When it comes to storing grain and DME, we’re concerned about keeping ingredients fresh minimizing oxygen and moisture exposure. We’re also interest in keeping Grain and DME away from possible pests. Beyond that convenient access and efficient use of space are issues to consider. This post also includes some tips and general sizing guidelines.
Buckets for Grain Storage – Pros, Cons and Capacity Estimates
Pictured: Food Grade Buckets via Amazon
Buckets are one of the most basic and popular options out there and for good reason. They are generally easy to source, well made and cheap. Food safe options are also easy to find.
A 5 gallon bucket holds about 25 lbs of grain. Two buckets = a 50 lb bag. Two 6 gallon buckets would comfortably hold a 55 lb bag. My rule of about 5 lbs per gallon for grain storage.
Note that some lids are not airtight. The airtight or nearly airtight lids can be difficult to put on and pry off. Also, you will be carrying these. Some of the other options have wheels for convenience. Buckets are definitely a solid option for the price. One of the bigger downsides of buckets – the lids (leaky or hard to put on and take off) – can be addressed by upgrading to Gamma Seal Lids. See below for more info on that.
Buckets + Gamma Lids
The next step up, in my opinion, is adding Gamma Seal Lids to your buckets.
These fit on standard 3.5 to 7 gallon buckets. You attach the base of the unit to the bucket and leave that intact. The lid screws on and off. That fixes a couple of issues that buckets may have when used in conjunction with standard lids. First, Gamma Lids are airtight. Second, the lids screw on and off easily. No more prying lids.
Pictured: Gamma Seal Lid Variety Pack – via Amazon
Multiple options are available in different colors and count options – Search Gamma Seal Lid on Amazon
Pet Food Style Containers for Grain Storage
Now we transition into pet food-type containers. These can work great because they are generally… food safe or made from FDA compliant food safe materials, designed to be airtight and can have large capacities. Some also have convenient features like easy access lids, see through sides and wheels.
- Vittles Vault Airtight Stackable Pet Food Container [pictured]- available in 40 and 60 lb sizes. Stackable for efficient space use. Large opening, Airtight lid. The 40 lb container can generally hold a 50 lb sack of grain although you have to orient it so the back is facing down,
- Vittles Vault II Pet Food Container – Airtight seal. Clear base. Easy access opening. Lid spins on and off. Made of FDA approved food grade plastic. BPA free. I’ve consistently heard that the 40 lb capacity version of this container holds a full 50 lb sack of grain. That’s an estimate.
- Vittles Vault 50-Pound Stackable – Thanks to Twitter Follower @chillindamos for this photo! – This is the 50 lb stackable size with a full 25 kg bag of grain in it. That’s about 55 lbs and there’s still some room.
- IRIS Airtight Food Storage Container – available in multiple sizes. Translucent sides so you can see contents. Some sizes have wheels for easily moving around.
- Bergan 50-Pound Smart Storage
- Buddeez 12-1/2-Gallon Roll-Away Pet Food Dispenser with Scoop – 12.5 gallon capacity. At 5 lbs/gallon I estimate a capacity of around 62.5 lbs of grain. That’s a full 50-55 lb sack of grain plus.
- Lots more options are available – Search “FDA approved airtight food container” in Amazon’s Pet Supplies category
Other Options for Bulk Homebrew Grain Storage
Some have mentioned using trash cans, totes and other similar types of containers. Those may work for you, depending on your situation and the environment you’re in. Non-airtight options may cause problems related to pests, moisture and humidity. Also, non-food grade plastics may be a health and safety issue. I recommend that you use airtight and food safe containers for grain and ingredient storage.
DME and Specialty Grain Storage Options + Grain and DME Capacity Estimates
We’re looking for the same sorts of things for specialty grain storage and dry malt extract storage, but generally smaller containers. If you’re a big batch brewer and buy specialty grains in bulk to save some money, some of the larger options might be best for you.
Grain and DME Storage Rules of Thumb:
- Grain weighs approximately 5 lbs per Gallon or 1.25 lbs per Liter – Justification
- I estimate that DME weighs about 1.125 lbs per Liter
- Airtight Medium Rectangle 23 Cup 8X6X9 – [pictured]
- Snapware MODS Medium Rectangle Storage Container 17 Cups – 4 liter/17 cup capacity airtight, BPA free container from Snapware. Capacity estimates – holds about 5 lbs of grain or 4.57 lbs of DME. Check out my hands on review
- Bergan 10-Pound Smart Storage
- Buddeez 8-Quart Dispenser for Pet Food and Bird Seed
- Rubbermaid 5161-RD Cereal Keeper
- Cereal containers and canisters generally make good storage containers for smaller amounts of grain and DME. Look for food safe materials and airtight closures – Search: airtight cereal container and airtight canister set on Amazon
Vacuum Sealing for hops, grain and other ingredients
I use a FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer [Review] for hop storage. I also use it to store and preserve small amounts (1 to 2 lbs) of specialty grains. I’ve even stored entire bags of grain in FoodSaver bags. I don’t recommend that… but I’ve done it.
Vacuum sealing hops allows you to get in on larger hops buys and store your hops well to maintain freshness. Save money and still use fresh tasting and smelling hops.
For smaller amounts of specialty grains I usually just put the whole bag of grains inside a FoodSaver bag and vacuum seal it.
You can also use Mason jars along with your FoodSaver’s Accessory port to store grain. Using my rule of thumb 1.25 lbs per liter, the half gallon size jars should hold around 2.36 lbs of grain and the quart jars should hold around 1.17 lbs of grain. Mason jars are reusable, oxygen impermeable and you can easily see the contents.
- Search Mason Jars on Amazon
- Also, check out your local hardware store for these, you can sometimes find a deal
FoodSaver Mason Jar Sealer. Jar sealers and caps come in two sizes to fit both wide mouth and regular mouth jars. Note that you need the correct size jar sealer to match your jars.
Storage Caps. If you want or need to skip the FoodSaver part, Ball makes a storage cap. That also comes in two sizes depending on jar size.
Storage Bags. Check out seller FoodVacBags on Amazon for bags that are compatible with your machine
Milling Your Own Grain
For all grain brewers, bulk grain storage goes hand in hand with milling your own grain. If we’re storing bulk quantities of grain to save time and money, we’re probably going to need to mill that grain.
Milling your own grain offers these advantages…
- Gives you control over the crush of your grain. That’s a big factor in efficiency. A mill allows you to fine tune for your equipment and process.
- A mill allows you to save money by buying whole bags of grain.
- Freshly milled grain = better tasting beer.
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