standard crush setting. I started getting about 10% better efficiency than I'd ever gotten before, which will actually help pay for the mill over time. More importantly, I tinkered with it until I found my optimal crush setting, then left it there to keep a consistent crush time and time again. Because I batch sparge, I choose a slightly finer crush setting than someone who fly sparges might prefer, and way finer than my LHBS uses.
It does not seem to add much time to my brew day - I mill my malt while I'm waiting for my liquor to heat up at the beginning of my brew session, and my malt tastes fresher because I crush it so close to brew time. I hook it up to my standard hand drill, which allows me to control the crush speed and which is quite a satisfying process. One time I'd forgotten to charge my drill battery and it died mid-crush, so I hooked up the manual handle which turned out to be surprisingly easy. And finally, it's simple to clean: I picked up a cheap paint brush and I dust the rollers off after each use, and it still looks as good as new.
I definitely recommend picking up your own malt mill if you want to improve your efficiency and consistency of crush, and if you are in the market you can't beat the Barley Crusher.