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Old 08-07-2013, 01:37 PM   #1
TheMagicHatter
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Default Making the Jump to All Grain.

Is this really as hard/difficult/problematic as a lot of these threads makes it out to be? I have yet to brew my first all grain batch, as I recently(yesterday) found the proper bulkhead for my 10gal cooler. I've brewed about 15 extract batches and have been reading up on all grain from day one. It seems like a pretty straightforward process so long as you follow the rules of your mash and sparge volumes to your grain bill weight.

If I didn't know any better, I'd think this process were a complete nightmare based off of a lot of the threads I'm reading. What gives? User error? Lack of preparation?

I'm planning on fly sparging to start, but may give batch sparging a go if I can't get the fly sparge under control.

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Old 08-07-2013, 01:52 PM   #2
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AG brewing is definitely not as hard as it may appear to be but there are a lot more variables to take into account of and you should definitely read and prepare before embarking in this adventure to minimize having to post many of the same issues that are already on this site.

Things to think about: quality of crush, good calibrated thermometer, calibrated hydrometer, keeping track of your water volumes, temperature correcting your readings, aerating your wort properly, proper chilling and pitch temps and starting with proven reliable recipes.

If you are a stove top brewer then consider moving outdoors with a turkey fryer. You can also read up on BIAB brewing to start as a way to simplify the process a bit. As for fly or batch, IMO batch sparging is the way to go. It is easier and takes less time and I see no difference in efficiency at all.

Also consider brewing software, there are many to choose from. Some are free, some are not but they all help in keeping recipes, notes, calculations and making your brew day easier.

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Old 08-07-2013, 01:57 PM   #3
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Things to think about: quality of crush, good calibrated thermometer, calibrated hydrometer, keeping track of your water volumes, temperature correcting your readings, aerating your wort properly, proper chilling and pitch temps and starting with proven reliable recipes.
And even if you are a few degrees off, or you don't have the perfect volume, don't worry, the beer is still gonna be very good. You will get better at those things anyway.
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Old 08-07-2013, 02:16 PM   #4
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Once you have your equipment ready just pick a straightforward recipe and brew it. At least that's how I made the switch. As you already know, there are a lot of variables you can play with, but it helps to get that first batch under your belt so you have a baseline to use when you start tinkering. But that's the beauty of all grain.

As duboman mentioned, I also would recommend starting with batch sparging... keeps the process easier in the beginning and effeciency is very good. And another +1 on brewing software... I'm a Beersmith user and love it.

Good luck, and congrats on making the switch! Switching to all-grain was when I reclassified my homebrewing activities from "hobby" to "obsession".

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Old 08-07-2013, 02:16 PM   #5
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All grain can be as difficult as you want it to be. With that given, start with mastering the basics as mentioned above and over time you'll start to embark on tweaking every detail of your process in order to improve. I would never go back to extract brewing simply because I enjoy the challenge and complexity that arrises from AG brewing. I say give it a whirl!

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Old 08-07-2013, 02:50 PM   #6
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It is not really all that difficult. True, it is more time consuming, though not really all that much more time consuming than PM. Once you go to full boils the time takes longer anyway. Then you have the BIAB/Cooler debate which I will not get into. Temperature control of the mash is a little more important but is not as hard as it is made out to be and after a batch or two you will have your equipment dialed in.

I think people just consider it more of a rite of passage and put it on a pedistal as if it is the hardest thing ever. Some people even start with AG.

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Old 08-07-2013, 04:11 PM   #7
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From my experience, it's not difficult. There are certainly more steps - which provide more opportunity for control, as well as error. I did ten extract brews, and switched to all grain. Futzing and fiddling is one of the things I enjoy about brewing, and all grain has provided the venue or that.

Besides giving a more fun experience, I think that AG has given me higher quality beer than with extract. Of course, it takes more time but it has been a worthwhile endeavor for me. Plus, over the long run it's cheaper, since grain (at least where I am) is way cheaper than extract.

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Old 08-07-2013, 10:02 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by duboman View Post

If you are a stove top brewer then consider moving outdoors with a turkey fryer.
What's the reasoning behind this? Greater chance of boilovers at this point?

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Originally Posted by FermentedTed View Post
Once you have your equipment ready just pick a straightforward recipe and brew it. At least that's how I made the switch. As you already know, there are a lot of variables you can play with, but it helps to get that first batch under your belt so you have a baseline to use when you start tinkering. But that's the beauty of all grain.

As duboman mentioned, I also would recommend starting with batch sparging... keeps the process easier in the beginning and effeciency is very good. And another +1 on brewing software... I'm a Beersmith user and love it.

Good luck, and congrats on making the switch! Switching to all-grain was when I reclassified my homebrewing activities from "hobby" to "obsession".
Thanks for the input on the batch sparging. Definitely sounds like it will be the better way to go in starting out. Definitely a time saver!


Overall, I'm looking for greater control and quality of the beers that I produce. My extracts have turned out really well, though darker than what I've expected. Hopefully the AG brewing will give me the color I've been looking for.

Thanks for all the advice!
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Old 08-07-2013, 10:39 PM   #9
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Try a few partial mashes just to get the hang of things. Thats what I did...and when I went full AG...it was like a walk in the park. Plus, you'll get a better idea of how your equipment operates and what types of efficiency you'll have when you go AG.

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Old 08-07-2013, 11:44 PM   #10
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So I'm going to go ahead and put my foot in my mouth(it's something I'm accustomed to), now that I've started this thread.

I'm trying to formulate a grain bill for a black IPA and am having a hard time trying to figure out how the percentages of each ingredient will play out.

Am I correct in that the base malt should be no more than 70% of the bill for most, if not all grain bills, aside from SMaSH brews?

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