How many recipe ingredients do you keep on hand

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redrocker652002

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Just sitting here enjoying a cup of coffee and was thinking of my next brew. An Italian Pils that I saw from The Apartment Brewer and it got me thinking about it. This is the one set of ingredients I have waiting, and usually have two in the bullpen, so to speak. I am going thru my list of hop supply and thinking of what else I can do. But it got me thinking, how many is too many? I have 3 or 4 recipes I want to try but probably having that much waiting here would probably be a bit much. But, that would certainly make my shipping costs nothing. So, with that said, how many recipe's do you all have ready to go with the needed supplies?
 
I kind of have a yearly flow. Pale ale or Irish red finishing up now. Into summer beers for here, Mexican lager and hoppy blonde ale for summer. That’ll conclude with 3-4 traditional German lagers for our annual Oktoberfest party. Then fresh home grown hop pale ale. From there, dark beers and a Christmas ale into winter. Followed by spring and St. Paddy’s day beer.

In between I’ll do some new things but they usually fall into the season. But to answer your question, I have 10-12 beers that I’ve formulated recipes for that I’ll try to fit in. On the ingredient front, I’ve streamlined my ingredients. I use a lot of Vienna malt, Maris otter and boring pale 2-row. Hops, I use a lot of traditional German and English hops. Every now and again I’ll bite on one of YVH sales for new American hops. Yeast, is all dry. Mostly diamond lager or Notti, sometimes a “Chico” strain in the mix. I save yeast and repitch multiple times. Always a hard cider on tap with store bought juice. With that lineup, I usually have what I need on hand.

I’ve also gotten really comfortable substituting ingredients. Call me a nihilist, but I don’t think it makes a huge difference if you need to substitute, unless it’s the star of the show.
 
I'm more of a "planner" and usually keep enough ingredients for about 3 or 4 brews in the bullpen. Once I put together some recipes, tweak them a bit and finally land on the final recipes, I save them in BeerSmith. Then weigh the grains and store in bags which I keep in 5 gallon buckets with Gamma Seal lids. Hops vac-sealed in the freezer until brew day, and dry yeast in the fridge.

Then I just decide which one I want to brew next. Mill the grains, weigh the water salts and get started.
 
I keep lots of 2 row pale malt (a full sack plus what remains of the previous), the base malt for most of my beers; and some 60L crystal for my most frequent brew: a reddish IPA. Also, Cascade, Centennial, and Mosaic® hops in the freezer. I usually have some darker malts for stouts and CDAs, but I try to limit back stock of those to avoid staling. Finally, some DME for starters.

I buy yeasts as needed though I have a few emergency packets of dry yeast.
 
I keep enough on-hand to open my own homebrew wholesale warehouse... ~75 lbs of specialty grains, ~150 lbs (or less) of base grains between three varieties, 8 - 12 lbs of hops. 3 or 4 yeasts in the fridge.

I used to get ingredients for up to three batches in the beer future, but I like this was much better. I can wait up to brew day to decide what I want to brew in a lot of cases.
 
I buy a sack of 2-row and a sack of pilsner, 5 lbs. of Munich and Vienna. Also five lbs. of wheat malt and 5 of flaked wheat, and a couple of lbs. of light, medium and dark crystal. I keep one lb. bags of other specialty malts, aromatic, biscuit, etc. I use dry yeast exclusively and buy hops by the half pound. Obviously, I don't like to plan ahead, so I have enough ingredients that if anything tickles my fancy, I can brew it without any pre-planning.
 
I keep enough on-hand to open my own homebrew wholesale warehouse
If I were to describe my basement inventory, it would be "2015 retail brick and mortar" not "wholesale warehouse". A 3rd party audit may find conflicting evidence. So let's not "go there".;)

how many recipe's do you all have ready to go with the needed supplies?
Back in the 2017-ish time frame, Josh Weikert 's "brew simple" blog had a couple of articles on creating an "ingredient library". The "brew simple" (blog) may still exist in the internet archives. For now, these three articles (from beer & brewing) in the Internet Archives seem to capture the essence of an "ingredient library".
 
Usually I have enough in stock for eight to ten 10 gallon brews, avg 20# grist per batch. Usually about 60% various pilsner malts, 30% two row ale malts, often including golden promise or marris otter, 10 % "adjuncts" such as rye malt, oat malt, flaked corn. Have some sweeter specialty malts too, but use them sparingly these days.

A decent selection of pellet hops plus plenty of vacuum packed home grown hops, (including enough cascade to choke a goat).

Have an array of dried yeasts, mostly fermentis brand, and practice of re pitching for many batches. Also good supply of whirlfrock tabs.

That's all that goes into the beer, besides water, and I also like to keep a few month's supply of brew kit cleaning and sanitizing products.

Never know when supply lines crash, & I don't want to have to adjust too quickly.
 
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I buy a year's worth of base malts (2 bags each of Golden Promise, Weyermann Pilsner, and Briess Brewer's Malt), and keep enough specialty grains and frozen pellet hops on hand to brew at least one 10g batch of each of the recipes I currently use in a typical year. For yeast, aside from the four packs of S04, US-05 and BRY-97 I try to keep in the fridge at all times (I have a few recipes that use them and could fall back to them on most of the recipes that don't) I keep a running overbuild inventory of wy1318 and wy1056 in the fridge so I only need to spin up a starter to be ready to brew most of my beers...

Cheers!
 
But it got me thinking, how many is too many?
Depends on how much/often you brew and your storage capacity. I try to keep 6 months worth of base malts, and buy both yeast, hops and specialty malts when I need them. I try to buy a bit extra of the malts and hops tough, so I can build recipes based on what I have available in between "planned" batches. I usually wash and save yeast as well for those in between batches. If I had better storage possibilities I would have a lot more though.
 
The wife and I enjoy an Irish Dry Stout best. A full sack of Maris otter will supply enough grain for 9 batches, so I purchase the additional necessary ingredients (roasted and flaked barley, etc.) in enough quantity to make the 9 runs. I do the same for my blonde ale recipe. When I want to try something else, I can pick up grain or a kit at the LHBS, or add a kit to an online equipment order.

As noted above, I have more than I need, (in my limited storage area), but less than I want. I do have other favored recipes that I would like to keep supplies for, but just don’t have the space, (for now).
 
I buy a sack of 2-row and a sack of pilsner, 5 lbs. of Munich and Vienna. Also five lbs. of wheat malt and 5 of flaked wheat, and a couple of lbs. of light, medium and dark crystal. I keep one lb. bags of other specialty malts, aromatic, biscuit, etc. I use dry yeast exclusively and buy hops by the half pound. Obviously, I don't like to plan ahead, so I have enough ingredients that if anything tickles my fancy, I can brew it without any pre-planning.
Same except for the flaked wheat. I do flaked oats instead but it was like you where looking at my inventory.
My downfall is hops. I buy way more than I use. I just threw away about half a pound of Chinook from 2018.
 
Wow. Things to aspire to for a newb. I buy as I go for now. I am actually planning to buy malts for a batch this weekend and a batch for next weekend, so I guess that puts me a little ahead. I have been buying equipment and building a yeast bank along the way and bought 3 lbs of hops recently. Beyond that I just got a kegerator and need to get everything ready to move from bottling to keging.
Hoping that in another year or so I’ll be making delicious beer at minimal cost. 🤞🏻
 
Hoping that in another year or so I’ll be making delicious beer at minimal cost. 🤞🏻
Good luck with that. Maybe you can. With a little study and practice, you can definitely make delicious beer. As for the minimal cost, well it depends.

My decision to get back into brewing was driven by both cost and interest. My choice store bought beer went to $18/12-pack. I decided to revisit my old hobby. I was leaving other hobbies, so I now had more time. As a previous extract brewer, I found kits were a bit higher than I remembered. A friend introduced me to all-grain. Ok, I needed additional equipment. Then came kegging. Then came upgrading off plastic. Then came temperature control. Well, you get the idea.

I enjoy my new hobby. I have a go-to recipe that is very similar to the beer that I used to buy at the store. I like the idea that another pint is a choice, not a financial decision. With bulk grain purchases and reuse of yeast, I can make a 5 gallon batch for close to the price of that 12-pack in the store.

Have I saved any money? Probably not. I have saved money on purchases finding used equipment on Craigslist, which I highly recommend where appropriate. But if you consider part of the cost as the price paid for a pastime/hobby, it is more justifiable. My other hobbies had costs as well. It also helps if you can find a recipe that your wife likes so that she believes it is worth it too! 😁
 
Good luck with that. Maybe you can. With a little study and practice, you can definitely make delicious beer. As for the minimal cost, well it depends.

My decision to get back into brewing was driven by both cost and interest. My choice store bought beer went to $18/12-pack. I decided to revisit my old hobby. I was leaving other hobbies, so I now had more time. As a previous extract brewer, I found kits were a bit higher than I remembered. A friend introduced me to all-grain. Ok, I needed additional equipment. Then came kegging. Then came upgrading off plastic. Then came temperature control. Well, you get the idea.

I enjoy my new hobby. I have a go-to recipe that is very similar to the beer that I used to buy at the store. I like the idea that another pint is a choice, not a financial decision. With bulk grain purchases and reuse of yeast, I can make a 5 gallon batch for close to the price of that 12-pack in the store.

Have I saved any money? Probably not. I have saved money on purchases finding used equipment on Craigslist, which I highly recommend where appropriate. But if you consider part of the cost as the price paid for a pastime/hobby, it is more justifiable. My other hobbies had costs as well. It also helps if you can find a recipe that your wife likes so that she believes it is worth it too! 😁
I have bought most of my equipment used on OfferUp. Got the kegerator new with a good deal on Amazon, but I agree that it seems like there’s always something else in the shopping cart. It is a lot of fun and I am enjoying learning the process. 🍻
 
I found that thinking in terms of recipes resulted in a lot of widowed and, ultimately, wasted leftovers. Why do I have 12oz of honey malt? How long has this been here and how do I possibly get rid of 12oz of honey malt?!

Instead, I prefer to think like a brewery. That is, I think about what my portfolio of beers is--in my case, it's UK-heavy with some lagers in the cooler months, then the reverse in warmer months. There's a low velocity, but steady undertow of US styles throughout the year and a seasonal wheat that I brew each Spring. With that knowledge, I can stock the malts, hops, (and ranch/stock the yeast) necessary to brew that portfolio.

I stock three core base malts that I buy by the sack and store in Vittles Vaults--quality pils, Otter, and US 2-row. I break up my specialty/character malts into high and low velocity malts. For high velocity stuff I keep 5-10lb of light and dark Munich, Vienna, corn, rice, wheat, and brown malt available. I use Vienna, Corn, and light Munich throughout the year, so those are ten-pounders. Dark Munich and Brown are high velocity, but seasonal, so they're 5lbers. Rice gets used at a 1:2 ratio to corn, so it's also a 5lber.

I buy the low velocity stuff by the pound, low velocity stuff being: light, medium, and dark UK C-malt, chocolate malt, Victory/Amber, Melanoiden, roast barley, carahell, carapils, and rice hulls. The C and cara malts are generally purchased by the pound, the roasted stuff is typically purchased in 2lb increments in late summer to get ready for dark beer season.

I also have a limited number of malts that I'm experimenting with, one, maybe two each year. Some stick around, like Midnight Wheat, others get used up and forgotten--looking at you roasted oats. Others get used once and thrown in the trash--Special B. I buy these by the pound. That's plenty to give you a feel for the malt.

All of my character malts are stored in gasketed, air-tight bins as you can see in the attached photo. Those bins can take just shy of 5lbs each. Stuff that I use in very small quantities, like Midnight Wheat, get vacuum sealed--it's in the big bin to the right of the Victory/Amber bin (also vacuum sealed). Don't skimp on quality storage vessels! A disgusting outbreak of weevils early in my brewing career convinced me of the importance of quality, gasketed vessels.

Behold! The entirety of my specialty malt holdings, I can brew 90% of every (good) recipe I've ever written with this and the base malts in my three Vittles Vaults.
7CE25806-BE28-4C01-A71F-498F91CC95B2.jpeg


Finally, I've found that it's really helpful to sharpie the month and year onto everything that I bring into my brewery. In anticipation of a brewing season, or perhaps to hit a free shipping threshold, I may have 2-3 sacks of, let's say, Vienna on hand. Having the date sharpied onto each sack allows me to know which to use first and it also affords me the opportunity to audit my burn rate--do I really need multiple sacks of Vienna? This one is three years old, maybe it's something I should buy in 1lb increments? etc.

Anyway, that's what I've learned so far. I hope it's useful to you and it spares you some of the money that I wasted learning this the hard way.

And the weevils, especially the weevils.
 
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I find it difficult to throw old specialty malts out. They have been accumulating for years. But now it’s time to let go. When I belonged to a brew club, it was a totally different style every quarter and all the competitions. Now I brew for friends and family. A sack of 2-row and a sack of pils, some Munich, c-20, c40, c60, a few dark malts and some flaked adjuncts and I’m good to go. Same with hops now. About 12 types all 8 oz packs. Yeast is mostly Chico unless I’m doing an Alt. My recipe ingredients are even allocated to make best use of inventory. For example, when I do a single hop IPA, I use a new 8 oz bag of flavor hops along with about 1 oz of bittering hops. Fresher is better, as long as this brewer doesn’t screw something up, which happens all too often.
 
In the olden days when I brewed and drank much more than today(2 kegerators with up to 12 beers on tap) I had an entire 75 sq. ft room to store my base and specialty malts. Because of my work schedule I never knew when I would have a chance to brew and since I had to travel to a store it was easier to buy vast quantities of malt when I found a store instead of ordering as needed. The freezer of one of my kegerators was full of hop pellets, and I kept a lot of dry yeast and a fair amount of White Labs as well. And it always got used in a timely fashion. Now have a sack of pale 2 row, a sack of wheat and a sack of Munich 10. Anything else I might need I buy when I drive past Tucson after I visit my daughter.
 
I normally keep #25 of two base malts and #1-5 of adjuncts and such. A few varieties of hops at 2-4ozs each... That's normally what I have. But a couple years ago I found out my local brew store was going out of business so I WAAAY overbought on supplies! I'm just now getting my overstock down to a manageable level lol! I guess it's a good problem to have 😎🧐🤔
 
I keep 1-2 base malts on hand, and 1-5 pounds each of some crystal/carafoam and munich. I'm in a simplicity phase though where I'm only brewing beers with simple grain bills, often base malt only.

2-3 years ago I overbought hops and still have infinity sitting in my freezer

I have several dry packs of yeast in my fridge and occasionally run down the street to the LHBS for a liquid strain
 
I always have supplies on hand so when a keg kicks I can brew without ordering and waiting. I recommend picking up a malt mill and always buy unmilled, which provides a longer shelf life.

95% of my brews are NEIPA so I only stock up on malts that NEIPA's call for:
2-row - Purchase 50 lbs. at a time and replenish when I have only around 10 lbs. left.
Golden Promise - Usually order10-15 lbs. when I replenish 2 row
White Wheat - Usually order 5-10 lbs. when I replenish 2-row
Rice hulls - I always make sure I have some on hand
If I have any other recipes planned for the upcoming 6 months I will add whatever malts those recipes call for.

For yeast, I only use dry so I always keep 1-4 packs on hand.

For hops, I try to catch sales from Yakima and keep a decent amount in the freezer. I always have Citra, Galaxy, Mosaic, Amarillo, and a mix of other random stuff that I do not burn through very quickly.
 
I've got too many. 2023 the craft brewer convention was in nashville and our local clubs volunteered to help. After the last day when the convention floor closed, we went around and asked vendors if the would give us anything they weren't going to pack up. We got pounds of all ingredients. Alot of bags of unopened and opened samples for hops and grain, mostly one pound bags. I think I have all the "C's", both grain and hops, domestic and imported. Shout out to More Beer for the full bag of Viking pils. We gave pounds of everything to other club members. I've just been buying base malts and yeast the last year. Although white labs did mail us a bunch of samples for helping out in their booth. Huge payback for volunteering and great fun.
 
I have a fridge filled with grains, dry yeast packets, DME and LME. I brew mostly all grain - right now I have 30+ pounds of pilsner and pale ale malt. 25 lbs Marris Otter, 7-10 pounds of brown ale, caropils, 5 lbs or less of caro 20, 40 & 60, chocolate, coffee, honey Munich, and other adjuncts. All base malts are in 10lb baggies.

About 50 oz of an assortment of hops is in the freezer section of the fridge.
 
I normally keep #25 of two base malts and #1-5 of adjuncts and such. A few varieties of hops at 2-4ozs each... That's normally what I have. But a couple years ago I found out my local brew store was going out of business so I WAAAY overbought on supplies! I'm just now getting my overstock down to a manageable level lol! I guess it's a good problem to have 😎🧐🤔

Currently I have 50# each of two row and pilsner malt, 5-10# each of Vienna, Munich and victory malts, 2-5# each of rice, wheat and oats, 1-2# of crystal malts 20-120L, assorted chocolate, black patent, special roast, etc... 8-16oz packs of vacuum sealed American, British and European hops for around 4# total. Assorted yeasts, both dry and liquid, of ale and lager varieties. There is not much I couldn't brew.
 

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