Author Topic: Grain Bags - Once opened what is the shelf life?  (Read 4015 times)

Offline sienabrewer

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 75
    • View Profile
Grain Bags - Once opened what is the shelf life?
« on: October 04, 2012, 06:25:24 PM »
I've been having issues with my beer.  They just don't taste like they use to.  I'm thinking it's the freshness of my grain.  I buy in bulk, but due to a variety of reasons don't brew nearly as frequently.  I store the grain in a plastic bin; not air tight. 

What is a realistic shelf life of grain once it is opened?  It's gotten to a point where I think I am going to stop buying in bulk and just order kits.  Time seems to be less available to me recently and I want to get back to making good beer when I have the opportunity.

Offline ynotbrusum

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1004
  • Da mihi sis cerevisiam.
    • View Profile
Re: Grain Bags - Once opened what is the shelf life?
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2012, 06:51:31 PM »
Once I started buying in bulk, I went to the Vittles Vaults with the gamma seal to preserve freshness.  I think it would be good for a year or so if stored properly.
Hodge Garage Brewing: "Brew with a glad heart!"

Offline phunhog

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 183
    • View Profile
Re: Grain Bags - Once opened what is the shelf life?
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2012, 07:32:04 PM »
I mow through grain pretty fast but I would say unmilled grain should last at least 6 months if not longer.  If you don't use it much I would keep it in the original two ply sack, fold over the sack, and tape it closed.

Offline hopfenundmalz

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 4535
  • Milford, MI
    • View Profile
Re: Grain Bags - Once opened what is the shelf life?
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2012, 05:55:04 AM »
Once I started buying in bulk, I went to the Vittles Vaults with the gamma seal to preserve freshness.  I think it would be good for a year or so if stored properly.
Due to the fact that the harvest is once a year, I say it lasts a year with no problem if kept cool and dry.

Jeff Rankert
Ann Arbor Brewers Guild, AHA Member, BJCP Certified
Home-brewing, not just a hobby, it is a lifestyle!

Offline mtnrockhopper

  • I spend way too much time on the AHA forum
  • ********
  • Posts: 2881
  • Delaware
    • View Profile
Re: Grain Bags - Once opened what is the shelf life?
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2012, 06:03:53 AM »
Since those bags are not airtight and certainly not purged of oxygen, I doubt opening the bag has a huge effect on freshness.  The only difference might be if the grain is stored in a warm humid area.  Actually, a warm, humid airtight container is probably the worst storage scenario.  Buy an all-grain kit and see if that makes a difference.
Jimmy K

Delmarva United Homebrewers - President by inverse coup when the old president ousted himself.
AHA Member since 2006
BJCP: B0958

Offline davidgzach

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1498
    • View Profile
Re: Grain Bags - Once opened what is the shelf life?
« Reply #5 on: October 05, 2012, 06:34:25 AM »
Once I started buying in bulk, I went to the Vittles Vaults with the gamma seal to preserve freshness.  I think it would be good for a year or so if stored properly.

+1 to Vittles Vaults.  I have 3. 

Once you open the bag, the grain needs to be in an airtight container for storage.  I learned the hard way.  I had an unopened sack of Pale Ale Malt get moist on me in my basement.  Turned out the thread on top opened a small amount in transport....

Dave
Dave Zach

Offline tcanova

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 182
  • Fayetteville Arkansas
    • View Profile
Re: Grain Bags - Once opened what is the shelf life?
« Reply #6 on: October 05, 2012, 07:45:50 AM »
Another plus one on the Vittles Vaults from me.  Not only does it keep the grain airtight but also keeps out the critters...
What's the worst that could happen?  Beer?


Wooo Pig Sooiee

Offline mabrungard

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1097
    • View Profile
    • Bru'n Water
Re: Grain Bags - Once opened what is the shelf life?
« Reply #7 on: October 05, 2012, 07:54:10 AM »
I concur that the lack of air-tightness of the typical grain sack does suggest that opening the sack should have little effect on the shelf life.  Its possible that a sack of malt could be years old, so it may not be possible to determine what shelf life you might expect from your stock unless the sack was dated. 

Transferring to the relatively air-tight confines of a vittles vault should be a good idea in any case.  If the grain tastes stale from the sack, the beer produced could be stale tasting too.
Martin B
Carmel, IN

BJCP National
Foam Blowers of Indiana (FBI)

Brewing Water Information at:
https://sites.google.com/site/brunwater/

Like Bru'n Water on Facebook for occasional discussions on brewing water and Bru'n Water

Offline saintpierre

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 402
  • Augusta, ME
    • View Profile
    • www.malthomebrewclub.org
Re: Grain Bags - Once opened what is the shelf life?
« Reply #8 on: October 05, 2012, 08:03:27 AM »
I store my bulk grain in the original sack stored in 55# dog food bins (not air tight).  The longest I have had a sack (best malz pilsner malt) was about 9 months kept in my basement.  Once I got around to using it, it made an amazing saison.  My general procedure after I use some I fold the top over and roll it down to perge the air.

As long as you keep the humidity and critters out is should keep for a year.
Mike St. Pierre
Maine Ale & Libation Tasters (MALT)
BJCP Recognized
[719.4, 74.1] AR

Offline richardt

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1227
    • View Profile
Re: Grain Bags - Once opened what is the shelf life?
« Reply #9 on: October 05, 2012, 06:32:32 PM »
In Florida, ambient temps and humidity levels are too high to store grain in the garage or shed--regardless of whether or not the container is sealed or "air tight."  Storing the grain bags indoors is the only way to go.

I've had good success storing the bags purged of excess air (i.e., rolled up tight and taped shut) and placed inside my igloo coolers, mash tun cooler, and SS boil kettle.  I also have a large x-mas storage bin for various specialty grain and crystal malt bags.  Again, use the indoor space efficiently by storing the grain inside the coolers and boil kettle w/ lid on.  No issues with critters, mold, or spoilage.

Offline majorvices

  • Global Moderator
  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *****
  • Posts: 6308
  • Polka. If its too loud you're too young.
    • View Profile
    • Yellowhammer Brewing Company
Grain Bags - Once opened what is the shelf life?
« Reply #10 on: October 06, 2012, 04:25:22 AM »
I've had grain stay fresh for two years rolled up in sack and stored in loosely sealed containers. I'd look elsewhere for your flavor problems.
Keith Y.
Self appointed "All Grain" section pruner

Offline sienabrewer

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 75
    • View Profile
Re: Grain Bags - Once opened what is the shelf life?
« Reply #11 on: October 06, 2012, 08:11:41 AM »
Thanks for the help.  It seems grain freshness is not the issue.  I need to look at my sanitation.  Perhaps it's time to get rid of the buckets I've been using for quite some time now.  I'll try my next batch in my glass carboys and see if I can notice a difference.

Online AmandaK

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 939
  • Redbird Brewhouse
    • View Profile
Re: Grain Bags - Once opened what is the shelf life?
« Reply #12 on: October 08, 2012, 10:32:22 AM »
Thanks for the help.  It seems grain freshness is not the issue.  I need to look at my sanitation.  Perhaps it's time to get rid of the buckets I've been using for quite some time now.  I'll try my next batch in my glass carboys and see if I can notice a difference.

Can you describe this 'off-flavor'?

http://www.howtobrew.com/section4/chapter21-2.html <-- Common off flavors
Amanda Kertz
Kansas City Bier Meister
BJCP National

Redbird Brewhouse - Current Project: Full Basement Bar Build

Offline phunhog

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 183
    • View Profile
Re: Grain Bags - Once opened what is the shelf life?
« Reply #13 on: October 08, 2012, 07:48:11 PM »
This thread got me thinking about how fresh the grain we use is. Obviously it is an agricultural product with a growing/malting season.  Once the season is done is that until next year or are the farmers able to continously grow/harvest barley?  When I pick up a sack of grain or smaller amounts of specialty grain at my LHBS is it possible that depending on the time of year it could be almost a year old?  I am picturing huge warehouses/grain silos packed with malted barley waiting to be sold to brewers both commercial and home.

Offline seajellie

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 102
    • View Profile
Re: Grain Bags - Once opened what is the shelf life?
« Reply #14 on: October 09, 2012, 05:39:22 AM »
How does the ole ROT work: If the grain tastes OK, then it's probably ok to brew with, and any off flavors you get are most likely not due to the grain.

It seems to have worked for me. I disobeyed it one time with some old barley and rye malt that tasted "flat" or "off" but I went with it anyway. It was three years old probably. I was sorry that I wasted my time. Beer was awful, and never improved even after ageing in the refrigerated keg for a year.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2012, 05:53:00 AM by seajellie »