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Old 03-31-2010, 10:42 PM   #1
dummkauf
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Default Full Boil extract vs. All Grain?

newb here who recently went from partial boil extract to full boil extract and the difference has been amazing

Now I've heard the all grain brewers saying "all grain or nothing!" as the beer is just so much better, and I've also heard the extract brewers with claims stating that you can make just as good of beer with extract as you can with all grain, which got me thinking.....

Now I'm not looking for a debate on Extract vs. All Grain, what I am curious to know, is how many of you all grain brewers were doing full boils before moving into all grain, and if you were doing full boils, was the difference very noticeable?

I'm curious as I'm not sure it's possible to get much better than my full boils, the last couple I brewed up were on par with most of the craft beers I've found(opinion...I know), while my partial boils have all been "OK". I won't be moving to all grain for a while as I don't have the money or space right now, but I'm just curious about the statistics around the full boil to all grain to satisfy my curiosity.

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Old 03-31-2010, 11:10 PM   #2
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I never did full boil extract batches. My extract beers were still quite tasty, some styles did better for me than others. IMO all-grain beer makes better beer. The beer is probably not inherently better than extract beers, a judge would probably not taste the difference between a *well made extract beer or a *well made all-grain batch. What is superior is the experience of an all-grain beer. Also, I can make a 100% Munich Malt beer, I can mash hop, or first wort hop (I'm sure there is a reasonably effective way for extract brewers to simulate this). The joy and the flexibility that are available from all-grain brewing are the only two distinctions that make it superior to extract brewing in my mind. If you are happy with extract brewing then enjoy, but if you want to experiment with as many factors as possible then I strongly suggest you jump in. Next thing you know you will have a fridge full of yeast, a freezer full of hops and grain hiding everywhere SWMBO will allow.

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Old 04-01-2010, 03:12 AM   #3
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I only brewed about 4 extract batches before jumping into all-grain a few years back. I remember my extract beers tasting good. You can definitely make a great beer with either method, but just as previously stated, you control everything when brewing all grain. It is an investment to go all-grain and it seems that I always am spending more and more money and building/creating new equipment but it is what I enjoy and I consider everything an investment.

With that said and to answer your question, I think an all-grain beer will taste slightly better and maybe a little fresher but other than that you can still (and sounds like you are) make great beers.

Also, I think that the per batch cost of all-grain is slightly cheaper. The cost of grains is far less than the cost of extract. So if you go all-grain yea you will need to spend some money upfront but over time you will get that money back and I believe that the knowledge and respect of the process you will gain will be worth it.

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Old 04-01-2010, 03:19 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bbrim View Post
Next thing you know you will have a fridge full of yeast, a freezer full of hops and grain hiding everywhere SWMBO will allow.
HAHA SO TRUE. 1 whole shelf of my freezer is full of hops, 1 drawer in my fridge has vials of white labs and I am afraid to put to much next to it and I have about 10 Homer buckets and 10 3 gallon buckets full of grain in my garage. But I wouldn't have it any other way!!!! I have 3 temp controlled chest freezers in my garage as well: 1 for temp-controlled fermentation, 1 for storage of full kegs, and 1 with 2 double towers. Cheers
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Old 04-01-2010, 03:50 AM   #5
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At some point I will be going all grain, but at the moment I'm paying for a wedding and live in a town home with limited space for freezers, fridges, and other large equipment, and my extracts have been coming out great recently too

I was really more just curious as to what sort of improvements I would see, if any, when I eventually do make the switch as it seems from most of the posts I've read that people would try a couple batches on the stove and then jump into all grain.

You're also right about the cost of batches, Yoopers 60min DFH clone I just brewed was twice as expensive as the all grain version, but unfotunatley my journey into all grain will likely be delayed until I move into a home with more extra space.

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Old 04-01-2010, 04:18 AM   #6
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I have not tried going all grain, maybe in the future I will, but the thing that has been limiting me is kids... All grain I feel would take me 5 -6 hours start to finish. I have gotten my extract batches to about 2.5 hours from start to finish. That to me makes extract worth the effort.

I have to admit when i first started brewing i wasn't that impressed with what I was making, but the biggest difference I have seen so far is going from a partial boil to a full boil.

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Old 04-01-2010, 04:46 AM   #7
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In my experience:

Extract->Partial Mash is a medium jump, but it allows a ton of flexibility--there are tons of grains you can't use at all in an extract brew.

Partial boil -> full boil is a medium jump. It doesn't allow anything you couldn't otherwise do, but it's just as big for baseline taste as extract->partial mash.

Partial mash->full mash is a very, very small jump taste-wise.

To me, going from a full-boil partial mash to a full-boil all-grain isn't hugely different taste-wise--it has _some_ effect, but much smaller than going from all-extract to partial mash or from partial boil to full boil. And going from all-extract to partial mash is hugely important, because not only do you get fresh grain flavors in there, but you open up a whole ton of opportunities that aren't available in pure extract brews.

At the same time, there are plenty of partial-boil extract brewers who make award-winning beers; there's certainly a level of unwarranted bigotry in the home-brew world about extract brewing. There's room for every style (if you take pride in your brewing) to make really great beers.

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Old 04-01-2010, 01:39 PM   #8
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I did a couple of full boil extracts and AG has been better for me, but I attribute some of that to just plain knowing more and making other adjustments. With extract, you are limited in a certain degree, by the maltsters who made the extract. Partial Mash can help the flavor a lot.

I think that using extract is a great way to brew if you are careful about making it the best you can. AG just allows for more flexibility, and it's more fun IMO.

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Old 04-01-2010, 02:14 PM   #9
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I too did full boil for both extracts and AG. I still far prefer AG. To test the theory, I made an extract batch a little while back, after having done a bunch of AGs....definitely prefer AG.

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Old 04-01-2010, 02:21 PM   #10
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I think some of the improvement in the full boils/AG brewing also has to do with improved techniques. As you progress into brewing, generally you pay more attention to temperature control and yeast pitching rates. That improves the beer, too, so it's hard to say which technique actually is the major improvement, if that makes sense.

I think of brewing as making spaghetti sauce, in a way.

Canned extract (no boil kit) = canned sauce

Extract w/ steeping grains= High quality jar sauce

PM= canned tomatoes, canned tomato sauce, some seasoning, onions, etc.

Full boil= fresh seasonings, onions, garlic, meat, etc

AG= fresh tomatoes, fresh seasonings, etc.

Any one of those things can be made well, and any one can be made poorly. But nothing wrong with any of them. If you're about convenience and quality, you can pick the technique that works for you. Not all AG beers are better than extract, that's for sure. I've had some terrible AG beers. I would say that ALL the no-boil kits I've sampled have been lacking, though. Sure, "good enough" to drink but certainly not as good as a commercial craft beer.

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