To brew the best beer possible, we all know that it starts with quality ingredients. The key here is that they are fresh too, but as you make the shift away from brewing single extract kits to brewing all grain recipes, you’ll find that you may want more ingredients on hand for when the mood strikes, or simply the fact that buying in bulk is usually cheaper. Whatever the reason, it’s important to store and preserve your ingredients to ensure your beer is tasting its best!
Malted Grains: For home brewers grains are generally supplied to your home brew store in grain sacks uncrushed. These are generally dispensed into plastic bins for easy weighing for the home brewer’s order. Malted grains are then generally supplied to you in plastic bags either crushed or uncrushed. Crushed or uncrushed grains should be stored in a cool dry place in a way that protects your grains from attracting moisture, mould and vermin. This is best done by storing your grains in plastic lockable storage boxes.
- Crushed: if the grains are not supplied in vacuum sealed packs These are best consumed for brewing within a few weeks of the grains being crushed as they uptake oxygen and moisture far quicker. If you are in an environment of high humidity and temperature then steps should be taken to ensure the freshness of the grains, such as a desiccant in the storage box.
- Uncrushed: due the grains being uncrushed these have much slower oxygen uptake and can then be kept for much longer (months) be sure to always taste your grains before you brew with them. The grains should be firm and crunchy.
Malted extracts and Adjuncts: These materials are supplied to your homebrew store in particular pack sizes in sealed containers to retains freshness and these products are designed to have a longer shelf life than fresh grains.
- Dry: These are your dried malt extracts, DME and other sugars. Once these are opened the bags can then be resealed with a zip tie or sealed in a zip lock bag and will keep for months in under the same condition as your grains. Please note that grains and dry extract will adsorb smells and flavours of what they are stored with.
- Liquid: These are your liquid malt extracts once they are opened they can be re-capped if in bottles or transferred to a clean sterilised bottle. But these will adsorb oxygen and stale the malt extract over time, this can be slowed by storing them in the fridge but would not keep them more than a couple of weeks once opened.
Fresh: These are the cones fresh off the bines and are best used as soon as possible after they are picked. If this is not possible these can be dried using a food dehydrator then stored in a zip lock bags in the freezer for a few weeks. If you have access to vacuum sealing this will extend the storage period of the hops. Always inspect these by smelling the hops for stale cheesy smells and for rotting and mould before use.
Pallets/ Whole Cones: These are processed commercial products which will be supplied to you on zip lock or vacuum sealed bags and are best stored in the freezer with low air contact especially once opened. Like malted grains, hops will adsorb tastes and aromas of what they are stored with.
Extract: Hop extracts for homebrewers are generally supplied in 10 ml syringes in vacuum sealed bags which will last about 4 brews and is best stored in a zip lock bag in the fridge between brews.
For this section we will only look at the storing of packaged yeast.
- Dry: These are alright to be stored at room temperature but are still best refrigerated.
- Liquid: Liquid yeast should always be stored in the fridge.
There are other ingredients you may use in your brewing, but for the most part the rules of storage and preserving remain similar as to minimise their exposure to heat, light, moisture and oxygen in order to keep them fresh and your brews tasting their best.