How to Store Your Home Brewing Supplies
Over the past few years, home brewing has become a popular hobby as beer lovers everywhere are trying their hands at creating their own signature brews; in fact, recent research estimates that there are 1.2 million home brewers in the United States, and that last year there saw a 24% year-over-year increase in sales of beginner homebrew equipment kits.
Like following a recipe, brewing is simple in theory; however, it takes a lifetime to master, and a beginner brewer might run into issues when it comes to correctly storing their brewing supplies and ingredients. You might think that your basement is sufficient, or maybe a corner in your backyard shed; however, some ingredients and equipment for home brewing are delicate and require specific temperature and humidity conditions when being stored, whether in a freezer in your garage or in a dedicated storage facility. Malted grain and liquid malted grain should be stored between 50-70 degrees; climate controlled storage is essential to prevent your ingredients from spoiling. Malted grain should be kept in an airtight, dry container that will keep out bugs and mice, which will keep uncrushed grain good for a year or crushed grain good for 2-3 months.Liquid malted grain, similarly, should be stored in the can in which it’s sold, following the expiration date on the can. If you open the can, the shelf life of liquid malted grain will be three months, but you can refrigerate the liquid malted grain in the smallest possible container to avoid oxidization, spoilage, contamination- and worst of all, “skunked” beer.
Hops are very delicate, and should be stored away from heat, light, and oxygen, making an air-tight container in the freezer your best bet. Stored carefully this way, hops can last up to a year, thanks to their natural preservative qualities.
Yeast, meanwhile, should be stored in the fridge within the manufacturer’s packaging and according to the manufacturer’s expiration date. If stored in poorly sanitized or damaged plastic containers, some bacterial buildup can lead to over-carbonation and enough pressure to create ‘bottle bombs’.
Even if you aren’t putting your equipment away for a hiatus, you can still improve your home brewing storage to help you focus on brewing crisp, delicious, and drinkable beers. Use hooks or a pegboard to hang small items like stirring spoons, racking canes, and bottle brushes. A file cabinet can be perfect for storing unused bottles, while plastic shelving is ideal for vertically storing larger elements, like fermenters. Compartmentalized toolboxes can be used for smaller items, like bottle caps and airlocks, and dry ingredients (like spices, Irish moss, gypsum, and Burton water salts) should be stored at room temperature in airtight bags.
As with anything else you cook, bake, or brew, the quality of your final product will depend on the integrity of your ingredients, your equipment, and how you store both your ingredients and equipment, whether you keep them in a storage facility in Peoria or in your own garage. By storing your ingredients and equipment according to best practices, you’ll be able to sit back, relax, and enjoy your own delicious home-brewed beer.