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Standard Brew Ingredient Shelf Life

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As I embark upon putting together my own recipes I want to get the best price for my supplies which I'd assume means purchasing more than what is required for a given batch and/or online. That brings up shelf life of the core items that you'd purchase. So what is the general shelf life for:

Whole Hops
Pellet Hops
Grains/Steeping
Liquid yeast.
DME (does this ever get old?)

I know this can be a loaded question depending on how old it was by the time you get it but assuming you're purchasing from locales that only sell "the freshest". Being a kit guy historically and that kits don't really show any "Use before Date". What of these items actually come with an expiration date?

Bonus question for you that do purchase online would be where have you found the best place to get these items (quality/price).

Man, I don't ask for much do I? :rolleyes:
 

Tophe

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Im not positive, but i would think that the grains, and extract would stay good for a long time , as long as theyre sealed. The hops probably does pretty good , as long as its sealed and refrigerated. Yeast usually has a date on it. I would try and use pretty fresh yeast though.
 

Janx

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Hops - keep refrigerated and they'll last a while. The best quality I have hound is hoptech.com. I just got some hops from Norther Brewer, which were cheaper, and they looked OK for the most part, but not as high quality as the hoptech ones. There's a thread here called "Online Hop Sources" with more in it.

Grains - keep them in a sealed container like a bucket. Dry/humidity-free is the name of the game. They'll last a good while. I usually don't have them more than a couple of months because I brew a lot, but I think 6 months at least stored properly.

Liquid yeast - Has an expiration date, but can be used after the date provided you make a starter well in advance. My HBS owner gave us some old lager yeasts he couldn't sell and they came back to life just fin once I made a starter and gave them a few extra days. Always refrigerate yeast.

DME - is fine as log as it's dry and not humid. Humidity will turn it into a brick. If it's in a closed bag, it'll last a long time.

As far as online purchase of bulk stuff like grains, I just placed my first order for that kind of stuff with www.morebeer.com. They have a great price on 50lb sacks of grain, especially if you get 4 of them, and get this...FREE SHIPPING. I was always reluctant to order grains even though I live in the middle of nowhere because of shipping. I don't know how they do it. My UPS guy is gonna hate me.

I have not gotten ingredients from morebeer before, but every piece of equipment I have gotten is really top quality. I should have my order of about 400lbs of grain tomorrow for brewing this weekend.
 
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DesertBrew
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Thanks much Janx. That's helpful. Humidity is a non issue where I live!

I think I'll purchase my 1st batch of whole hops locally. I've never seen them in person to determine what good/bad ones look like. Do they 'dry up', brown up, wilt like lettuce once they start getting old...
 

Janx

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desertBrew said:
I've never seen them in person to determine what good/bad ones look like. Do they 'dry up', brown up, wilt like lettuce once they start getting old...
They do brown up. some types, like East Kent Goldings, are very hard for the homebrewer to get great quality, so you often have to compromise. But great domestic hops can be had. Cascade, Columbus, Centennial...hoptech has awesome whole hop quality for those. Heck, their EKG is really good too. The EKG I got from Northern Brewer is just awful. I'll probably just let them age for some Belgians.

When the alpha acids oxidize, they turn yellow. You'll often see some degree of yellow/orange powder at the bottom of the bag and that's oxidized oils. You want to look for a minimal amount of yellowing. Also, if you get them from someplace good like hoptech, they'll be shipped in lightproof, nitrogen-filled bags which keeps them fresh. So look for proper storage, too. Cheers! :D
 

tagz

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I found some Munich that's about a year old and is still sealed in the original bag. Is it still good to use, or should I feed it to the chickens?
 

prosper

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uncrushed base grains will keep for years if kept rodent-free, and reasonably sealed up. If you're really anxious about log-term storage, you can get 1lb dessicant packs to toss in there to keep things dry. Munch on a few grains, and if they're still crunchy and crisp, they're good to go. If they're mealy and stale, then toss 'em.

Specialty grains - especially crystal malts will keep indefinitely. Again, try to keep them relatively well sealed up (a ziploc bag is good no need for vacuum sealing or anything crazy).

Pellet hops keep for a lot longer than people generally expect. Well sealed (this is where the vacuum sealer comes in) and kept in a deep freezer (mine's -40F), they will keep for years.
 

tagz

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Oh good. Thanks. I also found some carapils and crystal but I was going to toss them because they had been opened. I'll open the ziplocks and check on the texture.
 
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