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Storage Wars: Battling Mother Nature to Keep Your Grain Fresh and Pest-Free

The enemies of fresh malt are many, and some have legs and multiply. The damage can be costly. Here are practical tips on keeping your grain high, dry, and free of critters.

Ben Keene Jan 10, 2022 - 12 min read

Storage Wars: Battling Mother Nature to Keep Your Grain Fresh and Pest-Free Primary Image

Photo: Courtesy Mirror Image Brewing

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If you’ve been a brewer long enough, it’s probably happened at least once: Something truly strange turns up in a shipment of malt—links of chain, a forklift light, plastic pellets, a cargo strap, half a pair of broken scissors. However, those moments are rare. Typically, the malt you’re about to brew with is clean, dry, and free of extraneous objects. So, when you do end up with something strange in the Super Sac, the one thing you really don’t want to find is evidence of insects or other pests.

“If you discover a pest, it’s already too late,” says Matt Drew at Montana Craft Malt in Butte. “You have to assume if you find a pest in any part of your facility, it’s everywhere.” Drew, who worked as a maltster for a couple of years before landing at Montana Craft Malt as marketing director, is speaking from experience. When a small green beetle appeared in his employer’s malt storage facility, it was “everything he could do to keep the grain clean.”

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Author of The Great Northeast Brewery Tour, a contributor to The Oxford Companion to Beer, and former editor of BeerAdvocate, Ben Keene has judged beer competitions across the US and has spoken at industry conferences and conventions. He lives in Seattle.

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