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Old 03-11-2009, 06:50 AM   #1
treemind
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So get this... two extract batches in, my first brews are doing very well.
#1 is an 12 day old red ale, in secondary...
#2 (an IPA) freshly bubbling in primary only 48 hours in.

But this is the crazy part...
My wife calls me from her photography group tonight, turns out one of the guys in the group is a home brewer. I have known him a while but had no idea. So i talk to him on the phone and ask him some advice on a future extract 'barley wine recipe ideas', he says "oh, I have not extract brewed in a long while, i am an all grain brewer, but you are welcome to come join me on my next batch this coming weekend to learn the ropes on all grain brewing". Turns out he has been all grain brewing for 7 years now!

So I am just a noob who 'LOVES' this hobby... My question is this...

How long did it take you 'ALL GRAIN' brewers to go from simple extract to full on ALL GRAIN? also what are the investments are involved in ALL GRAIN brewing? Do you think it takes a good few years into extract brewing before you can transition? Or is it something a noob could pick up by hanging out with the right people who have this stuff down?

This feels like a very cool oppertunity to me to just 'coincidentally' hook up with someone that has been deeply involved with the passion for many years!

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Old 03-11-2009, 07:05 AM   #2
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check out the "All-Grain and Partial Mash" threads on this forum.

In short, it's not about experience; it's about process......you can make a GREAT beer using the extract technique, and CRAPPY beer using the all-grain technique...

as for me - I did extract for about a year, and did a ton of reading (on here, on hometobrew.com) and then built an MLT and HLT.

The biggest investments you have for all-grain are a mash-lauter tun, a big enough pot to boil ~6.5+ gallons of wort, and a wort chiller. You can get by without a hot liquor tun (all though I will admit it's a PITA!)

keep reading on here and asking questions --- and sooner or later Revvy will post his thoughts about extract v. all-grain; a good read

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Old 03-11-2009, 02:15 PM   #3
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I did many extract brews. I had always wanted to do AG, but still felt that there were things in my process that I needed work on, and was afraid of adding more complexity. Plus, there is the question of the extra equipment.

Well, there still are things in my process that need tweaking, but this past weekend I finally did my first AG batch and the AG part was not hard at all. Just do some reading, until you understand the process and go for it.

Equipment-wise you will need:

Kettle large enough to handle the whole amount of wort (7 gallons is suffucient for most 5 gallon batches, excepting maybe some real big beers if I am not mistaken)

Mash Tun (plastic picnic cooler with a manifold and spigot, instructions are in the forums and online).

And a big burner. I recommend buying a turkey fryer on sale and you will get the kettle and burner in one fel swoop. Or you can spend more and get a kettle designed for larger batches AND a turkey fryer and have a second kettle for sparge water, etc.

You can also buy a grain crusher, but this is not necessary if you purchase your grain from the local Homebrew Supply store. They will generally crush it for you. But if you buy grain in bulk, it's better to have one and crush it fresh, because it can go stale much quicker once it's crushed.
Also, you can actually do AG on the stovetop if you really want. It's not what most around here do, but it is an option to try if you don't want to spend big bucks.

The other answer you are asking for is: There is no reason to wait to go to AG! I know a couple of people who have NEVER done Extract.

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Old 03-11-2009, 02:23 PM   #4
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That's great that you can watch an experienced all grain brewer. You pick up a lot of tips and tricks you don't read about. Also, make sure you read How To Brew. More than once. It is full of great info.

Like AZ_IPA said, its more about your process. I brewed exactly one extract batch and 2 partial mashes before i started doing all grain. I have had good results with my All grain batches because I have a very structured process and I plan my brew day well. I generally hit all my temps but I have plans in case I don't. All grain brewing really isn't as difficult as some people make it seem. You just need to be more attentive to the numbers (temps, volumes, times, etc).

You can have great successes with either method though. So far 2 beers I've received the most positive feedback for are a partial mash IPA and an all grain oatmeal stout.

As for the cost. If you have at least an 8 gallon pot that should be fine for 5 gallon batches. If not you can pick one up online for ~$60. The easiest mash/lauter tun is the cooler conversion. I picked up a 10 gallon coleman beverage cooler off ebay for $40 shipped, with another $20 to build the manifold + spigot. So really you can step into all grain for a little over $100.

Also, make sure you have a good thermometer. It doesn't matter if its analog or digital, as long as its accurate.

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Old 03-11-2009, 03:53 PM   #5
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Sorry to jump the thread, but I've been contemplating AG, one thing that stops me is the time. With job, other hobbies and young kids with all their activities, I have brief windows of opportunity to brew. Doing extract, I find that I generally kill off the bulk of a morning between the cleaning/sanitizing and other prep, the actual brewing, cooling, and getting it into the fermenter and then the clean up. I fear that AG will add so much more time that I will have less opportunity to brew.

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Old 03-11-2009, 04:25 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BruDaddy View Post
Sorry to jump the thread, but I've been contemplating AG, one thing that stops me is the time. With job, other hobbies and young kids with all their activities, I have brief windows of opportunity to brew. Doing extract, I find that I generally kill off the bulk of a morning between the cleaning/sanitizing and other prep, the actual brewing, cooling, and getting it into the fermenter and then the clean up. I fear that AG will add so much more time that I will have less opportunity to brew.

You will eventually get into a rhythm that will streamline your process. You can weigh and crush grains while heating strike water, get hops ready while sparging, clean mash equipment while boiling, etc..... Certain equipment helps, too. When I was using a cooler and turkey fryer, a brewing session took about six hours start to finish, including cleanup. Once I built my brewstand, I cut that time down to 4 hours, 5 at the most.


OP, you can start AG anytime you want. Don't let anybody tell you that you need to do extract for any amount of time or that you need to do partial mashes first, etc..... Just do some research, learn from your friend, assemble your equipment, and you'll have a blast!
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Old 03-11-2009, 04:28 PM   #7
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I did 2 or 3 extract batches, skipped past partial mash, and went into AG. I have made prolly 20 or 30 AG batches and I still don't know sh!t about brewing beer the "right" way.

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Old 03-11-2009, 04:46 PM   #8
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2 extract, 1 PM, then jumped to AG

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Old 03-11-2009, 04:49 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by BruDaddy View Post
Sorry to jump the thread, but I've been contemplating AG, one thing that stops me is the time. With job, other hobbies and young kids with all their activities, I have brief windows of opportunity to brew. Doing extract, I find that I generally kill off the bulk of a morning between the cleaning/sanitizing and other prep, the actual brewing, cooling, and getting it into the fermenter and then the clean up. I fear that AG will add so much more time that I will have less opportunity to brew.
I hear ya! As with the above advice, you can split a brew into two days if you want to. Mash on day one, then boil and pitch on day 2. just have a cold place to keep the wort and seal well.

And preparation is one key. Study up on it, write a procedure list, follow list. Makes things much easier. You'll get better and faster with practice and a few nice upgrades (Spigots, etc.)

Oh, a Chiller is a nice option that can improve your beer and make your brewing go faster. There are 2 main types, IC and CFC. an IC is just a coil of copper tubing you run cold water through. A CFC is the same but with an outer layer of garden hose. Wort flows through the inner tube, cold water runs opposite direction inside garden hose. Very efficient, but a bit more money to build or buy.
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Old 03-11-2009, 05:00 PM   #10
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Thanks for all the input everyone! There is a lot to learn!


I guess the most exciting part is that no matter how much i read up, I am much more of a learn by watching type of person. So I plan on checking this process out in person a few times to see what it is all about.

So far the extract brewing is a total blast... maybe that is all i need. Who knows.

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