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Old 11-15-2009, 06:07 PM   #1
mike1978
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Default How much better is all grain Vs. Extract brewing??

I have been thinking alot lately about making the switch to all grain and was just wondering how much difference is really noticable? Is it worth it, i guess is what im really asking.

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Old 11-15-2009, 06:18 PM   #2
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From my experience, I have made excellent all grain, partial mash, and extract beers. Each method definitely has it's own benefits and issues. Extract is very repeatable, but more expensive and can be limiting due to the few types if malt extract available. Steeping grains can make up for this. All grain gives much more freedom to create recipes, and is considerably less expensive. That being said it will likely take you another two hours per batch and it can be difficult to replicate batches if you don't have your process dialed in and keep good notes.

I don't think that all-grain makes better beer, for what it is worth.

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Old 11-15-2009, 06:26 PM   #3
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I think it's totally worth it, because it's then 100% your product, and you have access to create recipes on your own, rather than just doing pre-packaged kits or recipes that others have done for you. You also can adjust the fermentability of the recipe, leading to heavier or drier beers, much easier than with extract brewing. You can create clones of favorite beers, and you can create new styles that merge your favorite flavors. It's marginally cheaper, and you get to play with/DIY more equipment!

I made the jump not long after I started extract brewing. Here's what I've noticed:

1) It adds time to the brew day - somewhere between 90 minutes and 2 hours additional, plus some additional cleanup (rinse out the MLT, screen, mash/sparge water vessels, and some more hosing).

2) I use twice as much energy (propane) in the process, because you need to bring your mash & sparge water up to temp. I've taken to doing that part on the stovetop, which means that I tie up part of the kitchen on brewdays now - fortunately, my bride doesn't seem to mind.

3) You will make more mess. Grinding grain is a dusty process, with husks inevitably getting out of the bucket onto the floor. Your mash/lauter tun may leak a bit of sticky wort onto the floor (or shoot it out of the ball valve, if it's at all like my last batch). It smells marvelous, however!

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Old 11-15-2009, 06:50 PM   #4
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Going all grain will not make your beer 'better'. It merely gives you a greater range of factors you can control to dial in the precise flavors you are looking to achieve.

Determining whether it is 'worth' it is a pretty personal call. Some people try it and never go back. Some people try it and just doesn't appeal. My suggestion: find an all grain brewer in your area and see if they will let you use their all grain gear (and perhaps their help learning) for a batch to see if its something that is a good fit for you.

(or use the method outlined in this post http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f14/all-...t-pics-142648/ -- I'venever tried it but it looks like it woudl work theoretically.

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Old 11-15-2009, 07:25 PM   #5
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I love AG. I will never go back to extract. I guess technically it is the same as a partial mash if you replace the base grains with the extract, but I love milling my grains and running my fingers through 20# of cracked malt.

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Old 11-15-2009, 08:21 PM   #6
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If you can make great extract beer, you can probably make good all-grain beers. Way too many people make the jump before they know how to make even good beer.

Personally, the method I use depends on the style. One reason I still make mostly PM, I can get the makings ahead of time and freeze the cracked grain. I have no desire to buy a mill, storage bins, etc. And then there's the rodent problem. Had to buy a steel garbage can after some critter chewed though the plastic one.

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Old 11-15-2009, 08:31 PM   #7
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Being worth it is 100% based on your own opinion and goals with brewing. If you like the brew day and don't mind making it longer with more variables than it's worth it. I love all grain much more than extract but I didn't stick with extract brewing for very long to get a rhythm going (2 batches).

Again, completely a personal preference that makes it "worth it".

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Old 11-15-2009, 08:43 PM   #8
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+1 on many sentiments already expressed. All-Grain is not inherently "better" -- plenty of people have won competitions with extract/partial mash beers.

AG will take longer, and will require a bit more thought and a bit more equipment.

On the other hand, if you enjoy this hobby, then spending MORE time and MORE thought and having MORE equipment is awesome!

If you are really just in it for a quick(er) and easier process and you are happy with the perfectly drinkable beer you are making already, then AG may not be your bag. It won't magically make the beer better -- you have to put the work in and spend the time yourself to make that happen. In fact, your first few AG batches may turn out worse, but that's all part of the learning process.

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Old 11-15-2009, 08:49 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by david_42 View Post
If you can make great extract beer, you can probably make good all-grain beers. Way too many people make the jump before they know how to make even good beer.
Very true. I think treating your yeast right (controlling pitching rates and fermentation temperatures) is more important than extract vs. grain.
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Old 11-15-2009, 09:18 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kuphish View Post
Very true. I think treating your yeast right (controlling pitching rates and fermentation temperatures) is more important than extract vs. grain.
I agree, there's a lot of reasons to move into all-grain, but when your beer doesn't taste good enough and you don't know why, all-grain probably won't solve the problem.

When you find your recipes just aren't able to get the beer right, or you want to try something new, those are good reasons to take the next step.
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