Grist to the Mill, or Grist from the Mill?

When taking groups on a tour of the Brewery and we reach the Malt store, I refer to our obtaining Malted Barley Grist from our Grist Mill. When hearing this people will often say ‘Surely the saying is Grist to the mill, not from the Mill?’

Actually, both sayings are correct. In a flour mill, Grist is grain that has been separated from its chaff in readiness for grinding, and in Brewing, Grist is crushed grain that is obtained after passing it through a Grist mill.

At Hook Norton we have a most unusual, if not unique, Grist Mill located on the fourth floor of the Brewery. Installed in 1899 it features a Malt Dressing machine made by Nalder & Nalder of Wantage (the wooden covered parts) and a Milling machine made by Buxton & Thornley, Burton on Trent (the red painted parts). As its name suggests the Malt Dressing part prepares the grain for milling; it does this by removing dust and grading the grains into either larger or smaller size, before milling. The Mill has two sets of rollers, side by side; one is set to crush the smaller grains and the other set for the larger ones. By the machine grading the grains in this way it provides an even crush and the maximum extract from the Mash later on in the process. There cannot be many machines in the UK still running on a daily basis that were installed in 1899!

So there we are Grist can be either ‘To the Mill or from the Mill’.

James Tobin.