Originally Posted by Halbrust
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.