Shelf life for grain

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jmill

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I was a very frequent homebrewer for a while, but took an extended break after some life events. I'm getting back into things now and doing my first brew this weekend in almost 2 years.

I've been inventorying bulk ingredients that I purchased prior to taking a break from brewing. All of the grain is unmilled and stored in either vacuum-sealed packs or food-safe buckets with the screw on lids. Stored in my garage in central TX, so lots of heat during the summer.

Would unmilled grain from 2016 still be fine to use? Wanted to see if anyone had any definitive answer here, but will likely give it a try unless there are bugs or bad smells.
 

RPh_Guy

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will likely give it a try unless there are bugs or bad smells.
Also visually check for mold.


Wanted to see if anyone had any definitive answer here
Definitively, it will make beer. The enzymes do not degrade to any significant extent. However, moisture uptake may negatively affect milling and extraction, which is what @MattyHBT was suggesting to test since it will cause a change in texture. With regard to flavor, any amount of deterioration during storage seems to be irrelevant for most home brewers since the susceptible malt compounds (lipids, proteins, phenolics, melanoidins, non-starch polysaccharides, and heterocyclics) are fully oxidized during mashing when using a conventional process.
 

MHBT

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Also visually check for mold.



Definitively, it will make beer. The enzymes do not degrade to any significant extent. However, moisture uptake may negatively affect milling and extraction, which is what @MattyHBT was suggesting to test since it will cause a change in texture. With regard to flavor, any amount of deterioration during storage seems to be irrelevant for most home brewers since the susceptible malt compounds (lipids, proteins, phenolics, melanoidins, non-starch polysaccharides, and heterocyclics) are fully oxidized during mashing when using a conventional process.
Exactly what i was thinking, if you are a lodo brewer i wouldn’t use 6 year old grains but if they are still crunchy and taste ok get rid of them the best way possible and thats make a batch/batches even if its not the freshest,tastiest beer you can make at least the grains got used and didn’t toss them win win
 
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BackoftheNet

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I was given 25kg crushed extra pale 2 row about a year ago that had just passed its sell by date. I had been hitting my OG fine with my brewzilla but the last 2 brews were 20 and then 10 points too low. Could it be the old grain?
 

RPh_Guy

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I was given 25kg crushed extra pale 2 row about a year ago that had just passed its sell by date. I had been hitting my OG fine with my brewzilla but the last 2 brews were 20 and then 10 points too low. Could it be the old grain?

Do you mill the grain yourself? Moisture uptake can reduce extraction by affecting the milling process.

See here for more detailed info:
 

BackoftheNet

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Do you mill the grain yourself? Moisture uptake can reduce extraction by affecting the milling process.

See here for more detailed info:
Hi. No it was donated to me as a pre milled sack. It still smells great and makes nice beer just a lot weaker than expected. The beers I made before Christmas all more or less hit their numbers using this grain so it seems odd that it's just the last 2 that have been miles out
 

Alan Reginato

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Eat some, if its like the texture of stale popcorn dont use it, if its crunchy and tastes good go for it
Actually, look for mold or sour taste.

Even it's feel like stale popcorn, it's ok to go. A friend of mine, against my advice, brew with malt like that. It was nearly soft at chewing... Not sour or mold detected. And the beers turns ok. And he brewed a quite clear lager.
 

MHBT

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Actually, look for mold or sour taste.

Even it's feel like stale popcorn, it's ok to go. A friend of mine, against my advice, brew with malt like that. It was nearly soft at chewing... Not sour or mold detected. And the beers turns ok. And he brewed a quite clear lager.
sour wont happen if they are dry and mold is a obvious thing, wont eat moldy bread right?
 

RPh_Guy

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Hi. No it was donated to me as a pre milled sack. It still smells great and makes nice beer just a lot weaker than expected. The beers I made before Christmas all more or less hit their numbers using this grain so it seems odd that it's just the last 2 that have been miles out
I suspect there's something else going on, not related to the grain age.
 

Oleson M.D.

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My thought is if the grain is stored in an air conditioned environment, with low humidity, it should last for a long time. Our grains are kept in their original packaging.
 

Brewdog80

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Just finished my bag of pale ale malt that was 4 years old. Worked fine, was kept cool and worked fine in the last brew
 
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OP has with a 25kg / 55bag of premilled grain (#7) that is about a year past it's 'sell by' date (#5).



@BackoftheNet : consider brewing a single malt test batch where you can measure efficiencies and get a good beer (of uncertain strength).

There are a number of ways to approach this, depending on equipment and other ingredients. If you are willing to create additional worts, splitting and blending can add "tasty complications" to brew day.
 

BackoftheNet

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Thanks All. Missing gravity by 20 PTS was a big one. I think on the second I was short of pre boil volume so used all the sparge water as calculated by the Grainfather site which I don't normally do. I was still short on volume so maybe the problem lies in over diluting the wort on the 2nd batch
 

BackoftheNet

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OP has with a 25kg / 55bag of premilled grain (#7) that is about a year past it's 'sell by' date (#5).



@BackoftheNet : consider brewing a single malt test batch where you can measure efficiencies and get a good beer (of uncertain strength).

There are a number of ways to approach this, depending on equipment and other ingredients. If you are willing to create additional worts, splitting and blending can add "tasty complications" to brew day.
Great idea. Will give that a try rather than dumping the grain. Thanks
 
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Something else to look for is a large quantity of dust on the bottom of the container, more than when the grain was fresh. I store my specialty grains in clear, sealed, deli cup containers. It took me over a year to get back to looking at a brew that never happened and the bugs apparently had a good time. Now if the extra protein and some *previously processed* grain doesn't bother you, go ahead and brew with it. I dropped it in the mulch bin.
 

Oleson M.D.

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If bugs are there, you will normally be able to see them. Crawling around. Ask me how I know.
 
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