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Old 05-01-2009, 09:24 PM   #1
ScarySouthernMan
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Default Grain vs. Extract... Noob help!

Ok,

After briefly reading over some very generalized info on the net, I figured that there is a decision to make.

Is it true that the whole grain process has a more genuine representation of the flavors?

Are there ANY homebrewer's that PREFER the finished product of an extract OVER the whole grain method?

It seems to me that if your ambition is to make awesome beer, that there is a certain quality from whole grains that may be sacrificed when you opt for extract???

This is just the observation of a very interested beginner... Well more of a helper I suppose. I don't currently posses the knowledge to try and tackle the art of brewing by myself, but I had a very fun and positive experience with an old friend this past weekend. He prefers the whole grain method which (again, from the eyes of inexperience here) seems to be much more authentic of a product... And OH the smell of it! It was beautful.


What are some of the arguments for and against both sides of the fence? Is extract brewing ONLY for begginers? Are there any prestigious brews from extract? I'd love to hear some experience weigh in on the subject.

Thanks so much ahead of time,

- Scary



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Old 05-01-2009, 09:40 PM   #2
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I know of exactly one brewer who personally prefers extract and makes some award winning, excellent beers. He did venture into AG and quickly went back to extract. he just didn't see the point of the extra gear and time.

Personal preference and approach are the keys. Know the limits of what you can do with what you have, approach them realistically, and you'll make excellent beer either way.

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Old 05-01-2009, 09:56 PM   #3
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I'm an AG brewer, but still have a couple recipes that are extract to try. IMO, AG is like making bread from scratch. You could potentially be getting better ingredients and recipe then from a "mix"....but then, you might not. An extract kit is less work and might yield great results. Mixing several types of extracts in a recipe might yield a better blend, and it might yield a better template of what a particular beer is then AG. One of my favorite beer styles is imperial stout....the absolute best one I've made is an AG recipe.....but the second best one was an extract version. AG gives you more room for tweaking, which can either give you more room for balanced flavor or more room for just funky off flavors

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Old 05-01-2009, 10:15 PM   #4
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Even if you want to become an all-grain brewer, I would suggest that it is much easier to start with extract. Once you have a feel for the process of extract brewing, then add the additional variables that come with all-grain. Everything you would learn in extract brewing is applicable to all-grain, so it wouldn't be a waste of time. In addition, if you take into account that you will be going towards all-grain, you can acquire the equipment needed for extract and add on later, rather than spending the $$$ for an extract setup and only later realizing that it can't be used for all-grain (BTDT).

I'd say that the worst thing that could happen is to get completely overwhelmed by starting in with all-grain, and lose interest due to the frustration that nothing is going right for you.

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Old 05-01-2009, 10:29 PM   #5
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I started reading over everything, and didn't even want to start doing extract. I jumped right into all grain. First batch went fine. My 2nd batch was an extract, due to being gluten free, and my only extract. I enjoy all grain much more than extract. Yea extract is easier and requires less equipment, but I knew I was going to do all grain in no time anyway, so didn't want to even bother with extracts. All grain is not nearly as difficult as some people make it out to be. Pretty easy IMO. Just read and know exactly what to do before you try it and you should be just fine. My other 2 batches have been just fine. My FES was my first recipe and first brew on my own equipment and went great. Got 75% efficiency. Most people start with extract, but if you know you're serious about brewing, why not jump into all grain.

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Old 05-01-2009, 10:51 PM   #6
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It all comes down to preference...and how much time and money you want to invest in your hobby.

I've been brewing since 1994. I won Best of Style and Best of Show with an ALL EXTRACT German-style Hefe Weizen in 1997. My first contest. I'm not into awards and such so I have nothing to prove to anyone.

I still use a lot of extract, but have done a lot of partial mashes.

I seriously doubt I will ever go all grain (unless someone gave me all the necessary equipment), but that's me.

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Old 05-02-2009, 12:20 AM   #7
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There are tons of very high quality, award-winning brews that were made with extract. There is nothing wrong with using extract and it is a much easier way to go with a much smaller upfront investment. The downside to extract is that someone else has done your mash for you, and you have no control over the mash.

When you go all grain and have control over the mash, you then have complete control over the flavor profile of the beer. There are some styles that are difficult to make using extract, and there are some procedures that you cannot perform with extract. After the initial investment, each batch of all-grain beer will cost you less than extract.

Both are great ways to make beer, IMHO it is a trade-off between simplicity and variety/control.

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Old 05-02-2009, 12:28 AM   #8
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I began brewing with all-grain. The most terrifying part of brewing is cooling, yeast re-hydration and pitching, and later, bottling. So many bugs and oxygen to avoid, and you have to do all this with extract.

Mashing is fun and simple by comparison, but you do need more equipment and time.

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Old 05-02-2009, 03:49 AM   #9
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Wow,

Those are exactly the opinions I was needing/looking for. Thank you all so much for your input and time. My goal is to learn as much as humanly possible about the two serperate methods and make a decision therein.

So integrity seems to be a split opinion, which in my eyes, leaves plenty of room for healthy debate/discussion. I'm leaning towards the AG method due primarily to the fact that I have already participated in the entire process (short of bottling) and I THINK I have a general grasp on the labors involved.

I thoroughly enjoyed the reading you guys have provided and and tend to agree with ODaniel's philosophy of "If you know you're serious about brewing, why bother starting with something you know you'll soon outgrow?" That's what I want to do is be serious. Sure the expense is greater, but as guidlined by Spage, the ends justify the means economically and I'll also have a truly original flavor profile as opposed to making a beer that 20,000 of us have already had and it isn't altogether unique. Heck, I'd throw old rusty roofing nails in the batch if I thought I could benfit the originality. I want to be refreshingly different, and if going with AG means that I can have even the slightest advantage of control over a unique beer, then perhaps it's the decision for me. I also value the fact that horrible beer is "unique"... that's a given, it's uniquely terrible. This forum is a great foundation to hopefully help me prevent that.

Thank you all for your responses, keep 'em coming... this is the info that you can't find in tutorials and video clips.

Already excited,

- Scary

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Old 05-02-2009, 04:59 AM   #10
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I guess for me brewing beer is about a couple of things:

1. Microbrew beers are expensive. The ones I like are usually anywhere from $10-$17 a six or four pack. So I like to save money.
2. Homebrewing is actually fun for me. I usually have friend come over and help out. We brew beer and shoot the ****. Fun fun.

I have looked into all grain brewing. And while it may produce better flavored beers, the time investment just seems too much for me to justify. Time is money, and I could be doing other things with the time I invest with AG. So for me I stick to extract because while it is more expensive than AG, I still save money over buying beer at the store.



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