We are in the process of building a new brew pub. We have gotten conflicting advice about grain storage and I wanted some other opinions.
We live in central Pennsylvania where the weather can be quite hot and humid in the summer and where during the winter we always get a handful of days that are very close if not under zero.
One way or the other we will put up a small silo outside the brewery for the look and feel of authenticity it brings. But on the practical side should we use it to store grain in?
I appreciate any advice. Thanks, Rick.
I agree that a silo outside the brewery is great for aesthetic reasons. However, in determining if you will actually use it for malt storage you will need to weigh the advantages and disadvantages and determine which are most important for your situation.
One of the most important considerations is the capacity of your brewhouse and the number of barrels you plan to brew per year. Using bulk malt can result in significant cost savings. Obviously, the more malt you use, the greater amount you would save in buying bulk over bagged. Get prices for both from your suppliers and figure out your savings to determine if it is worth doing.
Another consideration that also relates to production level is that there is a minimum amount of malt that suppliers will deliver in bulk. E.g. you can order bagged malt in much smaller quantities. Thus, if the minimum shipment you can get in bulk is more than you could reasonably use in a few months, the quality of the malt will decline.
That brings me to the next consideration. Since you are located in an area with high humidity, it is a good idea not to keep more than 2-3 months supply on hand since the moisture content of the malt will increase faster when stored under conditions of high relative humidity. And, an increase in moisture will lead to a host of problems and, hence, a decline in quality. Storage in high temperature environments for too long a time can also damage the malt.
In the winter, cold temperatures will not affect malt quality so much, but it will cause problems in attaining the required strike temperature in the mash. Thus, it would be advantageous to bring the malt indoors to warm up a day or so before it is needed.
Since you are located in Duncansville (about an hour east of me), you may want to contact someone at Appalachian Brewing Company in Harrisburg. I believe they have a malt silo outside the brewery although I don't know if they use it to store malt in. They may be able to help answer some of your questions since the weather there should be much the same.