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Building An Ingredient Library, Part 1

Homebrewer Josh Weikert covers a general approach to stocking up on grains and hops and runs down the contents and logic of his grain and hops “library.”

Josh Weikert Apr 23, 2017 - 9 min read

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When I told my wife that I wanted to stock my own grain and hops so that I wouldn’t have to visit my local homebrew shop as often, I’m pretty sure that she—knowing how homebrewers are—pictured something like that scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where the Ark (spoiler alert) is driven into the bowels of the giant warehouse. But you don’t need to be that committed to put together a reasonable library of ingredients, and doing so could both simplify your brewing and save you money. Here, I cover a general approach and run down the contents and logic of my grain and hops library, and in Part 2, I’ll get into storage tools and strategies. Before you know it, you’ll be your own private homebrew shop!

The Ingredient Expedition

I love my local homebrew shop, but it’s a pain to get to. For many, even that inconvenient option isn’t an option—they have no “local” shop. Sourcing ingredients, supplies, and equipment becomes a planned expedition. If that’s you, then you should consider building up your own supplies—but even if that’s not you, you should still think about it. First, buying-by-the-batch means you need to plan to brew, which is a structural barrier to regular brewing. Second, it can be tough to find the time to get over to the LHBS and get what you need—it wasn’t unheard of for me to spend as much as 3 hours getting to the shop, getting orders filled/milled, and getting home again.

My first thought was to do what everyone seems to do these days: turn to the Internet. For some brewing supplies, that was fine. DME? One Step? Order them. But for grains in particular, it’s just not terribly practical to order a specific grist mixture. The cost per pound plus the shipping cost mean that you’re probably going to have to reach for the car keys. Instead, I decided to simply become a one-household homebrew shop, at least in two areas: grain and hops. The water I already had. The yeast I could order. But I reasoned that if I had a ready supply of grain and hops, I could simply decide on a yeast strain, order it in (or keep a rotating supply in the fridge), make my starter, and brew away. Still, I needed to figure out what grains and hops would let me brew most any beer.

Stocking the Library

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