Originally Posted by jwic
I'm at the point where I'd like to buy some ingredients to have on hand for a spontaneous brew day when I get a free afternoon.
I'm wondering, however, what are the kinds of ingredients one can always have on hand and produce a variety of beer. So, for example, I've read numerous recipes and it doesn't seem that any two recipes have the same kinds of hops. Is there one kind of hop I should buy in bulk and I should absolutely have on hand which is versatile enough to work in almost any type of beer I might brew? Same with grains.
Also, how long does the typical vacuum-sealed package of hops usually last in the fridge? Ditto for grains.
In regards to hops...I would recommend buying them in pellets and storing them in your refrigerator or freezer (most hops suppliers store them the same way for up to a year).
As for grain, you can keep grain in air tight buckets or tubs for a long time (some of mine have gone over 6 months)...I personally use the homer buckets from Home Depot, I fill them with grain (in plastic bags) and push down the bucket lid...I have never had spoilage or critters! As for the staples of grain to keep, I would consider 2 row, marriss otter, chocolate malt and crystal 60...while not all of these grains will be used in a recipe, they will be in most kinds and/or are a suitable sub for some ingredients.