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Old 11-16-2010, 04:05 AM   #1
Treshombres
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Default Looking to move from Extract brewing to All Grain

Need some opinions from the experts

What kit to buy? - northern brewer has one with 2 coolers, mesh bottom, hoses etc. is that enough?

Does all grain brew taste different? we seem to have problems getting the clone brews really close. does all grain give you better results? Better taste?

Is there a DVD thats thought to be the best to watch to get all the steps down?

Other than the two collers and tubing, valves etc, do we need anything else? that we wouldnt already have with the extract kit we have?

Thanks for any input.

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Old 11-16-2010, 04:38 AM   #2
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All you need is a mash tun and a pot big enough to do full boils in.

The kit that northern brewer sells is a nice starter kit, but you could build it yourself for half the price. Plus...there's no need for an HLT when you're first starting out. Having a cooler as an HLT always seemed a bit pointless to me if you batch sparge (which I would highly suggest).

Read howtobrew.com and his section on all-grain brewing. It's how I started, and I wish I would have started sooner. It's not near as hard as people make it seem. It's all the additional stuff people do (water adjustments, decoctions, turbid mashing, etc.) that make it seem complicated. These things aren't neccissary though, and you'll pick them up in time.

As far as taste goes... if you tried to brew the exact same beer with extract and all-grain, it should theoretically come out the same only slightly different in color. BUT...theory and what happens don't always go hand in hand. Don't get me wrong...I've had some amazing extract beers, so improving flavor isn't a good reason to go to all-grain.

The biggest benefit of all-grain is you can tweak everything about the recipe to your liking. You can make two beers with the exact same recipe, and they'll turn out completely different depending on your mash temps. Also, there's ingredients that can't be used in extract brewing that will help you move into different styles of beers. Oh yeah, and the price per batch goes way down. I think I'm at about 15-20 dollars per 5 gallons now on average gravity beers.

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Old 11-16-2010, 12:15 PM   #3
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I made the move about 5 batches ago...it is not that much more difficult, and considerably more fun.

Ideally, you need a ~10gal pot to do full boils, a propane burner to bring 6+ gallons of wort to a rolling boil, and an immersion chiller to cool the relatively large amount of wort. No need for an HLT at first, as batch sparging can be done without one and you will get good efficiency if done properly (I've been getting 75 - 80%).

I learned mostly by reading Palmer's website, threads here at HBT, and watching youtube videos. After mashing, vorlauf, and sparging, it is just like doing extract brews, but on a larger scale.

I was able to make very good extract brews. But so far, my AG batches have lacked that subtle "twang" that made my extract batches taste somewhat "homebrewy". YMMV.

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Old 11-16-2010, 01:23 PM   #4
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Great thread! I have a lot of the same questions. What equipment gives you the greatest flexibility? (step mashing, decoction, etc.) Looking forward to the responses!

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Old 11-16-2010, 02:50 PM   #5
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I also have some questions. If you were going to go to all-grain and build just one system rather than starting with the 5 gal water cooler and working your way up, but rather build just one system that you can grow into WHAT WOULD YOU BUILD

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Old 11-16-2010, 02:56 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Treshombres View Post
Need some opinions from the experts

What kit to buy? - northern brewer has one with 2 coolers, mesh bottom, hoses etc. is that enough?

Does all grain brew taste different? we seem to have problems getting the clone brews really close. does all grain give you better results? Better taste?

Is there a DVD thats thought to be the best to watch to get all the steps down?

Other than the two collers and tubing, valves etc, do we need anything else? that we wouldnt already have with the extract kit we have?

Thanks for any input.
What do you already have?

To do all grain you will probably want to do full volume boils. For a standard 5-6 gallon batch that would require a 7.5-10 gallon brew pot. Most people use a propane burner to fire the brew pot and use an immersion chiller for cooling. Do you have all that as part of your extract kit? If so then for AG you need to add a mash ton. The easiest is a cooler with a ball valve and a stainless steel braid. Perhaps a second pot to use for heating sparge water would be helpful but there are work arounds for that.

All grain does not taste any different then extract. Some extract beers get some extra kettle carmelization but really the differences are very very minor.

I think basic brewing radio has some DVD's on how to brew with AG.

BUT

If your looking to improve your beer, I'd suggest you look at fermentation. Any monkey can make wort. Great beer is made in the fermenter. Invest in temp control, a stir plate and flask for making starters, a O2 tank for oxygenating your work, etc... Learn to properly manage yeast and fermentation. This is the key to making great beer. If you have to choose a line of study, I'd master this before getting into AG.

THEN

get a kegging system

THEN

go AG
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Old 11-16-2010, 03:04 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WiseEyes View Post
I also have some questions. If you were going to go to all-grain and build just one system rather than starting with the 5 gal water cooler and working your way up, but rather build just one system that you can grow into WHAT WOULD YOU BUILD
What size batch do you want to do? If your doing standard 5-6 gallon batches, a 10 gallon MLT is a good size that will allow you the flexibility for large grain bills for higher gravity worts. If your wanting to do 10-11 gallon batches then go with a 15-20 gallon MLT.

Same goes for the brew pot and HLT.

Personally I do 10-11 gallon batches. I have a 15 gallon brew pot (it's kinda tight). A 70 quart coleman extreme cooler with a ball valve and a SS braid (plenty big) A 15 gallon aluminum pot for heating mash and sparge water. That's the basic 3 vessels + I have 2 big burners and a big immersion chiller.
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Old 11-16-2010, 03:16 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marko73 View Post
Great thread! I have a lot of the same questions. What equipment gives you the greatest flexibility? (step mashing, decoction, etc.) Looking forward to the responses!
I'm not sure if I fully understand your question.

you can do a decoction or infusion step mash with just about any equipment. But most brewers just do a simple one temp infusion mash. Modern malts are highly modified and complicated step mashes are not really needed.

If your really want to do step mashes a HERMS or RIMS system would make you brew day much easier. But really I don't think it makes significantly better beer. At least not so much to warrant the expense.
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Old 11-16-2010, 03:34 PM   #9
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Quote:
you can do a decoction or infusion step mash with just about any equipment. But most brewers just do a simple one temp infusion mash. Modern malts are highly modified and complicated step mashes are not really needed.
Great point Maida. I have started to do a lot of research on all grain and find myself getting overwhelmed. .
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Old 11-16-2010, 03:40 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marko73 View Post
Great point Maida. I have started to do a lot of research on all grain and find myself getting overwhelmed. .
keep it simple... remember these phrases and disregard all the fancy mumbojoumbo.

single infusion mash

batch sparge

Also, buy yourself beersmith software. It will make all the math much much easier.
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