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Old 01-13-2014, 02:06 AM   #1
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Default Going back to extract

FYI - This is just a venting/seeing the light/being humbled post.

I have been brewing for a little more than a year now. I began with extract and I started all grain brewing (via brew in a bag) after about 5 months. I was pretty cock sure of myself when I made an awesome AG English Bitter last summer. Then Fall/winter happened and I made a pretty poor IPA, a questionable belgian tripel and an almost undrinkable Saison de Noel (all of them all grain).

I was humbled pretty quickly. I started to realize that I was throwing in way too many variables without giving myself a chance to master the basics. So I decided to go back to basics and brew an extract kit. I brewed a Red RyePA, which isn't really a basic recipe, but it sounded good at the time. It turned out amazing!

So I've decided to table AG brewing for a bit, until I can get a better handle on some of the other aspects of brewing. I'll start out by brewing more traditional styles that are easier to compare to commercial examples. I will also focus on changing only a few variables at a time with a primary focus on fermentation temp and time and yeast pitching rate. And probably most importantly I (for the first time ever) will try to brew the same recipe more than once and achieve the same results.

To help facilitate all of this I will enter my beer into competitions to get feedback on my work. I have also joined a local home-brew club to try and immerse myself into the local culture a little more.

So take from this post what you want. I was about to give up, but I thought if I can go about this whole home-brew thing with more of a systematic approach, as opposed to just winging it, I will give myself the best chance to succeed. The whole point of this hobby is to have fun, meet new people, and learn a new skill. If I focus on those objectives I can't do anything wrong.

Cheers,

Mark

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Old 01-13-2014, 02:14 AM   #2
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Over the past decade, I've gone back and forth between extract and all grain. To be honest, I love the convenience of extract, and if you know what you are doing, you can make excellent beer with extract. Even now as I'm contemplating a new brewing rig with e-biab in mind, I know I will still, at least occasionally, do extract batches.

At the end of the day, we all brew for pleasure. If your process and/or your final product isn't making you happy, then by all means change it up. If some asshat chimes in on this thread and chastises you for going back to extract, ignore them. The only one who you have to please is yourself.

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Old 01-13-2014, 02:19 AM   #3
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I have been there. It can be very frustrating when a beer does not meet expectations. I have considered some extract batches to limit time and clean up.

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Old 01-13-2014, 02:43 AM   #4
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Been there. I still consider doing extract for convenience, but have so much grain built up from bulk purchases that I rarely do. I've made my share of dumpers, but also had some success to keep things going. There was at least one long break in there too.

I applaud you for your honesty and ability to take stock of things and make the decision that works for you. I'm sure you'll nail the process and be back in all-grain before you know it.

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Old 01-13-2014, 03:20 AM   #5
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Just starting out myself. You raise a good point about trying to duplicate results before trying the more complex. I'll take that. Extract is just so darn convenient too. Especially with limited work space.

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Old 01-13-2014, 12:57 PM   #6
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I've been doing stovetop BIAB all grain batches for a while now and by and large I'm enjoying the results.

This weekend I wanted to put down a batch but didn't have a 6-7 hour time period that met my convenience requirements (kids in bed, wife at work on night shift). That ruled out an all grain batch.

No problem. Cooper's Stout prehopped kit, Munton's Beer Kit Enhancer, some steeping grains, a few other little bits and bobs, 2 hours of my time and I'm done.

Not only was it quick but it's less of a risk than an all grain batch since I know I like the Cooper's stout kit which is the main ingredient of this brew.

Brew to suit yourself and use what ever method you like or is convient for you at the time.

(If you haven't already maybe try mini-mash brewing. It's a nice stepping stone between extract and all grain. You already have everything you need since you're geared up for all grain BIAB)

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Old 01-13-2014, 08:10 PM   #7
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I went from extract to partial mash BIAB style to all grain.

Maybe consider stepping back to PM instead of all they way back to extract or occasionally mixing one in. The only way to get comfortable with the process is practice.

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Old 01-13-2014, 11:03 PM   #8
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I have gone back to brewing extracts twice. Each time I had moved and my all grain system was co owned by a buddy so I sold out and till I got a new all grain system up and running did extract brews

I still have some brews I just do extract, In my humble opinion, if you are just doing a simple single step infusion, you are just wasting your time and get the same results with DME

Anyway, I agree about the basics and have to admit if you are doing extract you have a lot more time to work with the basics. Learn the differences in boil times. how to balance a malt bill, how to get the utilization you want from hops and not do blind hop drops without knowing what effects utilization. Yeast knowledge and the list goes on.

I raise a toast in salute to you for doing such.

I get handed a lot of beers that the only thing saving them is the malt bill is so bad, and the hops so over hopped, that you cannot tell what the beer taste like of what style it is..

get good with light beers, you have nothing to hide behind and if you do not get it right, it really shows.

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Old 01-16-2014, 06:09 PM   #9
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It took me till about a year ago to go pb/pm biab. It takes from about 9 or 10 AM till evening,but the results are pretty good. But I'm concidering seeing if I can get a deal on maybe 3 Cooper's OS lager cans & doctor them up into some hybrid lagers on the cheap. Small partial mash with some more bittering & flavor hops with WL029 it's there! It doesn't really matter how you get there. Just getting there is fine. By that I mean to goodbeerville.

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Old 01-16-2014, 06:27 PM   #10
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I did my first all grain batch and it does taste thin but I know why. Of course I think it is great that you're getting back to basics and such, but do you know what is causing your off flavors?

I'll be honest. Dealing with water is not going to happen for me right now. I feel like if there is water that is fine for brewing available, then I am not going to continue to complicate my life and try to adjust my tap water. Though it would certainly make life easier if I forget to buy water the night before. But if I were brewing and getting off flavors constantly, I would want to know why. Even with my first technically failed all grain batch, I did a lot of homework on the why behind the failure. I think I know it, but only time will tell when I brew my next AG batch Saturday.

So have you looked into that? I'd say do that and still make the move back to extract. I've had people turn their noses up at me when I tell them I brew then I tell them I brew using extract. I always laugh because even using extract, I am still brewing beer and there is still much that can go right and wrong. I do not turn my nose up to extract, I just know I want to try AG and have some control over some brews that extract doesn't give me.

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