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Old 11-30-2012, 02:47 PM   #11
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I just downloaded beersmith2 a couple days ago,& it's now $28. Lots to learn setting it up though. But it can do partial boil extracts as well as PM & AG. it can also upload a pic of a glass of your beer to go with the recipe. Much more.
I think I'll just brew whatever style suits the brew I have a taste for atm. The more you learn,the better they'll be regardless.
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Old 11-30-2012, 02:50 PM   #12
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All extract is simplest, sometimes it doesn't even get boiled

Extract with specialty grains adds some flavors and gives you a little control.

Partial mash is a cross between extract and all grain. It uses less equipment than all grain

All grain has many variations:
BIAB is brew in a bag. This requires the least equipment and gives a lot of control over the brew

The rest of the all grain styles require more equipment and take longer to do but give you the most control over the product.

It is advisable but not necessary to start with extract kits with or without steeping grains until you get the feel for the process and learn more about brewing. You can then make an educated decision about the style of brewing you want to do. This may keep you from buying equipment that you will not need in the end.

Happy brewing.

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Old 11-30-2012, 02:54 PM   #13
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Biab works for partial mash,partial boil too. My cascade pale came out really good that way. Yet another variation...
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Old 11-30-2012, 02:56 PM   #14
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Biggest complaint about AG is the time. it takes me 2-3 hours to do a extract with steeping grains. but an AG takes 3-6 hours depending on size and complexity. i started with kits, moved to making my own extract recipes, to partial mash, to AG. i prefer steeping grains in extract even though i have all the equipment for doing an AG if i want. It is a matter of convenience. take the time to try AG and see for yourself. it will just cost more money and time.

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Old 11-30-2012, 03:00 PM   #15
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If you don't have someone experienced to help you through the first couple times, I strongly recommend starting with extract. Not everyone will agree, but it's the route I took, and it worked very well.

Here's how I did it (first brew was last January). First, during the couple months before I got my equipment, I read Papazian's book and read as many online resources as I could. I tried to get an idea of what the process was like, etc. It's hard to get a complete picture that way, but you can get some idea. The hardest part, really, was putting together a coherent plan---there are enough variations that you can get a little mixed up taking steps from different sources and trying to stick them together. Just be prepared to be flexible on your first time through, you will inevitably develop your own procedures.

For the first one, I went with all extract and steeping grains. I followed Papazian's process for the most part, and didn't worry too much about exact temperatures or volumes. I steeped by throwing the grains in the brew kettle while I brought it up toward boiling and fished them out around 160°. I started with a simple bitter recipe and kept it as close to RDWHA(Commercial)B as I could.

Wait until you have a full day to spend on this and start on the early side---you do not want to rush while you're still learning the basics of sanitation, etc. That way, for example, if you think you may have contaminated something, you won't feel too rushed to stop, step back, resanitize, and continue.

The next time around was a batch of mead, which is different enough I won't go into it here. It was useful, though, because it didn't involve the complications of a boil and let me focus on sanitation and other parts of the process.

Then I did a second extract+steeping grains batch. On this one, though, I set a specific target for the steeping temperature and tried to hit it. I kept notes on how I did, etc. Since it was just steeping, there was basically no penalty for missing by even a large factor, but it was practice for doing a mash. From my notes on the first batch, I cleaned up some parts of the procedure that had gone slowly.

From there, I jumped into BIAB partial mashing. It was only a small step from the steeping since I'd already tried controlling the temperatures, and the impact of low efficiency was limited because of all the extract. It also didn't require any extra equipment (except a grain bag, I guess). On this one, I also used liquid yeast with a starter and then harvested it at the end and reused it for my next batch.

After this, I've stuck with PM because I don't have the space or budget to expand for now. I probably will eventually, but there's no rush. Anyway, I think this worked really well for me. I was learning on my own from books and teh Intert00bs, so gradually working in more complexity was, I think, key to starting with a string of successful batches. I think extract is a fantastic way to learn the processes while minimizing the risks of a discouraging abject failure. Your first batch isn't going to be stellar anyway, but it's nice to keep it drinkable!

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Old 11-30-2012, 03:17 PM   #16
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Or get it right enough the first time where mistakes age out. Pretty good progress description zeg. Just about the way it was for me as well. Just ordered the grains for my next PM batch. Did one pm kit,being glad midwest lists what grains & extract,& how much of each. It help a lot in my opinion when you want to branch out with flavors you liked in extract brews. It cost me only $8.42 for 5lbs of grains,& I can go to the LHBS for yeast & 3lb bag of plain light DME. All said,about $25.17 for 5G of ale.
Where the cascade pale was amber/orange,with good malt to hop balance,the malt was a littl tad light compared to my extract pales. So I changed up 2 of the grains for more English sort of flavor & amber/copper color. That's the exciting part of PM to me. You have the extract to get the OG,with the grains to play around with flavors to accentuate your favorite flavors from AE to PM. *The other day,I came up with "AE" for All Extract. Shorter & better sounding I think... TGIF!
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Old 11-30-2012, 03:28 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hockeyhunter99 View Post
take the time to try AG and see for yourself. it will just cost more money and time.
Not to be a jerk about this, but I feel compelled to point out that the part about AG costing more is just not true. The upfront costs for a very basic AG setup (think BIAB) are only slightly higher than for an extract setup--basically the only extra things you need to buy are a hydrometer and a BIAB bag. And the marginal costs are so much lower than for extract. Put it this way: my LHBS sells plain DME for $15.50 for 3 lbs. for the cheapest kind of DME (what I use in my starters). The specialty stuff is more. The same store sells malt for between $1.80 to $2.30 per lb. for most types, with substantial discounts from that price if you buy full sacks.

Now, if you're making, say, a 1.054 OG stout (like this one here), you would need to buy 7 lbs of DME plus 1 lb. of specialty grains to do it with extract--that would run you about $38 before tax ($2.30 for the specialty grains and about $35 for the extract). Of course that doesn't include the hops or yeast or anything else, meaning you're probably well over $50 for 5 gallons of beer by the time you get everything. But since all that will be the same whether you do AG or extract, we'll ignore those costs.

If, instead, you decide to make a similar AG recipe with the same OG (like this one), you need 8 lbs. of grain, which works out to about $18.40.

So making basically the same beer, AG will cut the cost of your grain bill by over half ($18 vs. $38). Even if you get crappy efficiency, you're still spending maybe a buck or two extra for some more grains.

Now, I know, many AG brewers buy thousands of dollars worth of equipment, which negates the savings associated with brewing AG. But that's a little beside the point, because you don't NEED that stuff, it's just extras. Even with a basic full AG setup (pot, cooler, spigot, braid) you can brew virtually anything that can be done with the more advanced systems, and you're spending maybe $150 more over an extract setup. How many batches before you recoup those additional costs when your marginal cost is $20 less per batch? Not very many.

I'm not arguing against extract brewing here--I did it for several years before I switched to AG, and loved the beers I made with it. And today, the variety argument for AG has gotten markedly less compelling IMO, since there's so much more variation in extract available than when I started brewing. But for cost, AG has extract beat hands-down. How much equipment you choose to brew with is more a philosophical choice than anything else, but AG doesn't have to be more expensive and can actually be MUCH cheaper than extract.

Cheers
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Old 11-30-2012, 03:36 PM   #18
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True enough. My extract recipies cost about $35 dollars for a 6 gallon batch. PM cost me about $25 for 5G. Same OG range too. It takes a little more time for pm,but the flavor & balance is worth it. After comparing the two with my son over Thanksgiving,We agree it's not so much that pm/ag is fresher...perhaps crisper & good balance/definition of flavors & aromas. That's about as close as I can describe it atm.
I will say pm is getting to be interesting & fun to experiment with to try & match flavor complexities between the two as I brew them.
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Old 11-30-2012, 05:44 PM   #19
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Thanks for all the lengthy replies. I think for now I'll stay with the extract kits. I do have a bud(BMC) brew making consultant and he said I would need a bigger pot if I went to all grain which is not a big deal and the extra time needed is also no big deal. I guess one step at a time until I get the extra mastered.

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Old 11-30-2012, 05:57 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jerrodm View Post
you would need to buy 7 lbs of DME plus 1 lb. of specialty grains to do it with extract--that would run you about $38 before tax ($2.30 for the specialty grains and about $35 for the extract).
[...]
If, instead, you decide to make a similar AG recipe with the same OG (like this one), you need 8 lbs. of grain, which works out to about $18.40.
Be fair, though. First, you'll use about the same specialty grains either way, so it's really just the base malt/extract that needs to be compared.

DME is 45 ppg, versus malt at 36 ppg if you get it from grain, minus your efficiency. Assuming 70%, that means you get about 24 ppg out of it, so you need closer to 12 pounds of grain to hit the same OG. For me, 7 pounds of DME would cost $28, versus 12 pounds of domestic 2-row which would cost about $16. It's still cheaper to do the all-grain, but only by about $12 (and this is for a rather heavy beer---the 1.054 recipe you linked is mostly LME, but a 7 pound DME 5-gallon batch is about 1.062). The difference will be less for most beers. My typical per-batch cost is $40-$50, so it probably saves 15-25% of the total.

I think the most basic equipment cost to do all-grain would easily have been > $100 more than my PM setup. It'd take me (at least) most of a year of brewing to get near the break-even.

So, yes, eventually it'll probably be cheaper, but it's not even close to cutting your costs in half on each batch.
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