Pests are probably of little concern for the homebrewer this time of year, and in the arctic climate of Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. However, the major breweries are on the offensive at all times to prevent invited guests from making homestead in the warehouse. Even the way we store malt and the like, is subject to scrutiny because of the way humidity in this climate, can ruin a batch of craft beer, even before brewing begins.
Regardless of your situation, Spring is right around the corner, and with that comes the daunting task of keeping your stockpile of malt safe from pests.
Shipping And Receiving
Craft malt houses and the big mass producers have several things in common. The big guys, they go about production in a very different way than a craft maltster might. Regardless, shipping their products is all about quality control.
For the multitude of breweries out there receiving grain, and the ones producing it, we all know that making sure the bags are intact both ways. This leads to a better experience on both ends.
Bill of Lading: For the layperson, this is a detailed list of a shipment of goods in the form of a receipt given by the carrier to the person consigning the goods.
Before anyone signs the bill of lading for the carrier, it’s wise to go over the shipment with a fine-tooth comb. Make sure everything in the order is accounted for, and there isn’t any damage to the shipment.
If problems arise, contact your supplier and make sure to take pictures of the damage for reference. Documenting the issues is the only way to correct these problems, often. Although no one wants it happen frequently, especially to quality malts.
Craft Brewers and The Locally Grown
Just like the brewers and the ingredients they choose to source local, humidity and pests actually tend to go hand in hand.
This is unfortunate for craft breweries. So controlling humidity is often the first way to prevent pests. There are a variety of ways to do this indoors. Shelf life of your products will be extended and the quality of your end product will be improved.
There is the option to use tested and approved fumigants to rid grain of pests, however organic grain cannot be fumigated.
It’s a word with some dark connotations, fumigate. But, there is a proper way to treat this matter as a sort of last resort. Here’s a tremendously informative guide from Storedgrain.com.au
The Ten Commandments of Grain Storage
Let’s dive into some of the rules when it comes time to store your malt in a warehouse or brewery:
Whole kernel grain can be stored for up to 180 days.
If you’ve purchased milled grain from a supplier or milled it yourself prior to storage it should be noted that the grain is only viable for 90 days.
Inspecting grain on a regular basis is good practice. There’s a lot that can go wrong if the climate is changing and there’s a lot of movement on the warehouse floor.
Find areas where insects are unlikely to invade and make sure that the room is kept below 64 degrees. Above that is asking for trouble.
Grains are susceptible to picking up odors when exposed for extended periods of time. Make sure to keep them away from anything odorizing. Your spiced beer could end up a little off-putting if you’re not careful! Brewing spice falls under these same rules!
Clutter doesn’t make for a good storage area. Pests love to have a place to hide.
Trash should be disposed of, and eating areas should be far and away from the storage areas. Citrus flavors or even vanilla bean imprated with the odor of trash can equate to a lot of ruined spices and herbs.
Keep doors closed when possible. Finishing the door casings with sheet metal can be an effective way to bar rodents from an area. Making sure that dors and windows are secure will make a large difference in the long run.
Ever heard of broken window theory? Business managers often come across this in training as it refers to a criminological theory that visible signs of damage or disorder create an urban environment that encourages further crime. This can be applied to attracting pests.
In the way that potholes in the parking lot, or leaks in the roof provide water for pests. Drains should flow freely without buildup, again so pests won’t be attracted to water sources.
Pest Programs For A Brewery Or Malting Company
Malt suppliers are checked often to make sure their buildings are up to code and the standards of running that kind of business make it important to remove pests from the equation altogether.
Breweries also fall under scrutiny, in certain states, but it is wise for anyone handling malt or brewing supplies bulk, to get certified in a pest program.
What do you need to become certified?
Proper documentation is important for Integrated Pest Management. Food Safety Management Plans cover the pest management aspect of certification, and IPM can account for nearly 20% of that, in some cases.
Work closely with pest management programs:
Being proactive in sanitation strategies is key.
Keep all documentation in case of an audit.
Take preventative measures against pests.
Engage in audits with integrated pest management to build control over the warehouse and against pests.
Hopefully this has served as an informational guide to get you on the right track for either being a maltster in the USA or even just a curious homebrewer.