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I live in Australia & (as a new brewer) read a lot of recipes online, many of which reference products I can't buy or haven't yet found locally. I'd like to start ordering ingredients from various online, international sources.

Does anyone here order ingredients internationally / online? Have you ever had any troubles? e.g. customs seizing plant products or the freshness of ingredients after a week of travel.

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3 Answers 3

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Finding the right seller who takes the time and care to package the ingredients will make the biggest difference. Even stable ingredients can be ruined by exposure to the elements and extreme conditions.

Hops may be tricky if they are not packaged correctly, and even if they are packaged correctly, without seeing the original storage, the hops may have been damaged prior to shipping. If sales volume is low, you may also get hops that have been on the shelf for a long time.

For grains, I imagine you can find what you need locally and malt it yourself. This is probably the most stable form you can transport it in. Malt extracts seem stable to me, but my background isn't science, so I don't have any proof of how resilient it is to shipping.

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The main issue would be time in transit. Ordering internationally will likely involve the package taking a trip through customs; the amount of delay this adds can vary greatly, but weeks aren't out of the question.

For this reason some items like liquid yeast may not arrive in a viable condition. Ordering relatively "stable" ingredients should be fine if they take longer to arrive.

You mentioned plants being seized, which is also a valid concern. Depening on what you're ordering, and who inspects it, you might have some items confiscated "your hops looked like ganja", or "these spices are invasive".

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I have been ordering ingredients online for years (all in the US, South Dakota <- Minnisota). I've never had any problems with the yeast, although I could see having problems in Australia. I don't think you should have any issues with customs since there isn't any alcohol being shipped. I order from Midwest Supplies and no problems yet (although, not international)

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