Getting out the Goo

Getting’ Out the Goo!

(A Primer For Handling That Big Squishy Sack of Malt)

Your recipe kit contains a high-tech, multi-layered food-grade, heat-sealable pouch of malt extract, officially known in professional brewing circles as a big ol’ bag of goo.  This big ol’ bag of goo contains copious quantities of lovely, yummy, precious unpasteurized malt.  In other words, it’s fresh from the source.  The advantages of unpasteurized malt are many, including allowing the home brewer to produce the finest beer possible.  After all, you’re boiling the malt yourself.  You don’t need to begin with malt that’s already been cooked.

When using fresh, unpasteurized malt, please obey the following laws.

1.    Fresh, unpasteurized malt is best stored in the refrigerator.  But when, you ask, should I refrigerate it?  Good question.  Your high-tech oxygen barrier goo bag will protect your precious malt from its number one enemy, and that is oxidation.  In other words, the malt is pretty much anaerobic, and that bag will keep it anaerobic and fresh for a long time (many months) .  But because yeast happily play in anaerobic conditions, long-term malt storage at room temperature is not a good idea.  Your malt is dense (88 Brix dense), but wild yeast can still operate at such density.   If you plan on brewing within a few weeks of having received your goo bag, no refrigeration is necessary.  However, if you don’t plan on brewing within a few weeks, it’s better to refrigerate the malt bag.  A common story we hear is that brewers will toss the malt bag in some lonely closet and forget about it.  Then, several months later when they want to brew, they discover the bag has swollen (or worse, burst at the seam).  This is a sign of the wild yeast doin’ their thing.  Avoid this by refrigerating your malt.  Your beer will thank you!

2.    Heat the goo and squeeze.  This is a simple process that causes great dismay in some brewers.  How do I get the goo out?  Easy.  Cut open a corner, point and squeeze.  You can make the malt flow easier if you heat it (using common sense).  Some people like to soak it in warm water (just like those pasteurized cans).  Some people like to nuke it (microwave it).  If you want to microwave the malt bag, place it on a clean plate and heat for 30 seconds.  Then feel the malt and knead it to ensure even heating.  Careful, because parts of the bag may get hot!  If you choose the microwave method, please remember that your goal is simply to warm the malt, which will make it flow easier.  You are not trying to make it hot or cook it.  Do your best to squeeze out most of the malt, and then jump to step 3.

3.    Reheat and squeeze some more.  You’ll burn a few calories here, which’ll offset that forthcoming homebrew onslaught.  Now, here’s where the dismay kicks in.  Oh no, you think.  I can’t get all the malt out.  Help me, HELP ME!  First—don’t worry.  At Jasper’s, we personally fill these bags, and we always overfill by an ounce, or so.  Thus, you’re not obligated to squeeze out every finger-licking last drop.  But if you want to get most of it, then place your pouch back on that clean plate in the microwave and heat it another 30 seconds.  Because the malt bag is now almost empty, it will get hot fast, so please be careful!  Now that syrup will be pretty runny, so it’ll flow well.  We like to use a long-handled wooden spoon and roll the bag with the spoon toward the opening, making a squeegee-like motion as we go.  This virtually gets most of the malt out, even a bit of that extra, precious ounce of overfill!

4.    Revel in the fact that you’re now a professional big bag o’ goo squeezer.  No, seriously, this skill is good as a résumé  filler.  Trust us on this one.  And have fun brewing!