Going bulk grain - need some advice

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RyPA

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Since I started brewing I've always bought grains/hops/yeast by the batch. Since I am confident I will brew at least 5 more batches, I am going to pick up a 50-55lb sack of base grains, and a few pounds of other grains. I'd say that if I forecasted my next 5 brew days, I'm looking at 4 IPA/NEIPA's and 1 stout/other style. Is it worthwhile to buy a 'better' base grain, like Golden Promise or Maris Otter, or is the flavor negligible compared to 2-row for an IPA? I found mixed feedback in my research. Any advice from those that brew similar styles regularly is appreciated.

50 lb 2-row
10 lb golden promise or MO - thinking possibly 75% 2-row and 25% GP/MO for my base?
10 lb white wheat malt
5 lb honey malt

or

50 lb golden promise
10 lb white wheat
5 lb honey malt

or

50 lb maris otter
10 lb white wheat
5 lb honey malt
 

MaxStout

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That's going to depend on your tastes. You could experiment with a few versions, maybe all 2-row, 50/50 2-row/Maris, etc. The addition of some Maris or GP will add some dimension. If you are planning a British or Irish stout, the Maris might be a better choice for base. An American stout could be all 2-row if you wish.
 
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I brew similar styles on a regular basis but I'm also doing 15gal batches. So when I buy grain I buy it by the sack, unless I'm experimenting or it's a low percentage in my standard beers. I sometimes split my base grain also, last neipa I did 50/50 2row/golden promise but sometimes I'll do all 2row just depends what I have left on hand. If you store it properly and have the room to do so you will find many benefits... like say you wake up so plans change and time frees up and hey look at that you have the grain on hand to brew without having to run to your lhbs for ingredients.
 

day_trippr

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I appreciate the difference Golden Promise brings to my *ipas vs Briess, Rahr and other basic two row US malts.
Same thing with Weyermann malts for pilsners and kolches and to lighten up wheats.
fwiw, I advise caution using more than say a 1/2 pound of honey malt in a five gallon batch.
I use just a 1/2 pound of the Gambrinus honey malt for a 10 gallon batch and find that to be plenty...

Cheers!
 

PCABrewing

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I typically buy a sack of 2-row Pale and a sack of MO to keep a supply of base on-hand.
I like the neutrality of 2-row as a base to build on. I usually buy smaller lots of stuff like Munich, say 10 # to fill in gaps.
I tend to design my own recipes based on flavor preference VS trying to mimic anything else.
 

IslandLizard

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+1 What they said!^

I am going to pick up a 50-55lb sack of base grains [...]
Is it worthwhile to buy a 'better' base grain, like Golden Promise or Maris Otter,
Why not buy a sack of each? You may save some $$ on buying whole sacks vs. pounds. Are you picking them up locally?

Or don't you think you'll use em up within a year (or 2)?
You have a coolish place to store them?
 
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RyPA

RyPA

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@bailey mountain brewer - Exactly, I want to have stuff on hand so I can brew whenever I want. I plan to also order some hops to keep on hand. Vacuum sealed and frozen in 1-2oz sacks and pull them out to use as needed. Likely will also order a few packets of yeast ahead of time, but not sure what my plans are yet from a yeast perspective.. likely going to try kviek next, interested in a 3-5 day turnaround at high temps.

@day_trippr - Agreed, I'd use it sparingly, and figured 5lbs would get me through many batches, I will likely bring that down to 3 lbs. I used only 1/2 in my recent NEIPA.

@IslandLizard - I'm the only beer drinker in the house and I think a 50lb sack of base could get me through a year, or close to it. I think buying 100 lbs of base grains up front would be overkill, I'd rather take the additional cost on the chin to get fresher grains, and ensure it will not go to waste. I live in a home without a basement and the best I can do is my garage, which is perfect for most of the year, except for say June-September.

Hoping to buy 1 50 lb sack, and then supplement that with 3-10 lb of other grains to make things interesting.
 
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I also buy hops in bulk, again larger batches, then I weigh and vacuum seal them. Usually 12oz per pack depending on the variety. As for yeast, if you can harvest and manage a yeast bank this will save you money as well. Takes some getting used to and recording dates but if there is a couple strains you use on a regular that's just one less thing to worry about purchasing before a brew day.
 

AlexKay

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I will say that I very rarely use boring old 2-row. Then again, I tend to like to make mostly malt forward styles. The only downside to Maris Otter that I see is you take a hit on diastatic power, but this isn’t a problem unless you’re brewing with a lot of adjuncts or specialty grains.
 
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RyPA

RyPA

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@MaxStout That is exactly my plan, using the 5g food safe buckets, at Home Depot it's $8 per bucket and $8 per screw top/sealable lid. I plan to put my 2-row/MO/GP in one bucket, loose, and have all other grains, bagged separately in the other bucket.

@bailey mountain brewer I am in the dry yeast camp for now, it seems so much easier than dealing with the extra hassle of liquid yeast. At $5-$10 a packet, why bother with liquid, assuming you can get the same liquid strain in dry.

@AlexKay Exactly what I am trying to avoid, stocking up a grain that is inferior to grains that are just a few bucks more expensive (per batch). At the same time, will a 2-row NEIPA taste 98.987% as good as a MO NEIPA, and if that's the case, I will save X dollars on the cheaper sack and call it a day. I don't know the full characteristics of each grain type, especially things like diastatic power, so I was hoping to just get a recommendation based on those who brew similar styles with success. Over time I am sure I will be able to figure these things out on my own.
 

marc1

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@MaxStout That is exactly my plan, using the 5g food safe buckets, at Home Depot it's $8 per bucket and $8 per screw top/sealable lid. I plan to put my 2-row/MO/GP in one bucket, loose, and have all other grains, bagged separately in the other bucket.

@bailey mountain brewer I am in the dry yeast camp for now, it seems so much easier than dealing with the extra hassle of liquid yeast. At $5-$10 a packet, why bother with liquid, assuming you can get the same liquid strain in dry.

@AlexKay Exactly what I am trying to avoid, stocking up a grain that is inferior to grains that are just a few bucks more expensive (per batch). At the same time, will a 2-row NEIPA taste 98.987% as good as a MO NEIPA, and if that's the case, I will save X dollars on the cheaper sack and call it a day. I don't know the full characteristics of each grain type, especially things like diastatic power, so I was hoping to just get a recommendation based on those who brew similar styles with success. Over time I am sure I will be able to figure these things out on my own.

You'll need two buckets for a full sack
 
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Dry yeast is simple yes, and now there is a lot more available in dry. I use liquid due to the size of my batches and its cheaper for me to get the proper pitch rate via starters and save money via harvesting. As for the grain you'll need an extra bucket or 2.

Edit - as marc1 just said haha
 
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RyPA

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@marc1 50 lbs will not fit in a 5 gallon? I saw a video on yt where a guy did it. Or maybe he was able to fit 48, and had to find a home for a few lbs.
 
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I use bins for mine but I measure out my brewday grain in the 6.5 gallon and thinking about it now I cant even say 50lb would fit in one of them. I feel like if I put 20lb of 2row (pre crush) in one of them it's close to half way, once crushed 20lb all but fills the bucket it's going into.
 

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I buy sacks of Pilsner and MO, sometimes wheat since I use a lot of it and Munich too. I keep them in vittles vaults and have never had a problem. All my specialty grains I buy in 5lb increments usually and store them either in smaller vittles vaults or some storage containers from the dollar store. I don't use 2 row in any of my brewing so I don't have any of it on hand.

I second looking on Amazon as they are frequently on sale there. Also I look at Pet Smart and they have sales on them too.
 

Steveruch

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Dry yeast is simple yes, and now there is a lot more available in dry. I use liquid due to the size of my batches and its cheaper for me to get the proper pitch rate via starters and save money via harvesting

You can harvest with dry the same as with liquid.
 

marc1

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Nope. I've always had to split between 2 buckets. Maybe you can get 30lbs in? Certainly not close to 50 or 55.

Actually now that I think about it, I think that I usually opened a sack when brewing, so some grain was used up then. They might hold less than 25lbs each.
 

jrgtr42

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I keep a sack of 2-row and one of |Pilsner on hand, plus smaller bags of Munich and Vienna, plus smaller still of specialty grains. |I actually should put in an order for some miscellaneous stuff, I've got a few batches I want to do...
I keep the big ones in big bins made for pet food. They're airtight eough to last.
I have some smaller Vittles Vaults (ya\y for those at half-off at my grocery store...|) for the specialty malts.
 

odie

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two 5 gal buckets will hold 50#, but not 55#. Don't worry...as soon as you open the sack your gonna be using a few pounds for that next beer.

2-row, pale ale and MO are basically interchangeable. Yes there is a subtle difference but not enough to justify buying all 3 unless you brew a lot.

Pale ale is a good middle of the road that will serve pretty much any style. If you like a lot of Brit ales then by all means grab some MO as well. But you can make a perfectly fine Brit beer with PA or 2-Row.

They are called base malts for a reason...you are going to add crystal/caramel, roasted/black and/or other specialty malts to most beers anyway.
 

mashpaddled

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MO is probably not a valuable grain to buy in bulk unless you have a specific reason for it. It has its place but I'm not sure IPA is it. It's too malt forward for west coast IPA/pale. I could see it working in hazy styles but probably not substantially better than two row plus lighter crystal. Two row as a base for any American IPA style is basically the hallmark of the grainbill for the style. I've had a couple IPAs made with MO and they felt too dense and sweet.
 
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RyPA

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I recently brewed a NEIPA using MO as the base, and it's a bit chewy, which I kind of like for a juicy beer. But, that's not to say I want my next 5 beers to be that way. I guess as my base I am thinking something more neutral may be better, and I can supplement with specialty malts. Leaning towards a sack of 2-row.
 

sibelman

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@odie wrote "2-row, pale ale and MO are basically interchangeable." I agree. Maybe my palate just isn't that refined, but when I recently brewed several batches with a sack of MO, I couldn't really discern its difference from my go-to base malt, Great Western (organic) 2-row. The MO did make ferocious dough balls though. 🤔 Other factors make much more difference.
 

OakIslandBrewery

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@bailey mountain brewer what style bins? Are they air tight?
I'd stick with 5-gallon buckets if possible. I have a dozen of them with the Gamma seal lids. For buckets check with places like Walmart, Sam's club, places that would have a bakery that might have buckets for sale. I had got most of my buckets at Walmart for like a buck or two with lids, but I didn't use the lids. I also got some buckets from a lady who worked at McDonald's. Be careful there as some held pickles and that smell might transfer to your grain. If you don't mind pickle stout or pickle wheat then you'd be OK. Just watchout for used buckets. Gamma seal lids are all over the internet and I've seen them at our local Menard's too.
 

Spivey24

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I use MO for most of my IPAs, or sometimes a decent pale ale malt if that is what I have. It’s personal preference but I think the MO gives a little more depth to my clear IPAs. I also like a pound or 2 of Vienna for color. I don’t like malty IPAs, but I also don’t care for hop water, so MO gives a happy medium. It’s not just for English beers. JMO.
 

Chuckbergman

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Agree with what most posters have said. I have almost completely switched to MO for my base malt. I usually buy a bag of MO and a bag of Munich. Due to price, this last purchase I went with a bag of Superior Pale Malt and a bag of Vienna. So far I like those, but prefer MO.
 
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RyPA

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Definitely going with buckets, as this will be the cheapest approach. The white food safe buckets are $9 and sealable screw lid is $9, so it's $18 per container. Wondering if I can get by with 2 - one filled to the brim with base, and the rest in the other, with my specialty grain in bags sitting on top of the base. Or 2 x 5 gallon for base, and get a smaller bucket for specialty grains.
 
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RyPA

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If you can, that'd be great, I am not making my purchase for a few weeks. Thanks
 

PCABrewing

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Wondering if I can get by with 2 - one filled to the brim with base, and the rest in the other, with my specialty grain in bags sitting on top of the base. Or 2 x 5 gallon for base, and get a smaller bucket for specialty grains.

Depending on the grain, you'll get ~25# per 5 gal. pail. Finer kernels my allow more density.
If you use one for a variety of specialty grains in separate bags your total in that pail will be slightly less.
I have ten pails with Gamma lids. Three are dedicated to specialty malts, one for overflow of any given sack and the other six are base malts that I buy in sacks. Base malts I store loose in their pail and that maximizes the use of capacity.
Finally a 11th pail is labeled as a crush bucket and it holds ~18# of crushed grain. I use this one only when preparing to brew, so the night before (brewers eve :)). That one just has a snap-on lid since it isn't intended for storage.
A real nice feature of the pails is stack-ability. I have them 4-high and that saves space, you could go higher.

Maybe you can split a sack of base malt with another local brewer and you can each have ~25# of base malt in inventory.
Then 2 pails is a reasonable choice as you elaborated.
I'd be inclined to buy all the same size pail.

But whatever you choose if it's right for you don't let anyone tell you that you are wrong.
 

odie

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A visit to your neighborhood swimming pool might net you some nice large buckets that will hold a full sack
 
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RyPA

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At $9 bucks a bucket I'm not going to go through the trouble. I kind of like the idea of having fresh new food safe buckets that are all identical, that's just me me. thanks for the recommendation though
 
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What are good places to but bulk grains online? The shipping makes it nearly impossible to get a reasonable deal.
 
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