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Old 08-02-2011, 05:15 AM   #1
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Default How much better do all grains do than LME?

Once again, new to the art of brewing. The obsession has started. But anyways, how much better are all grain brews vs. LME?

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Old 08-02-2011, 05:20 AM   #2
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It's more a matter of preference & opinion. A lot of brewers say the flavor, head retention, etc increase dramatically with all-grain, but others (like me...) are perfectly content with extract & partial-mash batches (and there's absolutely nothing wrong with either, by the way ). It's completely up to you if you want to make the jump already, but since you're a new brewer, I recommend getting some basic extract-only brews under your belt, make the move to partial mash, then consider if you're ready to hit the all-grain.

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Old 08-02-2011, 05:37 AM   #3
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You can make great beers with extract, but you can make MORE great beers using all grain. The biggest advantage to all grain over extract is you have more ingredient options to work with. If you are using extract you really only have specialty malts to play with. If you want to use malts like Munich, Vienna, 6-row, Maris Otter, Rye, Wheat, Pilsner, corn, rice... you need to be able to mash them aka all grain or partial mash. A partial mash isn't difficult and requires almost no extra equipment over extract. The next best advantage is you can control the fermentability of your beer better by adjusting the mash temprature. Want a dry crisp lager? Mash at a low temp. Want a full body beer? Mash at a higher temp. You don't get that degree of control with extract.

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Old 08-02-2011, 05:38 AM   #4
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I'm going to switch to BIAB for the cost savings alone.

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Old 08-02-2011, 06:21 AM   #5
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The best idea is to:

DO BOTH

I have recipes that can only be done AG, a bunch that can be either (depending how long a brew day SWMBO will allow) and sometimes grab an extract kit like if I'm going to a brew party at a friends place... Stay open to all kinds of brewing. Don't get locked in to one style and start getting an attitude about it. That would just make you bored and boring.

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Old 08-02-2011, 09:17 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shafferpilot View Post
The best idea is to:

DO BOTH

I have recipes that can only be done AG, a bunch that can be either (depending how long a brew day SWMBO will allow) and sometimes grab an extract kit like if I'm going to a brew party at a friends place... Stay open to all kinds of brewing. Don't get locked in to one style and start getting an attitude about it. That would just make you bored and boring.
This.

I started AG and have been ever since, but as time is getting limited, I'm definitely considering some extract and partial mash type batches to cut down on the brew day a bit.
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Old 08-02-2011, 09:43 AM   #7
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No shame in using extract. A great beer is a great beer regardless of whether the mash was performed at somebody's house in a plastic cooler or at a commercial food processing facility in a giant stainless vessel.

All grain means more fun and, as mentioned, control.

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Old 08-02-2011, 10:27 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scrambledegg81 View Post
It's more a matter of preference & opinion. A lot of brewers say the flavor, head retention, etc increase dramatically with all-grain, but others (like me...) are perfectly content with extract & partial-mash batches (and there's absolutely nothing wrong with either, by the way ). It's completely up to you if you want to make the jump already, but since you're a new brewer, I recommend getting some basic extract-only brews under your belt, make the move to partial mash, then consider if you're ready to hit the all-grain.
Or do I like did and say "screw it, I'm starting with all grain"!

IMO The source is always better. The "source" for DME, LME is GRAIN. All grain doesn't need to cost much to do. Most people have a good portion of the stuff already. My thought process is that if all grain is where a lot of people end up, then why not go there first. That being said I did a lot of research and reading before I jumped in.

I may be different than some because the process to me is what is intriguing. I get excited from basically taking nothing and turning it into something. Plus the smell of all grain reminds me of childhood on the farm.

I may try extract again (I did a Mr. Beer Kit once upon a time) once winter gets here as using the garden hose for my IC would not work. Although I have an idea for a closed system that would allow me to do AG all year round without concern.

You need to do what fits your budget, time, and space.
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Old 08-02-2011, 03:33 PM   #9
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Some brewers have even done side-by-side EXTRACT vs. ALL GRAIN batch comparisons, and the latest prevailing experimental evidence seems to suggest that there isn't much difference. More than one side-by-side comparison I saw concluded that the MYTH behind EXTRACT being inferior to ALL GRAIN comes from a few basic facts:

#1: ALL GRAIN brewers tend to use fresher ingredients. Most kits that EXTRACT brewers buy tend to be in hobby shops or LHBS shops that do not turn over these products as quickly as ideal. There is no telling how old the LME in any given kit is, while most grain is fresh and is certainly freshly milled and freshly mashed on brew day.

#2: ALL GRAIN brewers tend to conduct a more seemless brewing process. Though they exist, there are very few EXTRACT brewers with 1+ years of experience. Through they exist, there are very few ALL GRAIN brewers with less than a few batches experience. So your average AG brewer tends to have the process down pact, while your average EXTRACT brewer is still learning and making mistakes. Find a newbie brewer and have him whip up an AG batch, and I'll whip up an EXTRACT batch, and mine WILL be better.

#3: AND THIS IS A BIG ONE: The average ALL GRAIN brewer uses advanced techniques that the average EXTRACT brewer just does not. Things like oxygen infussion into wort pre-fermentation, optimizing their water profile - especially getting a 5.2-5.6 PH and minimizing chlorine, full-volume boils, and the BIGGIE - TEMPERATURE CONTROLLED FERMENTATION. Practicing these advanced techniques, in particular controlling fermentation temps, and you can make an extract batch that rivals an AG batch. It's just the average EXTRACT brewer has already moved on to AG by the time they start doing these things. You are really GETTING SERIOUS by the time you have a temperature controlled cooler or freezer in your living room, and very few people get serious and stick with EXTRACT.

Anyway, hope that helps. It's just by the time you get to where you REALLY know how to brew, most people are ready to take on AG brewing, so you think you are making better brews jsut due to the ingredients, but you leave all of the other factors out.

It's kinda like saying that Bobby Flay couldn't make a world-class chili if you gave him tomatoes in a can. It's mainly the knowledge and skill of the BREWER that determines the quality of the beer, not whether you pre-mash the malt or do it on brew day.

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Old 08-02-2011, 03:44 PM   #10
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Well said topher. Fresh ingredients & skill/experience will make a good beer,no matter what is used. Idk if I'll ever go AG,but you never know. AG is not the be all,end all of brewing to me. Either one can make a disaster. Either one can be a competition winner. When it comes to brewing,knowledge is power. I'm just having a lot of fun exploring my "recombinant extract" theory for the time being. And isn't that what we're all here for?
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