Food News

Grateful Bread Unveils Its New Austrian Grain Mill

Jeff Cleary has been making bread at the Grateful Bread Company for a decade, but soon he'll be making his own flour, too. The Golden bakery's new grain mill just arrived from Austria and will be installed over the next two weeks so that Cleary and his crew of bakers can start testing the hand-made machine. Cleary's eventual goal is to partner with Colorado farmers to mill all of his own specialty flours from local, organic grains.

The mill itself is from the Osttiroler Getreidemühlen (or East Tyrolean Grain Mills) company in Dölsach, Austria, where the Green family has been making mills for nearly eighty years. Grateful Bread ordered the mill last spring; it was built over the summer and shipped by boat and rail, arriving in Golden just last Friday. The machine utilizes two stone wheels carved from a special type of Greek granite that turn at a slow rate compared to modern, commercial mills, resulting in less heat from friction. The mill can run for long periods of time without subjecting the grain to high temperatures — a bad thing in terms of flour quality and shelf life.

Cleary says the mill can churn out up to 200 pounds of flour an hour;  he expects to produce about 10,000 pounds a week once it's installed and running. "We will mill all of our specialty grains: rye, winter wheat, durham, OO for pizza, corn for polenta," he explains, "and also ancient grains like spelt."

Installation will require much more than just plugging the machine in and turning it on. Flour is combustible and can explode when suspended in air, so a room is being built with heavy-duty ventilation and an electrical system — including special overhead lights — designed to eliminate the chances of ignition. Once that's complete, Cleary will be able to begin experimenting with fineness and blend to get the flours just right for bread-making. The mill also has multiple sieve screens so that flour and bran can be separated; some breads require the addition of bran, and now Cleary will be able to produce his own rather than buying the expensive product.

Cleary hopes to have the mill installed in time for Grateful Bread's tenth anniversary party on Saturday, October 3. The party is open to the public and the suggested $10 donation for admission will go toward Project Angel Heart. The bakery is selling advance tickets to the event, which will include food from some of Denver's top restaurants, and expects to sell out; you can purchase tickets (and see a list of the participating restaurants) on the Grateful Bread website. The celebration kicks off at 11:30 a.m., but guests who arrive at 11 a.m. will have have an opportunity to purchase bread, sign up for the silent auction and take a tour of the bakery.

Grateful Bread has been open to the public for retail sales only once every few months, but beginning December 5, it will open every Saturday (holidays excepted). Once the mill is up and running, Cleary hopes to be able to produce enough flour to sell it to the public on retail Saturdays, as well as to local businesses.

Keep reading for more photos of the new mill.