I can't tell whether the extract kits come with specialty grains, or if I need the mini-mash.
Yes they do, but their mini-mashes run about 4 pounds of grain & aren't much harder.
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I would go with the mini-mash. They arent much harder. Just make sure you have a scale to measure out the hops
Tap #1: Cucumber Honey Wheat Ale
Tap #2: Rye Ale
Primary #1: empty
Primary #2: empty
On Deck: Wit
I don't do mashes, so I just buy the extract kit. The specialty grains come in the kit, in the grain bag all set to steep. The yeast is not included, though- you have to purchase that.
it's not a 'true' mash, per-se. just more grains that you steep for 45 mins as opposed to 15 minutes, and have actual grains that convert. you won't get very high efficiency, but it adds to the complexity of the flavors.