Dry malt extract (DME) is the foundation upon which extract brews are built. I do partial mashes which means some of my fermentable sugars come directly from grains and others come from DME. In a future post, I will explain how DME is made and what it is made of. Until then, let me tell you about saving money.
DME is expensive (as brewing ingredients go). Each pound is about 4-5$US. Each batch of extract beer requires about 6 pounds of DME. That is about 30$US and the major cost of a batch.
To reduce costs (and improve the beer quality) I do partial mashes. The other way to cut costs is to buy DME in bulk. I recently purchased 55 pounds of DME from my supplier. The cost is 140$US for 55 pounds. That will save me around 100$US when it is used up ($2 a pound!!).
I did this once before. It comes double bagged in a box. The first time, I just left it as it. I would open the box, take what I needed and seal the bags up again. Since the sugar is highly hygroscopic, the absorption of water is a potential problem. This could lead to degradation (i.e. rotting) of the DME. I put a nylon bag full of Drierite to keep it dry. It seemed to work.
This time, I decided to repackage the DME into 3 pound bags. This will make it more convenient to use when I need it. A batch of beer often requires 3 pounds of DME. To do this, I did the following:
Here is the box. The picture is a bit "cloudy" because the camera was in the van and still cold when I brought it into the humid house. I bought 55 pounds of Muntons extra light dry malt extract.
One bag has been opened. Notice the dishtowels covering the floor. DME is a fine powder and will fly everywhere. It is sticky and makes a good mess. The towels are meant to minimize the mess.
Here the inner bag has been opened to expose the future beer.
I scoop out DME into a tared picture and weigh out 3 pounds.
To get the DME into a bag I do the following. I place a 1 gallon freezer bag over the pitcher and invert it. Slowly (to avoid a plume of DME) I pull the pitcher out, leaving the DME in the bag. I push out as much air as I can from the bag and seal it.
This is the finished product. Only 17 more to go. Yes, this looks like a bag of something from Columbia. I can assure you, it is not.
Here are the filled bags. One of them leaked and had to be replaced.
During the process, the DME does absorb moisture and stick to anything. This makes things a bit messy.
Here are the containers I used.
The good news is that I was brewing beer and had a place to rinse them off. I dipped them into the brew kettle. The stuck DME was added to a certain Kölsch I was brewing.
The gallon bags were placed back into the box and bags and sealed up. There will wait in my cool basement until needed.
I don't know if this is the best way to store DME. A vacuum sealer would be great, but I don't have one. I'll let you know if it doesn't work.
While it may look like you are dividing something up with the intent to distribute, buying DME in bulk is a great way to save money. Unless of course you have to pay the shipping.
After dividing up the DME, I had to mop the floor to remove any sticky residue. I consulted my wife for directions on how to use a mop. Apparently, the motion used to operate a mop is the same as that used to operate a vacuum cleaner. Hmm, I learned something.