To achieve the highest quality beer, we all understand that it begins with exceptional ingredients. It is crucial that these ingredients are fresh. As you transition from brewing single extract kits to brewing all grain recipes, you may find yourself wanting more ingredients readily available for when inspiration strikes. Additionally, purchasing in bulk is often more cost-effective. Regardless of the reason, proper storage and preservation of your ingredients are essential to ensure the best taste in your beer!
Malted Grains: For home brewers, grains are usually supplied in uncrushed grain sacks. They are typically transferred to plastic bins for convenient weighing when you place your order. Malted grains are usually provided in plastic bags, either crushed or uncrushed. It’s important to store crushed or uncrushed grains in a cool, dry place to protect them from moisture, mold, and pests. The best way to do this is by using plastic lockable storage boxes.
Crushed: If the grains are not supplied in vacuum-sealed packs, they are best consumed for brewing within a few weeks after being crushed, as they quickly absorb oxygen and moisture. If you reside in a high humidity and temperature environment, take steps to maintain the freshness of the grains, such as using a desiccant in the storage box.
Uncrushed: Since uncrushed grains have a slower oxygen uptake, they can be kept for much longer (months). However, always make sure to taste your grains before brewing with them. They should be firm and crunchy.
Malted Extracts and Adjuncts: These materials are supplied in sealed containers with specific pack sizes at your homebrew store to retain freshness. Compared to fresh grains, these products are designed to have a longer shelf life.
Dry: This refers to dried malt extracts, such as DME and other sugars. Once opened, the bags can be resealed with a zip tie or placed in a zip lock bag. They will remain usable for months under the same conditions as your grains. Keep in mind that grains and dry extracts can absorb odors and flavors from their surroundings.
Liquid: Liquid malt extracts should be transferred to a clean, sterilized bottle or recapped if they come in bottles. However, over time, they will absorb oxygen and become stale. Storing them in the refrigerator can slow down this process, but it is recommended not to keep them for more than a couple of weeks after opening.
Fresh: These are cones freshly harvested from the hop vines and are best used as soon as possible. If immediate use is not feasible, they can be dried using a food dehydrator and stored in zip lock bags in the freezer for a few weeks. If you have access to a vacuum sealer, this will extend the storage period of the hops. Always inspect the hops by smelling them for any signs of staleness, cheese-like odors, rot, or mold before use.
Pellets/Whole Cones: These are processed commercial hop products supplied in zip lock or vacuum-sealed bags. It is recommended to store them in the freezer with minimal air contact, especially once opened. Similar to malted grains, hops can absorb tastes and aromas from their surroundings.
Extract: Hop extracts for homebrewers are typically supplied in 10 ml syringes within vacuum-sealed bags. Each package should last for approximately 4 brews. It is best to store them in a zip lock bag in the refrigerator between uses.
In this section, we will only focus on the storage of packaged yeast.
Dry: Dry yeast can be stored at room temperature but is ideally refrigerated.
Liquid: Liquid yeast should always be stored in the refrigerator.
While there are other ingredients used in brewing, the general rules of storage and preservation remain the same: minimize exposure to heat, light, moisture, and oxygen to keep them fresh and ensure your brews taste their best.