Author Topic: Shelf Life of grains, DME & extract  (Read 1849 times)

Offline dave1

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Shelf Life of grains, DME & extract
« on: October 05, 2010, 11:01:21 AM »
I am a new member and getting back in to home brewing after a long absence.  I have grains, some are cracked, that are 12-15 years old.  They are stored in zip-lock bags and/or the bags they were purchased in.  Also have malt extract in plastic containers and cans, and DME in bags.  Are these still good?  How long can they be kept and how is the best way to store them?  How can I tell if they're good?  Thank you.

Offline euge

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Re: Shelf Life of grains, DME & extract
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2010, 11:40:16 AM »
I would say all the above could be stored for years if handled properly, with the exception of the LME. Maybe if it's in cans it'll go longer. How to tell if it's poor for brewing? Don't know. Brew a batch and see if it's ok. ???
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline ryang

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Re: Shelf Life of grains, DME & extract
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2010, 12:56:55 PM »
in a recent issue of zymurgy there was an article pertaining extracts and i know there was a can of old lme that was used to make the recipe "old bulger".  without looking, I can't remember how old the can was, but I know it at least turned out drinkable.

Offline bluesman

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Re: Shelf Life of grains, DME & extract
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2010, 07:30:39 PM »
If they have not been exposed to oxygen they are probably okay to use but my guess is that they probably have been. I would smell and taste them, chances are they are stale or oxidized. With the amount of time and effort that goes into brewing beer I would want to use the freshest and highest quality ingredients I possibly can within reason.  I would purchase fresh malt and hops and some dry yeast and go from there. Let us know how you make out one way or the other.

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Offline bfogt

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Re: Shelf Life of grains, DME & extract
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2010, 09:53:21 PM »
Made a batch today with a recipe bought in 2004 or 2005.  The brewer died in 2005 and one of the cans had a timestamp of Apr 04.  I hope I got some oxydation so it's different.  Here's what the DME looked like.

I set the bag in warm tap water for a while until the outside started to loosen.  I was able to invert the bag slowly, push the brick of caramel out and then rinse the bag with hot water.  The cans of LME were no problem, if a bit darker than I remember.  I used a bunch of hops right off my bines out back.  I told my wife I'd only leave with our two boys for 20 minutes and that's all it took to pick about a pound and a half of fresh cones. 

We'll see how it does.

Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Shelf Life of grains, DME & extract
« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2010, 08:13:29 AM »
Ages ago in a now defunct e-mail forum I asked a similar question and have seen this come up time and again.

From what I've learned and what I can recall the LME should be fine to use.  My question was related to a 10 year old can that was bulging.  I did use it, it made beer just fine.  Over time the LME will darken, so you'd want to go with a darker beer.  The brix (sugar content) should keep it from developing botulism (a big concern that was raised in that old discussion).

I believe John Blichmann (it may have been someone else) ran some side by side experiments with old LME and it all fermented fine.  My recollection was that you should use a greater amount of yeast than normal to get it to ferment without getting some older, carmel-ly flavors unless that's what you're looking for.

I didn't get any off flavors, but it was a very dark malty beer.

The DME is likely the same story.  I would imagine it is much like old brown sugar (hard as a brick) which is fine to use.

The grains I would assume are stale...  But who knows?  Taste and smell would give a good indication.
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