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Old 02-25-2008, 12:32 PM   #1
T-SULLI
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Default Want to start with all grain...

Well this is my first post so I guess I should introduce myself. My name is Tim and I live in Southern California. I look forward to speaking and learning from all of you.

Ok down to business... lol. I am new to home brewing although it seems like the past month I have been obsessed with wanting to get started. I have not done anything but sit at the computer and look up recipes, starter guides, techniques, and and of course all of the terminology.

After all of my searching I find myself wanting to jump directly into all grain brewing. Is that how any of you guys started? I think the reason for this is because I have always wanted to make my very own flavors of beer as im sure all of you take pride in. In order to do that and make it completely my own I would need to make my beer from scratch. Other wise I feel like I would be cheating.

Any way my question is do you guys think this may be an option? Or from you experience do you think I would be getting in way over my head? I look forward to hearing from all of you...

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Old 02-25-2008, 12:43 PM   #2
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Welcome to HBT!

Of course you can start with all-grain brewing, and I know that some of the guys around here have done that. I started much more slowly, with extract and steeping grains, then went to a partial mash system, then all-grain. That's because I'm kind of a slow learner, I guess!

I think whichever way you start will be fine. The main thing is to learn processes, especially relating to sanitation and temperature. If you're comfortable with that, then you are way ahead of where I was! I needed the opportunity to concentrate on the boil and hops and fermentation before I felt comfortable with all-grain.

Some very good brewers never go to all-grain, because either they don't feel the need, or maybe because of space limitations, so it's not necessarily a progression for everyone. Some very good brews have been made with extract, and I enjoyed them when I made them.

Howtobrew.com is a great resource for brewing (It's a free online version of my favorite brewing book) and so is our wiki (link above). Good luck, and feel free to ask questions.

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Old 02-25-2008, 01:04 PM   #3
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You certianly can start that way, I have a friend that did. It's and awful to to take in in one bite, but it can be done. I would definitely start by reading as much as youcould. I know you have been doing this, but a good read is John Palmer's How To Brew. If your going all grain right away, read that baby from start to finish. Meanwhile you can start assembling your equipment.

That's another thing. Assembling equipment may seem more daunting both financially and interms of the work involved, but again, it certainly can be done. I am impressed with your motivation! Feel free to ask any questions, someone here will be able to answer. And good luck, and have fun!

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Old 02-25-2008, 01:19 PM   #4
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Where are you at? Maybe there's a brewer nearby that can help out with your first AG day.

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Old 02-25-2008, 01:39 PM   #5
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I did only one extract batch before going straight into all grain. The amount of difficulty that you'll have will greatly depend on a lot of factors, but the best thing I did was that I knew Palmer's book inside and out before diving in.

The advice I can give is first know the entire process inside and out. Second, if you can find someone to show you then that is the best way to go. Third, buy 10 gallon coolers and batch sparge (unless you are limited on space). In hindsight I should have done it this way. First off, it is less labor intensive (you have to continuously pour water in a fly sparge) and secondly I struggle with high gravity brews because I am seriously limited by the room in the cooler.

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Old 02-25-2008, 02:16 PM   #6
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Go for it man jump right in to all grain, and once you are comfortable brewing get a copy of extreme brewing by randy mosher, you sound like the kind of guy who is motivated to make some awesome outrageous beers.

I personally do all grain a little, but still brew with quite a bit of extract, thus far this year I have made about 80 gallons of beer only half of which was all grain. There is nothing wrong with using extract and it is a huge time and space saver.

The only benefit to going extract before all grain is that you get to work out your fermentation cooling and sanitization issues. You might brew your first beer all grain and think that the problem comes from the way you mash or sparge when in fact it comes from improperly cooling or improperly sanitizing or improperly transferring your beer.

My 3rd ever all grain batch was inadvertently oxidized after fermentation when transferring to secondary. I thought it had something to do with the way I mashed my grains and couldn't see proverbial the forest for the trees. I knew what oxidation tasted like and have tasted it before, but in this situation I had mental blinders on and it wasn't until a fellow brewer tasted it and told me it was oxidation that I realized it wasn't the mash, but my being lazy while transferring to secondary.

Starting with extract will allow you to perfect these techniques before going on and trying other new techniques.

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Old 02-25-2008, 02:50 PM   #7
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I've been thinking about giving AG a try, but now that I'm digging into How to Brew, I'm starting to think against it...water reports, temp control to within 2-3 degrees, pH levels...this seems unfortunately complex, especially since I filter my water, so a water report from the utility won't tell me anything about the water I use to brew.

My first reading of a How To all grain site seemed pretty basic...add 160 degree water to the grain, let it sit, drain, sparge with 170 degree water, boil wort, add hops, etc.

Is it really as simple as the second example, or is it oversimplified to give an introduction? I don't want to buy a digital thermometer just to be able to measure my temp to within 1 degree instead of about 5. I wouldn't even know how to change it by a degree or two, anyway. Adjusting pH is pretty straightforward, and testing that is no big deal.

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Old 02-25-2008, 03:21 PM   #8
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i'm going to be moving up to AG in the next couple of weeks, just need to get a bigger cooler (currently have a 2gallon MLT for partial mashes). i went the individual steps: extract -> steep+extract -> partial mash. i think that was best for me, enabled me to learn a few steps at a time instead of everything in one go!

the only thing i would say is plan from the start for where you want to end up - if you know you'll be going AG at some point, then make sure when you get equipment that it won't be obsolete at a later stage. i've made a few purchases (boil pot, MLT) that were a wee bit short sighted. the boil pot was the worst thing - the MLT was only $10.

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Old 02-25-2008, 03:29 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonshae
I've been thinking about giving AG a try, but now that I'm digging into How to Brew, I'm starting to think against it...water reports, temp control to within 2-3 degrees, pH levels...this seems unfortunately complex, especially since I filter my water, so a water report from the utility won't tell me anything about the water I use to brew.

My first reading of a How To all grain site seemed pretty basic...add 160 degree water to the grain, let it sit, drain, sparge with 170 degree water, boil wort, add hops, etc.

Is it really as simple as the second example, or is it oversimplified to give an introduction? I don't want to buy a digital thermometer just to be able to measure my temp to within 1 degree instead of about 5. I wouldn't even know how to change it by a degree or two, anyway. Adjusting pH is pretty straightforward, and testing that is no big deal.
Don't get bogged down by the details. I guess I should have mentioned that. It really isn't that hard to brew AG, even my first time I was nervous (ended up 'crushing' my grain in a Cuisinart! ALL OF IT) but it still came out fantastic. So my point it you just have to take a deep breath and remember "if one man can do it, another man can", say it with me....
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Old 02-25-2008, 03:44 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonshae
I've been thinking about giving AG a try, but now that I'm digging into How to Brew, I'm starting to think against it...water reports, temp control to within 2-3 degrees, pH levels...this seems unfortunately complex, especially since I filter my water, so a water report from the utility won't tell me anything about the water I use to brew.

My first reading of a How To all grain site seemed pretty basic...add 160 degree water to the grain, let it sit, drain, sparge with 170 degree water, boil wort, add hops, etc.

Is it really as simple as the second example, or is it oversimplified to give an introduction? I don't want to buy a digital thermometer just to be able to measure my temp to within 1 degree instead of about 5. I wouldn't even know how to change it by a degree or two, anyway. Adjusting pH is pretty straightforward, and testing that is no big deal.
There are all kinds of equations and such on the internet to help you figure out the temperature thing. Get a cooler and keep the grain at 155 for an hour then drain very very simple. Just make sure you buy a good thermometer, they usually cost around $20.

With regards to the Ph 5 star makes a ph 5.2 buffer a tablespoon of this will remove most of the worrys about your Ph levels. I personally don't know very much about my water, and don't muck around with adding extra salts and such just a scoop of the 5.2 and it comes out very well almost every time.
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