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Old 12-31-2007, 07:08 PM   #1
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Default My experience / Your help

My first beer.. just finished fermenting. It is an Abbey Ale, as I like Belgian beers.

The recipe was a kit from the LHBS. I have tasted it after fermentation and it tastes palatable. I realize it will get better after racking into bottles and aging a couple weeks.

I do have some questions however. First let me start with the recipe.

2 cans - 3.5 lb malt extract John Bull Light unhopped.
1lb - Cara Munich Malt
2 oz - Carafa Chocolate Malt
.25 lb - Aromatic malt
.25 lb - Biscuit malt
2 oz - Brown malt
.25 oz - Melanoidin malt
1.25 oz - Hersbrucker Hops 60 min.
.50 oz - Styrian Golding 20 min.
.25 tsp - Irish Moss

Wyeast Belgian Smakpak # 1214 yeast

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Ok let me say that my fiance' purchased this beer making and ingredient kit for me. Her motivation is to save us cash on the beer I drink. She would prefer I didn't drink at all, but she deals with it.

My motivation is a new hobby and drinking the fresh Belgian dubbels and tripels that I really enjoy. I do need to try and save some cash. I probably spend $250 - $400 a month going to brewpubs and package belgian bottles combined.

I am definitely intrigued by all the beer sculptures and such I have seen. I have started reading about AG brewing and am definitely interested. I can appreciate that there are savings in a per batch consideration for ingredients considering AG brewing.

Here is what I have found however; If I go all out and go deep into brewing I could easily spend 3k or more by the time I have all the gear to do AG brewing.

Right now I have about $200 invested in equipment. I have been saving 750 ml belgian bottles to bottle in.

By going all out with AG I feel I am defeating one of the purposes for brewing ( save cash). At a later time in life this may be a consideration as I evolve and learn and outgrow extract brewing.

(1). My main question looking at the recipe above. Can I substitute the John Bull liquid extract with DME? It was a John Bull Light unhopped. What would I want to use for a comparable product and end up with a similiar result?

(2). Moreso will this save me cash?

2 cans - 3.5 lbs John Bull Light Unhopped. = how much by weight and type and brand of DME?

(3). Is there a serious quality difference in taste etc. between extract and all grain?


Any help and insight would be appreciated.

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Old 12-31-2007, 07:30 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stormtracker
(1). My main question looking at the recipe above. Can I substitute the John Bull liquid extract with DME? It was a John Bull Light unhopped. What would I want to use for a comparable product and end up with a similiar result?

(2). Moreso will this save me cash?

2 cans - 3.5 lbs John Bull Light Unhopped. = how much by weight and type and brand of DME?

(3). Is there a serious quality difference in taste etc. between extract and all grain?


Any help and insight would be appreciated.
I hope this helps ya:
1. This link breaks down conversion of using DME versus LME:
http://www.howtobrew.com/section1/chapter3-4.html

A comparable product would be light DME. DME varies by manufacturer (for ex. Unfermentables content and color) so maybe extra light DME depending on the color of the John Bull LME, but I'm guessing light DME would be appropriate.

You should read through this website, there is tons of useful information about brewing!!

2. Depends on quantity and cost. It might save you some, but AG is the way too save. I switched to partial mash and it definitely saves cash when you buy some of your fermentables as grain.

3. I noticed a difference when I switched to partial mash. The beer tastes better to me now...

And welcome to homebrewing and HBT!
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Old 12-31-2007, 07:34 PM   #3
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Extract is more expensive than grains whether it is liquid or dry. To go all grain all you really need is a converted ice chest to mash in, a bigger pot for full boils and an immersion chiller. For me it was an addional $100.00 for a turkey fryer, 25 feet of copper tubing and fittings for the cooler.

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Old 12-31-2007, 07:41 PM   #4
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From my own experience, I'm not saving any money by brewing my own instead of buying it. The more I brew, the more I want to try new beers which means buying more commercial beers. But, those are just a bottle here or there types of purchases. Usually.

If I keep doing extract/PM like I am now, eventually I'll come out ahead financially. Maybe over the course of an entire year or so. This was one of my own motivations for doing it but I've come to terms that for me, it's not a realistic expectation.

You can save some money on all-grain like others have said but me, I don't want to commit an entire day to brewing. I hear 6-8 hours for all grain is pretty typical and I just can't squeeze that in every other weekend or so. Eventually I will go all-grain but I'll still probably supplement my batches with LME/PM brews.

If you've got more self-control than I do and can stick with the same types of beers, you'll probably get some return on your investment. If not, at least you'll get some great beer out of it!

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Old 12-31-2007, 07:44 PM   #5
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Necessary equipment to jump into AG brewing:

1) Large kettle capable of doing full 6-6.5 gallon boils.
2) Large enough propane burner setup to cook said kettle.

Both of these needs can be satisfied by using a turkey fryer setup. Most (or at least many) AG brewers started out this way. Total cost is less than $75 plus a propane tank.

3) A wort chiller capable of chilling your boiled wort down to 75 degrees quickly. Most people start with 30-50 feet of 3/8's inch flexible copper tubing and some hose clamps and vynil tubing...all from Lowe's. Total cost is less than $70.00.

4) A cooler to convert to a mash tun. I had a round 5-gallon rubbermaid and added some scrap copper and some plumbing parts...total cost, less than $30.00.

So for less than a couple hundred bucks you can begin brewing all grain batches. A typical 5-gallon batch will run you less than $20.00.

Don't believe for a moment that you need to spend thousands to start brewing from grain. And as for the difference in quality...just hang around here long enough and you'll pick up on the comparison analogies like (fresh squeezed orange juice VS concentrate, home made marinara sauce VS ragu...etc.)

Extract and PM brewing are great alternatives to buying commercial off the shelf. But all grain gets you to the real heart of what all microbreweries do.

Here's a pictoral that is very helpful in understanding how simple AG brewing is and how little you need to spend to get into it.

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