Old Grain....

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RedMan99

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So in cleaning some of the deepest corners of my basement I came upon two sealed tubs that were loaded with individually vacuum packed, or tightly sealed ziplock backs of various grains. I completely forgot I had these from a bulk purchase many... many years ago. Like 10.

While planning on making some chickens and birds very happy - what are thoughts on grain shelf life? I know its very long however concerned if fit to use in a brew.
Thoughts welcome or just send to the compost?
 

Golddiggie

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Chickens cannot process the grain until it's been mashed. Ducks can. IIRC, only ducks (maybe geese too) can handle the grain without mashing/processing it first.

If you cannot mash it (at least some) then I'd use it for compost or maybe provide it to someone with goats or [maybe] pigs.

I provide my spent grain to a person in the neighborhood with chickens.
 

Brewskey

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So in cleaning some of the deepest corners of my basement I came upon two sealed tubs that were loaded with individually vacuum packed, or tightly sealed ziplock backs of various grains. I completely forgot I had these from a bulk purchase many... many years ago. Like 10.

While planning on making some chickens and birds very happy - what are thoughts on grain shelf life? I know its very long however concerned if fit to use in a brew.
Thoughts welcome or just send to the compost?
I "found" two buckets of base malt in the process of moving that are approximately 7-8 years old. It looked and smelled fine, I brewed a couple batches with it and everything has turned out great. If it looks, smells and tastes good I'd brew with it.
 

davidabcd

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It's not expensive so I'd toss it. It's not going to be as good as fresh. I wouldn't want to waste time on an unknown variable but if it's just fun to experiment with, then I get it.
"Old grain is like yeast--pitch it"
 

camonick

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"Old grain is like yeast--pitch it"
I completely disagree with this concept.
I don’t think people realize how old some of the grain in our food chain can be. Grain can be stored on the farm or in commercial silos for months or even years before it reaches the consumer. I don’t know of any current programs, but I remember my dad being enrolled in a government warehouse program in the 80’s. We were paid to store an entire wheat harvest on our farm for 10 years before we could ship it to market.
The fact that it’s malted might affect the shelf life some. The OP’s grain was reportedly stored in sealed ziplocks or vacuum sealed. That should keep it dry and hopefully bug-free. Basement storage is relatively cool. I agree with the others who have said to smell and taste a few samples. I would definitely try at least one batch before making a final decision.
 
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marc1

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Chickens cannot process the grain until it's been mashed. Ducks can. IIRC, only ducks (maybe geese too) can handle the grain without mashing/processing it first.

This is new to me - where did you hear this from? Why can't they eat it? I've never seen it on a list of foods not to feed to chickens. They eat raw barley seeds, they eat sprouted seeds, why can't they eat a sprouted seed that has been dried and toasted a bit?
 

Golddiggie

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I researched it. IIRC, they don't have the enzymes needed to get anything from the grain. It might not do them any harm, but they won't get anything from it. Ducks have the enzyme needed to get something from the grain without mashing it first. I know that breweries give the spent grain to farmers to feed livestock. Which the animals go ape over. The person I give the spent grain to says the chickens go absolutely NUTS over it and then produce MORE eggs for the days they're eating it. So bonus on several levels. ;)
 

marc1

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I researched it. IIRC, they don't have the enzymes needed to get anything from the grain. It might not do them any harm, but they won't get anything from it. Ducks have the enzyme needed to get something from the grain without mashing it first. I know that breweries give the spent grain to farmers to feed livestock. Which the animals go ape over. The person I give the spent grain to says the chickens go absolutely NUTS over it and then produce MORE eggs for the days they're eating it. So bonus on several levels. ;)

I just found this:

Beta glucans can reduce digestibility some, and the seeds have phytate/phytic acid, which isn't great for them... but sprouting (as you would have for malt) reduces it, so malted grain should be OK.

The grain itself seems to be OK up to 20% or so, so like most things mix it in with other stuff so that they have a varied diet and all is good.
 
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davidabcd

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I completely disagree with this concept.
I'm just saying if there's a perfectly sealed, ten-year-old box of Wheaties next to a two-week-old box of perfectly sealed Wheaties, I'm buying the latter.
I also said that if one wants to experiment for fun, do it.
 

Golddiggie

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I also looked at using some old grain when I got back into brewing. From what I was able to find, after a few years the diastatic power starts to drop. After about five years it's low enough that you'll need to offset the loss. Since my old grain was older than that I decided to replace it with fresh grain.

If the OP wants to experiment with a simple mash to see what it actually produces for an OG, he could then use that to figure out how much more malt will be needed to actually produce a recipe with a target OG. Personally, it's not worth all that effort when you can get fresh malt easily. Or at least we can in this part of the world. ;)
 

bracconiere

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so this went from brewing with old malt, to having me really wondering why they carry whole barley at the feed store!!!

if chickens can't eat seeds, what do they eat?
 

davidabcd

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so this went from brewing with old malt, to having me really wondering why they carry whole barley at the feed store!!!

if chickens can't eat seeds, what do they eat?
Ducks and chickens are cuter than barley. Other than that....
The above posts explained pretty well about the "why" and "what."
 

PCABrewing

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I completely disagree with this concept.
I don’t think people realize how old some of the grain in our food chain can be. Grain can be stored on the farm or in commercial silos for months or even years before it reaches the consumer. I don’t know of any current programs, but I remember my dad being enrolled in a government warehouse program in the 80’s. We were paid to store an entire wheat harvest on our farm for 10 years before we could ship it to market.
The fact that it’s malted might affect the shelf life some. The OP’s grain was reportedly stored in sealed ziplocks or vacuum sealed. That should keep it dry and hopefully bug-free. Basement storage is relatively cool. I agree with the others who have said to smell and taste a few samples. I would definitely try at least one batch before making a final decision.
Yeah, you can always do a micro-mash with 1/2 - 1lb or so just to see if it develops and off smell or flavor from mashing.
That way at least you are not cranking-up your whole rig just to find out it's no good.
 

bracconiere

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Never heard of that,
.(personaly)

2010 is when i was first learning about nutrition, and started eating lots of 'seeds', beans seeds grains...and phytic acid was supposed to be some horrible thing that chelated something....i ended up deciding it was just a scam, and the grocery store just didn't like the fact i was walking out with a week's worth of groceries for $10-15....


i read something like this...just as an example....


but decided, i get enough minerals, and the benefits outweigh the down sides....which, to get back on topic, i'm pretty sure the enzymes in old malt will still convert starch, and if you do want to feed it to chickens, i don't think they'll explode or anything....if i'm wrong i'll buy you a new chicken! you just have to freeze and send me the dead one....as proof you know, i'm going to find out how this malt tastes one way or another! :mug:
 
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davidabcd

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i don't think they'll explode or anything....if i'm wrong i'll buy you a new chicken! you just have to freeze and send me the dead one....as proof you know, i'm going to find out how this malt tastes one way or another!
That was quite funny!
Been watching Fringe (TV show) and that was right in line. Exploding chickens!
To keep with the topic: fresh malt good. old malt bad.
I take vitamins and minerals daily. I would say there's reason to say you're making expensive urine except for my personal experience that when I took them for the first time, I had energy (not coffee-like) that couldn't be explained otherwise. The room literally got brighter, my posture went from slouched to erect. Just too much proof to disregard.
Again, that was funny. I can only imagine freezing a bird, posting it to get a point made.
 

bracconiere

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I can only imagine freezing a bird, posting it to get a point made.


i got a CAN of chicken, and even though they usually say everything tastes like chicken....it tastes like tuna! and as far as i know. people freeze chickens all the time? if feeding old malt to one kills it, or it gets it head chopped off. what's the difference?

and i know i'm lowbrow, but i AM using hops from 2016.....

that couldn't be explained otherwise


when i started making sure to get all my nutrients, from food, even my dandruff went away...blood pressure is great, i stay thin, cholesterol is great. so i'm not denying the benefits, but supplements make me nervous, i figure if people can use thing like drugs to take advantage of people, scares me to think what they'd do with necessary nutrients....


but @RedMan99 just keep us posted on your decision, and out come! :mug: (and that offer to let you send it to me was FOR REAL! :mug:)
 
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grampamark

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What @camonick said.

I’m a grain farmer, and I’ve lost track of the times I’ve pointed this out, but the “fresh” grain that you’re paying top dollar for might be going on 2 years old when it arrives in your hot little hands. And, cereal grains are exposed to 02 throughout the entire cycle of planting, growing, harvesting, transporting, and storing. Oxygen is part of that whole photosynthesis thing.

The malting process removes almost all of the moisture from the grain. A bushel of barley has a standard test weight of 48 lbs. Most malting varities are closer to 50-52 lbs. After malting, the malted grain only weighs 42-44 lbs. Barley is traded by the hundredweight, that is, so many dollars per hundred pounds, so the maltsters are only selling about 80 lbs of malt for every 100 lbs of barley they pay for; the difference is turned into steam. If you ever pass by a malting facility when a batch is being kilned you won’t be able to ignore the massive clouds of steam going into the sky. The point of explaining all of this is to emphasize that malted grain is as dry as dry can be, and if it’s kept that way, will be suitable for brewing almost indefinitely. Yes, the maltsters will recommend using the malt within 12-18 months, or whatever, but they need to do two things. 1. Cover their ass because some folks won’t be particularly diligent about keeping grain sealed up and dry, so there must be an “I told you so” to back up their advice, and, 2. Sell more malt.

All of that said, I wouldn’t suggest that one should simply disregard the age of their stored grains and not do a FIFO inventory management. But, I wouldn’t toss old grains that I was sure had been kept cool, dry, and free of tiny livestock. I can say, based on a working lifetime of experience with stored grain, and depending on it for my livelihood, that grain ages a lot better than the conventional, message board, wisdom says it does. :cool:
 

davidabcd

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i got a CAN of chicken, and even though they usually say everything tastes like chicken....it tastes like tuna! and as far as i know. people freeze chickens all the time? if feeding old malt to one kills it, or it gets it head chopped off. what's the difference?
You got it going on. I was thinking, do you feel misunderstood sometimes? It might indicate that you're a genius and didn't know it.
 

bracconiere

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It might indicate that you're a genius and didn't know it.


no i know i'm dim...and always get nervous when people point it out to me...usually i just want to respond with the classic, "captain obvious" response..completely defensively, but it's at my expense :( :mug:
 

Brew_Dude41

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I am in the same boat and found some really old grains that were tossed in with the system when I bought it as a complete lot. To be honest, by most folks standards, most of my grains are old after not brewing much last year.
These oldest grains are going to help me reaquaint myself with my system and brew some starter wort to pressure can. This way I can remember what button does what, and test all the pumps and such before I go for my dry stout and Irish red for March.
Anyway, my suggestion for old base malt: starter wort.
 

duncan.brown

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I can say, based on a working lifetime of experience with stored grain, and depending on it for my livelihood, that grain ages a lot better than the conventional, message board, wisdom says it does.

@grampamark off topic, but any idea if the 2021 barley harvest as bad as I’m hearing? A recent MBAA podcast said that we’ll be looking at somewhere around 18% protein content due to the drought that hit the US and Canadian prairie last season. Maybe keeping that old grain around is not a bad idea...
 

grampamark

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@grampamark off topic, but any idea if the 2021 barley harvest as bad as I’m hearing? A recent MBAA podcast said that we’ll be looking at somewhere around 18% protein content due to the drought that hit the US and Canadian prairie last season. Maybe keeping that old grain around is not a bad idea...
Yeah, pretty much all of the northern plains in the US and the Canadian prairies had low yields and poor quality due to the drought last year. In addition, malt barley acres are down, as the prices being offered by maltsters aren’t competitive with other crops which can be grown in that region. Good quality malt might have to come from Europe this year.
 

duncan.brown

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Yeah, pretty much all of the northern plains in the US and the Canadian prairies had low yields and poor quality due to the drought last year. In addition, malt barley acres are down, as the prices being offered by maltsters aren’t competitive with other crops which can be grown in that region. Good quality malt might have to come from Europe this year.

Thanks. Sounds like I might have to learn to like NEPAs...
 

bwible

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I'm just saying if there's a perfectly sealed, ten-year-old box of Wheaties next to a two-week-old box of perfectly sealed Wheaties, I'm buying the latter.
I also said that if one wants to experiment for fun, do it.
The difference here is you already bought and paid for the former so it doesn’t cost you anything except your time to try it.
 

bwible

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i would SO send it to a brewer that will drink anything, and then ask them how it was... ;) how many pounds are we talking about?
Two sealed tubs. That sounds like it could be a lot of grain. Depending on the size of the tubs and how full they are. 50 pounds or more? That would not be cheap to replace. I store my grain in Rubbermaid tubs. And one of my tubs will hold a 55 lb sack.
 

lurker18

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If it makes you feel better, even the big guys store malt. I was told that Anheiser will almost always have at least a year of production in storage to cover for any massive quality problems in the current growing season. Pretty sure they use more malt per year than all the members on this board do.
 

bwible

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I also looked at using some old grain when I got back into brewing. From what I was able to find, after a few years the diastatic power starts to drop. After about five years it's low enough that you'll need to offset the loss.

If the OP wants to experiment with a simple mash to see what it actually produces for an OG, he could then use that to figure out how much more malt will be needed to actually produce a recipe with a target OG.
This makes sense and thats something else to consider. You will probably have to use more of the grain to reach the same target gravity. Or you can mix some of the old grain with fresh grain. 6 row has the most enzymes. But most 2 row still has plenty.
 
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