I recently invested in my own grain mill after switching to BIAB. I was mainly fed up with low/unpredictable efficiency. Milling my own grains will allow me to buy uncrushed grain in bulk if I desire and brew on-demand. Obviously having more reliable efficiency is a huge plus and makes for a more predictable brew day. I purchased the Cereal Killer grain mill after doing some research and reading a lot of good things about it. Grain mills can be very expensive, so the $99 price tag was alluring given the great reviews online.
My initial impression of the Cereal Killer grain mill was how small and lightweight the hopper was. Maybe I should have known the capacity was only 7 pounds of grain, but the pictures online make it look a lot bigger. It’s not a big deal for most 5 gallon batches as you can crush the majority of the grains in a single hopper.
The last few pounds will need to be added on top as you mill. This is a pretty standard size for most entry-level grain mills unless you’re willing to shell out some cash or buy a hopper extension (which is not currently available for this mill). The flip side is easy storage. This unit fits on my shelf in my brewery and doesn’t take up a lot of space.
The rollers are heavy duty and feel well made. The metal base is heavy and sturdy and fits on a 5-6 gallon plastic bucket perfectly. This is definitely where the majority of the money was invested in the mill. The mill features two rollers that can be adjusted from a .025-.100 gap.
Red Blue Tape
Most online reviewers have pointed out how much of a pain it is to get the protective blue plastic wrapping off the mill. The wrapping is attached to both the inside and outside of the hopper, so it is certainly a nuisance and not well thought out. The unit was assembled with the wrapping on it so it’s basically permanently attached in places you can’t access without either damaging or totally disassembling the grain mill.
It took me about 10-15 minutes to remove all of it and you can still see little bits of it in every one of my pictures. It’s not a huge deal, but I mean cmon, man who’s idea was this?
Adjusting the Mill Gap
The roller gap can be easily adjusted with a knob on each side of the mill. The rollers are then tightened into place with two eye hook screws. The unit has markings at .025, .050, and .100. You’ll have to estimate if you’re looking for a specific gap. A .035 gap is suggested for BIAB so I placed it between .025 and .050. The gap settings on the mill are faint and not that easy to read so you need to hold it at certain angles to read the markings. I had to position the lighting just right to make the numbers visible in this photo.
A common rule of thumb is that the width of a credit card is the ideal gap for BIAB crush. You can slide a card in between the rollers and adjust it to fit the width of the card. I was able to confirm this with a gift card. It was just able to slide it through at my estimated .035-.037 gap. Some homebrewers go as fine as .025 to extract every bit of efficiency possible. The only concern is excess trub due to the fine grain dust escaping the bag. If you recirculate during the mash, this can also increase the risk of a stuck mash.
If you’re worried about ruining a credit card a plastic gift card or any similar thickness will work. If you’re looking for a more specific crush, you will need to use a feeler gauge.
Overall, the mill performed as expected. I was able to crush 12 pounds of grain in about 10 minutes or so hand-turning. In terms of crush, it seemed to do a good job with a consistent fine crush. Definitely finer than anything I’ve received pre-crushed, which is to be expected. It’s not a super heavy grain mill, so you will need to hold the base down as you turn the crank so the mill doesn’t slide around on the bucket. I wasn’t worried about it falling off, but it did rotate a little.
Hand Turning vs Power Drill
The mill comes with a hand crank but can also be used with a power drill. Any standard electric power drill should work. I simply tightened the drill head around the turning rod arm. If you use a drill, a speed of 300 RPM is recommended so you should adjust your drill to the lowest RPM position (1) and not go overboard. The drill method makes this a much quicker and less arduous task. The mill operates by turning the arm clockwise.
As an FYI, the mill’s arm only actually spins ONE roller. The other roller spins freely on it’s own but only turns when fed with grains.
Overall, the Cereal Killer grain mill is a solid entry-level mill that’s perfect for getting started with crushing your own grains. Time will tell in terms of its overall durability. Since I am not someone who is brewing mega batches and only brews 1-2 times a month, this will suit my needs perfectly. I obviously see the value in electric grain mills with a motor, but I think for the 5 gallons or less brewer, a more basic mill is probably fine. For $99, I think the unit is priced about right. It’s nothing overly fancy but it gets the job done. If you’re typically brewing 10+ gallon batches or find yourself churning through grain, I’d probably consider a larger more powerful mill.
The biggest takeaway is of course my improved efficiency with milling my own grains. So far, I’ve able to improve from about 60-62% with a standard crush to about 70-72% with a .037 crush while making no other adjustments in my process. It’s worth noting the grain bill and crush size will both dictate efficiency. My last several batches utilized larger quantities of oats which is going to hinder efficiency.
I’m curious to push the crush down a little further to see what I can get in terms of efficiency. My only hesitancy with going too fine is winding up with a stuck mash. Dough balls also become more of an issue with a finer crush. This was immediately apparent while I was doughing in.
Overall, the improved efficiency and greater control make this investment highly worth it to me. If you’re a smaller batch BIAB brewer struggling with lower efficiency or just want to get started with milling your own grains, I would absolutely recommend the Cereal Killer grain mill as an affordable solution to improve your brew day.