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Storing Grain

 

Grain storage bins

 

Introduction

One of the most important factors in keeping malted grain (malt) fresh is to keep it in a completely sealed / airtight container of some sort. The container must be completely airtight if the grain is to be kept fresh for any length of time.

The 50-55 pound sacks that bulk un-milled grain is shipped in are not airtight by any stretch of the imagination and if stored this way the grain should be used within a few months. Stored under ideal conditions in an airtight container however, un-milled grain can stay fresh for well over a year or more.

Proper storage allows us to purchase most of our grain in bulk as it is considerably less expensive than buying by the pound. This is especially true for the base grains that will often make up 70-100% of any given recipe.

The base grains we always have on hand and purchase in bulk include:

Purchasing other specialty grains in bulk doesn't always make sense as they usually only make up a small percentage of any given recipe. It's not uncommon to use 1-2 pounds of crystal malt or only a few ounces of highly kilned malt per 10 gallons of beer produced. Unless you intend to split a 50 pound sack with other brewing friends, it's best to purchase specialty grains by the pound.

The speciality grains we use most often include:

Others exist of course, but these are the ones we use the most.

Generally speaking the higher the degree of kilning applied, the longer the malt will stay fresh. When properly stored, we try to use all base malts within one year and most others within a few years. Heavily kilned malts like chocolate malt and black (patent) malt seem to retain their flavours forever.

It is best to store all malt in a cool, dry place away from sunlight and heat.

 

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Food grade buckets with Gamma Seal lids

6 gallon 12 inch diameter food grade buckets with Gamma Seal lids are used to keep grain freshWe use 6 gallon 12" diameter food grade buckets with Gamma Seal lids keep grain fresh

Gamma Seal lid close-upGamma Seal lid close-up

We store our grain in in 6 gallon 12" diameter food grade buckets. Two 6 gallon buckets hold exactly one 50-55 pound sack of grain.

While some buckets may come with lids, most are not airtight and/or are an absolute pain to open. We use and recommend Gamma Seal lids instead of stock lids. These lids are used for all sorts of applications including canoers who need waterproof and airtight containers. Snap the adapter onto the bucket using a rubber mallet, and then simply spin on the removable lid to create an airtight seal. They are very easy to use and no special tools are needed to open - simply spin the lid on and off. Specially engineered gaskets ensure that the lid and adapter are properly sealed to guarantee airtight protection. Gamma Seal lids are available in different colours allowing for a quick and easy reference by using one colour for base malts, another for crystal, and so forth.

This combination of 6 gallon 12" food grade buckets and Gamma Seal lids is by far the most inexpensive and convenient way we've found to store large quantities of grain in a completely airtight manner. After more than 10 years of use the lids are still extremely easy to open and close by hand and create a perfect seal every time.

One 50-55 pound sack fills two 6 gallon 12" buckets which we label with green painters tape and a Sharpie permanent marker. We keep approximately 20 buckets on shelves in our brewery, enough to brew any beer imaginable, any time we want.

 

Vittles Vault Containers

Vittles Vault container

The Vittles Vault line of pet food storage containers are also an excellent choice for storing grain. They come in various shapes and sizes for up to 80lbs of storage per container. Stackable versions are available for easy access. Gamma Seal lids are included and provide a waterproof / airtight seal.

We've seen many other containers (mostly cheap pet food storage containers) that claim to be sealed or airtight but upon closer inspection they do not create nice airtight seals as promised. Try this simple test: Walk into the area where you store your grain and if you smell grain at all (even just a little bit) when up close or when you squeeze or press on the container or lid, your storage system is not airtight. A plastic lid, even if it has a foam lining, snapped to a plastic body will not form an airtight seal. Over time air will circulate causing the grain to go stale at an increased rate.

 

Specialty Grain

Specialty grain is first placed in Ziploc double zipper gallon storage bagsSpecialty grain is first placed in Ziploc double zipper gallon storage bags

Specialty grain is also stored in our well-sealed buckets, but the grain is first placed in Ziploc double zipper gallon storage bags and labelled with a Sharpie permanent marker. Each gallon bag holds approximately 4 pounds of grain. We then label the outside of the buckets as well with green painters tape so that there's no need to go hunting.

Specialty grain waiting to be sealed up in food grade bucketsSpecialty grains waiting to be sealed up in 6 gallon food grade buckets

 

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Pictures / Videos

Interested in seeing what we're brewing right now? Follow us on Instagram for pictures and videos of our brewing activities as they happen.

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Picked up a couple of 50–55 lb sacks of base malt (Canadian/domestic 2-row and Bairds Maris Otter from the UK). For lightly kilned (low Lovibond) stuff like this it’s best to not overstock. You want it fresh to make the best beer possible. I use food safe 6 gallon pails with special airtight/waterproof quick spin on and off lids to keep the grain as fresh as possible. One sack fits two pails. See: http://www.theelectricbrewery.com/parts-list-using?page=9 . TheElectricBrewery.com ... A step by step guide to building your own brewery . #theelectricbrewery #electricbrewery #electricbrewing #homebrewing #homebrew #brewing #craftbeer #beer #dohomebrew #homebrewer #nanobrewery #picobrewery #pilotbrewery #homebrewporn #buildingabrewery #brewery #basementbrewery #brewyourown #beergrain #freshbeer

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BREWING TIP OF THE DAY: A fast way to open a sack of malt. . If you poke around the internet you'll find lots of videos showing you how to carefully unweave the braided tail on a sack of malt so that you can quickly pull the stitches out in one pull. Problem is, that's way too finicky and time consuming. You might as well just cut the whole top off. It's much quicker to cut the braid off and then pull the strings from either side. Simple! . TheElectricBrewery.com ... A step by step guide to building your own brewery . #theelectricbrewery #electricbrewery #electricbrewing #homebrewing #homebrew #brewing #craftbeer #beer #dohomebrew #homebrewer #homebrewporn #weyermann #brewingtips

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