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Old 10-31-2012, 12:18 AM   #11
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Like has already been said, extract is simple, hard to mess up, and a lot quicker than all-grain. I have no shame doing a weeknight extract beer if I need something to fill the pipeline (but, while I drink more than a beer a week, I don't drink enough to make that a common issue).

There are great extract beers, there are awful ones. The same goes for all-grain- good ones and bad ones. I've made a handful of pretty bad ones myself. I think we all have.

That said, I prefer all-grain simply due to extra control. While there are some good extracts out there, selection of a grain base malt allows for much greater variety. And I can control fermentability a lot more, which is huge for me.

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Old 10-31-2012, 12:29 AM   #12
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I've been brewing for just over a year so this is speaking from limited experience. I went to AG about six months in. I did several extract batches and I produced some pretty good beers. I went AG and still produced some good beers. I still brew with extract occasionally when I want to rip out a quick brew day.

People talk about costs but the biggest cost for me is time. I have 2 small kids and if I can rip out a brew day doing full volume extract in about 2 hours that means my brewing doesn't interfere with my family near as much than a 4-5 hour AG brew day.

I love AG brewing but starting with extract allowed me to get a solid process down while not having to worry about other variables. I can make great extract beers. There's more at play than just AG vs extract. Temp control for fermentation IMHO is a much larger factor for brewing than AG vs extract.

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Old 10-31-2012, 12:30 AM   #13
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There's a lot to learn about brewing beer. Brewing extract lets you concentrate on some things more than others. When extract brewing becomes routine for me (if ever) then I fully plan to move to all grain. I feel like I can perfect my process this way.

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Old 10-31-2012, 01:06 AM   #14
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I do both. I don't have a mill or space to store lots of grain, so I have to have it milled in-store and then must brew fairly quickly. I can keep extract on hand and brew some beer when I've got a keg running low anytime I want. I always have hops vacuum sealed in the freezer and washed yeast in the fridge. Both methods produce great beer.

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Old 10-31-2012, 01:11 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Halbrust View Post
But everything I know about brewing (which is little) says that AG is only slightly more involved, and I don't see how I could get the same enjoyment out of extract.
I would say "only slightly more involved" is a gross understatement.

Sure, it's easy. But there are a lot more steps, water chemistry, mash chemistry, more equipment, and more things to go wrong.

The other thing to keep in mind is that some "extract kits" are a "kit & kilo" type kits, which is like making kool-aid. Some people like that just for simplicity, and my understanding is that beer is super expensive in Canada and this makes a nice alternative.

Some extract kits include fresh crushed steeping grains and fresh specialty extract so they can make a great tasting beer.

Back to spaghetti sauce again (my favorite thing!):
-Hunt's canned spaghetti sauce is like those "kit & kilo" kits. Get the job done, and not awful.
-Jarred sauce is like an extract kit. Not too bad, and palatable if you're not too picky.
-Sauce made with extract, fresh specialty grains, and good brewing techniques would be like a homemade sauce with canned tomato paste and fresh herbs and cooked for hours.
- Sauce made AG would be like starting with tomatoes and building from them. This is outstanding when done perfectly- but can really be thin, watery, bland, or overcooked, just as examples. So it is with AG brewing. It can be outstanding, or you can extract tannins, or have a thin bodied beer, or have poor conversion. Far more to go wrong, but possibly worth it!

With one, I go one further and pick (and grow) my own fruit. I'm not about to start growing barley (although I grow hops). So maybe that's not "enough" either?

It's a slippery slope when you try to consider what goes into brewing and what's the reward for the brewer. Each person likes what they like, and maybe spending two hours a month brewing is enough and they have better things to do than to spend 7 hours brewing for one batch. It's all valid.

I enjoy brewing, but if I could snap my fingers and get the brew I do, I wouldn't brew. It's not about the process, it's about the beer for me. But since I'm brewing I want the best end product possible.
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Old 10-31-2012, 02:09 AM   #16
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I am completely satisfied with what I am producing.

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Old 10-31-2012, 02:21 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Halbrust View Post
I drink about a beer a week, so I will be entering or giving away most of what I brew.
I used to drink 36 to 48 beers a year. Be prepared for that to increase drastically when you start brewing. I usually have about 5 a week now!
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Old 10-31-2012, 02:31 AM   #18
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I am completely satisfied with what I am producing.
Basically this for me, except that I really don't want to start on 5-6 hour brew days. I'm not after any awards.
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Old 10-31-2012, 02:50 AM   #19
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Extract beers win awards every year at homebrew competitions, and I'm pretty sure there's a few craft breweries who just use extract in their beers.

I always have around 6#s of dme/lme available for starters, bottling, gravity adjustments during brewing, and maybe for that occasional extract only beer. Extracts definitely have their place in homebrewing.

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Old 10-31-2012, 03:01 AM   #20
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I wrestled with the same thing your asking OP, when I started researching home brewing many years ago.

I ended up starting with extract and I'm glad I did. It gave me a chance to learn, what ingredients smell like and what different recipes might taste like. It helped me to get my fermentation process down.

I then moved to partial mash, which was only because I lacked one piece of equipment because an online supplier sent the wrong item and it took 6 weeks to correct it!! Ugghhh! I did many partial mash batches and so when I moved to AG it actually wasn't a big change.

AG is WAY more involved and everyone has different processes, you just have to develop your own. Read some books and experiment.

I brew AG because I have the time and it's just plain ole fun. I'm all about the process. To use another cooking reference, as if there weren't enough in this thread, I don't even allow self rising flour in my house!! I like to be in control of the process.

There is certainly no shame in my eyes in extract brewing. I will admit that one of the best beers I've ever brewed was from an extract kit.

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