Going bulk grain - need some advice

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My initial plan was MoreBeer, not realizing that a 50-55 lb sack does not fall into their free shipping bucket when you spend X or more. You can save a few bucks by purchasing 5 x 10 lb bags with free shipping as this will be cheaper than buying a 50-55 sack + freight shipping.

I am going to go to a LHBS for my bulk grains, either Love2Brew or BrewHardware, as these are both around an hour away. Unfortunately, these are my closest LHBS, so I order online when possible. I figured to stock up on grain, the drive is worth it, and I like looking around in HBS's.
 

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Northern Brewer still offered free shipping on full sacks as long as the total order was over $49.
Not sure if that continues to be true but it was as recent as last month.

I would definitely ask your closest LHBS if they will sell at bulk pricing. You may have to put a deposit down but good to support local vendors when you can.
 

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Northern Brewer shipping is "free", but they get you by charging ~$25 more for a sack than a LHBS.
Right. Many of their malts end up costing the same whether you get a large bag or order per pound. There are some sort-of bargains, though -- Warminster Floor Malted MO, for example, is $2.49 per pound, but $1.82 if you get a whole sack. (Of course, you can get it for $1.99 in pound quantities from Midwest Supplies.)
 
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Since I don't know what I want to stock up on, I think I'm just going to buy a 50-55lb sack of 2-row. When I am ready to do a batch, I'll place an order for specialty grains/adjuncts, hops, and yeast. I think this makes sense as buying a 50-55lb sack returns the most savings, while buying other grains at 10 lb clips doesn't really save you much. And when ordering other grains in smaller quantities, it'll reduce the shipping cost since it'll be a smaller/lighter order, from retailers that do not have free shipping, like farmhouse.
 

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To add to the bucket thread: get some self-adhesive label holders. They are a clear sleeve that you can put an index card into. Smaller sizes are out there too. Amazon has them as well as any office supply store. I have them on all of my grain storage buckets. When I fill the buckets, I write down the grain type, purchase date, price and where I got the grain from. As stated already by others, I too keep my base grains in the buckets and any smaller sized bagged grains (specialty grains) that you don't use go into a couple separate buckets. The outside label will note what's inside. Make sure the smaller bagged grains are labeled too. I had about twenty pounds of "mystery" grain, an unlabeled bag. It got used in small amounts in one off brews.
 

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To add to the bucket thread: get some self-adhesive label holders. They are a clear sleeve that you can put an index card into.
A strip or 2 of blue, orange, or green 1" painters tape and a sharpie will accomplish about the same. ;)

+1 on good labeling though, so you know what you've got in the bucket or bag.
 

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Make sure the smaller bagged grains are labeled too. I had about twenty pounds of "mystery" grain, an unlabeled bag. It got used in small amounts in one off brews.
Plus-plus. I dumped a few pounds of grain once because I couldn't figure out if it was Carafa III or Carafa III Special. Grain is cheap; brewing time is precious.
 

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Plus-plus. I dumped a few pounds of grain once because I couldn't figure out if it was Carafa III or Carafa III Special. Grain is cheap; brewing time is precious.
Since it was a large amount, I guessed it was a base grain of some sort. It got used with no bad results. Everything gets labeled now.
 

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I put masking tape on my buckets and write the contents.

I also cut the labels off the bags and place them inside the buckets.

Also, check with your local brewpub/micro brewery/tap room. One of my local ones sells base grains by the pound very competitively...no discount for a whole sack but that's all I buy anyway...still a good deal and I'll have a beer or two while they load it.
 

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Plus-plus. I dumped a few pounds of grain once because I couldn't figure out if it was Carafa III or Carafa III Special. Grain is cheap; brewing time is precious.

And label the buckets not the lids! I used to label the lids then one day had several open and got the lids all mixed up. Pretty sure I figured it out by taste and smell but still.
 

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Ezy Storage
75L/79.3Qt Waterproof Clear Latch Tote IP-67


I have a few of these, from Home Dept. I would not say that they are super rugged, but they seems to seal very well and are IP67 rated. Waterproof to a degree. So, just under 20 gallons capacity. (4 - 5 gallon buckets)

This Ezy Storage 79.3 Qt Clear Waterproof Tote is the perfect plastic storage product to protect your storage belongings. The high quality design creates an airtight/watertight seal using a silicone seal around the lid perimeter and offers wide-grip pressure clasps that keep the lid sealed shut to keep everything out. This product is IP-67 rated to be fully submergible underwater up to 1 meter deep without any leaking. Great for safe keeping of your personal belongings. This product has a clear transparent look that allows you to easily view your contents inside and also offers an etched design around the corners and across the lid for better overall appeal. These totes offer a modular design which makes them great for stacking on top of one other. BPA Free and UV Resistant.
 
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marc1

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Ezy Storage
75L/79.3Qt Waterproof Clear Latch Tote IP-67


I have a few of these, from Home Dept. I would not say that they are super rugged, but they seems to seal very well and are IP67 rated. Waterproof to a degree. So, just under 20 gallons capacity. (4 - 5 gallon buckets)

This Ezy Storage 79.3 Qt Clear Waterproof Tote is the perfect plastic storage product to protect your storage belongings. The high quality design creates an airtight/watertight seal using a silicone seal around the lid perimeter and offers wide-grip pressure clasps that keep the lid sealed shut to keep everything out. This product is IP-67 rated to be fully submergible underwater up to 1 meter deep without any leaking. Great for safe keeping of your personal belongings. This product has a clear transparent look that allows you to easily view your contents inside and also offers an etched design around the corners and across the lid for better overall appeal. These totes offer a modular design which makes them great for stacking on top of one other. BPA Free and UV Resistant.

It doesn't specify food grade plastic, so if using those, put your grain in the giant Ziploc bags. All the Ziplocs are food grade. It will also help give them an extra layer of sealing for freshness.
 
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@E606 thanks, those look nice. If I had the space I'd probably get those. Stacked buckets will help from a real estate perspective, though, and the buckets are food safe
 

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I am having a problem justifying sacks of malt with the pricing I am seeing. $70+ seems to be very standard pricing these days which just is not worth the risk of contamination or going stale etc... and buying containers. The per pound price is not very far away and the better option for me.
 
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Online yes, but you can score a 55 lb bag of 2 row for around $50 at a LHBS.. MO is closer to that price range
 

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It really depends. By me, a 50 pound sack of Briess is about $60 (plus 7.25% tax) and local grains are about $65.

On the other hand, I just got an email from Morebeer about 15% off kits and grains. I went to the site and was surprised to see that Rahr North Star Pils had free shipping on 55-lb sacks. I bought a sack for $54.39 shipped with code 'morebeer'.

 
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Oh wow, when I priced them out the other day they were tacking on a pretty high shipping charge. Going to take another look, maybe it varies based on the type of grain
 
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I'm thinking it's a mistake in their end, every other sack does not qualify for free shipping
 
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To add to the bucket thread: get some self-adhesive label holders. They are a clear sleeve that you can put an index card into. Smaller sizes are out there too. Amazon has them as well as any office supply store. I have them on all of my grain storage buckets. When I fill the buckets, I write down the grain type, purchase date, price and where I got the grain from. As stated already by others, I too keep my base grains in the buckets and any smaller sized bagged grains (specialty grains) that you don't use go into a couple separate buckets. The outside label will note what's inside. Make sure the smaller bagged grains are labeled too. I had about twenty pounds of "mystery" grain, an unlabeled bag. It got used in small amounts in one off brews.

Too fancy for using a sharpie on the lid? :D
 

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Too fancy for using a sharpie on the lid? :D
Fancy, not at all. Just as one poster said label the bucket, not the lid. Masking tape would certainly be a cheaper route but since I had those label holders from other tote labeling I used them on my grain buckets. I don't always use the same bucket for the same grain so I can swap out the index card as needed.
 

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It doesn't specify food grade plastic, so if using those, put your grain in the giant Ziploc bags. All the Ziplocs are food grade. It will also help give them an extra layer of sealing for freshness.
Those would be great for those smaller bags of specialty grain, easier to see what's inside than the white buckets. Great idea and of course in there's room in our home breweries - Thanks for the tip!!
 
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Fancy, not at all. Just as one poster said label the bucket, not the lid. Masking tape would certainly be a cheaper route but since I had those label holders from other tote labeling I used them on my grain buckets. I don't always use the same bucket for the same grain so I can swap out the index card as needed.

I just use a Sharpie. And when the contents change, a paper towel with a little rubbing alcohol gets rids of it fast. :)
 

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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.
Santa brought me 2 Vittle Vaults with Gamma lids,. Each one will easily hold a 55# sack of grain, and I've been busily surfing all the usual sites to find the best prices on bulk grains. I agree with what @marc1 mentioned in an earlier post about subdividing grains into smaller portion vacuum sealer bags and have been doing that for quite some time.

Up until now I've stored the portion bags in large storage tubs behind a recliner chair in the Man Cave. They're out of the way but not entirely out of sight. One has a variety of base grains, the other two have a wide variety of specialty grains, though I use the term "specialty" with broad latitude. Base grain = 2 row, pale ale malt, and pilsner. Specialty = M.O., Munich, Vienna and small amounts of Weyermann Barke malts left over from previous brews, along with all the crystal and other adjunct in smaller portions.

More recently I've been ordering most of my grains from More Beer. They have large turnover (so fresher grains), wide selection, good prices even at per pound volumes, they ship to my door in 2-3 days, and for packaging of 10# or less they offer free shipping. It sounds crazy, but if I order 5 sacks of 10# of grains, they'll ship for free whereas a 50# bag would cost me a ton for shipping. The added benefit is that I've got 5 sealed bags (10# each) which is roughly what I use for a 5 gallon batch for base grains, so no need to subdivide once they arrive on my doorstep and I can store multiple grains in the same container. I pull out a bag of whatever and as much as I need without opening and closing a large bag. I gain more options without running across town to the LHBS, the grains stay fresher, and the rodents are kept at bay.

But the biggest advantage is variety and flexibility when it comes to planning and executing a brew session. It's nice not having to scramble around chasing down components.
 
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Here's my high tech method. On shelves in the garage. Never had a problem with staling, insects, or rodents.
20220130_101435.jpg
 

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5lb of Honey Malt is an awful lot of honey malt. That stuff goes a long, long way. Are you sure you really need 5lbs?

You know your business better than me, but that seems like an awful lot of honey malt.
 
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@wetmk If mice made their way into your garage, they'd have a field day. I've never had mice in my garage, and last summer I bought one of those grain squares for birds that you put in those little metal cages, I forget what their called. I left it sitting on a weight bench in my garage and within a few days I noticed the package was torn into and 1/4 devoured.

@Bramling Cross Probably don't need 5, my last NEIPA batch used 1/2 lb, so maybe I can go down to 3 lbs. I'm aiming to have a decent cache of grain on hand so I can brew whenever I want. If I want to use a little honey malt, I'll have it on hand.

Ended up buying these lids, going to buy 2 5gal food safe buckets at home depot.
PXL_20220130_005837043.jpg
 
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I use buckets with gamma lids to store base malt, and two vittles vaults for all my bagged specialty malts and DME. If I need extra space to store something cheaper like 2-row or pale malt, I'll just use buckets with regular lids. I know they aren't totally air-tight but the seal is at least as good as the sack it came in, and anyway base malt doesn't sit around too long in my brewery.
 
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It doesn't specify food grade plastic, so if using those, put your grain in the giant Ziploc bags. All the Ziplocs are food grade. It will also help give them an extra layer of sealing for freshness.
Uncolored polypropylene is generally always food safe, the colorants are what contains extractives. The other variable is the mold release/lube package; cheapest would be animal-based, which is used widely in food storage containers, the other common type is silicone based which is both inert and bio-compatible, i.e. food safe.

on a side note, Ziploc may be food safe, but the blue ones give off a smell and I've thrown out stuff I stored in them for picking up an off flavor. Since then I just reuse the poly bags the ingredients come in.
 

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@wetmk If mice made their way into your garage, they'd have a field day. I've never had mice in my garage, and last summer I bought one of those grain squares for birds that you put in those little metal cages, I forget what their called. I left it sitting on a weight bench in my garage and within a few days I noticed the package was torn into and 1/4 devoured.

@Bramling Cross Probably don't need 5, my last NEIPA batch used 1/2 lb, so maybe I can go down to 3 lbs. I'm aiming to have a decent cache of grain on hand so I can brew whenever I want. If I want to use a little honey malt, I'll have it on hand.

Ended up buying these lids, going to buy 2 5gal food safe buckets at home depot.
View attachment 757648
Blue is a great color! They'll serve you well.
 

marc1

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Uncolored polypropylene is generally always food safe, the colorants are what contains extractives. The other variable is the mold release/lube package; cheapest would be animal-based, which is used widely in food storage containers, the other common type is silicone based which is both inert and bio-compatible, i.e. food safe.

on a side note, Ziploc may be food safe, but the blue ones give off a smell and I've thrown out stuff I stored in them for picking up an off flavor. Since then I just reuse the poly bags the ingredients come in.

Strange, I've never gotten any smell from the translucent blue 10 gallon ones.
 

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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.
I usually stock one bag each of MO, one of Pilsen, and one of wheat. Two "Homer" buckets per bag. A 5-gallon Homer-type bucket will hold almost exactly 25 lbs. In fact, when I get Maris Otter (or other 55lb. bags) THEN I have to find somewhere to store those extra 5 lbs. (or just brew that same day).:ban:
 
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My initial plan was MoreBeer, not realizing that a 50-55 lb sack does not fall into their free shipping bucket when you spend X or more. You can save a few bucks by purchasing 5 x 10 lb bags with free shipping as this will be cheaper than buying a 50-55 sack + freight shipping.

I am going to go to a LHBS for my bulk grains, either Love2Brew or BrewHardware, as these are both around an hour away. Unfortunately, these are my closest LHBS, so I order online when possible. I figured to stock up on grain, the drive is worth it, and I like looking around in HBS's.
Fyi, when measuring my grain over the weekends brewday it was exactly 5lb per gallon uncrushed for 2row.
 

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I have a related question. My wife and I will be relocating to the Boone, North Carolina area from central Florida. In Central Florida there's a couple places that I frequent for brewing supplies. Can anybody recommend a LHBS reasonably close to The Boone area? I suppose a once in a while distance of 75 miles would be ok.
Thanks
 
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Hopefully someone out in your neck of the woods will chime in with a vendor. I'm in Chicago, and depending on who I order from and their shipping options, the price of a whole sack can vary considerably.
I did find Atlantic Brew Supply at 3709 Neil Street in Raleigh NC. They have great prices for the Atlantic region.
 
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