The malt bag problem


Malt bags, malt bags, what to do with the malt bags? It’s one of the problems of being small. Big breweries get their malt in truckloads, stored in hoppers, or at least get it in one tonne bags. Mine comes in 25kg bags. Each batch of beer empties at least one bag and if you brew a couple of times a week, every week of the year, that’s a lot of bags.

I’m not fanatically environmental but you have to think about what happens to stuff when you’re done with it. Apart from these bags, brewing is fairly benign. The spent grains are fed to the chickens or composted along with the used hops. The boxes for the beer are reused as often as possible and then recycled. The bottles are recycled.

But these bags. You can’t just throw them away. It’s not just that they’re plastic. They’re same sort of woven plastic used for IKEA blue bags so that’s a good, sturdy bag that could be used for something else rather than getting dumped in landfill.

And they have been used – for storing wood and kindling for the fire, filled full of rubbish, or you can grow potatoes in them – but mostly they have just been accumulating. Folded up and stored for some undiscovered purpose.

Over Christmas I worked out that if you take out the dusty plastic liner you get a clean bag and if you cut them in half you can recycle each bag into two bags that are the perfect size for a box of beer. So that’s what I’ve been doing.

The idea is that you buy a box of beer and carry it off in its own Brew Shed bag, which you should, of course, reuse, preferably by bringing it back to fill with another box. But other uses are acceptable.

And you can do the same thing with the paper bags that the Woodlea flour is delivered in. From a flour sack you get a sturdy (and very handsome) paper bag that can comfortably take 8 bottles of beer. Unlike the malt bag, now that I’ve replaced the malt bag handles with paper handles, when this one eventually breaks, it is completely recyclable.


The malt bag problem