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Old 05-12-2010, 09:06 PM   #1
Mar 2010
Posts: 12

I am writing this in response to those brewers new to the game who seem terrified of doing AG.

Let me first disclose that I've never done an extract batch, and jumped in the deep end with AG, at the insistence of a fellow brewer.

Extract batches seem like a very natural jumping off point, and I can't argue that you'll learn some of the tips and tricks with the aid of knowing that you at least haven't screwed the pooch on the mashing. That being said, I get the sense that people have the belief that AG is only for the experts, and shouldn't be attempted until you've made many many extract batches. I know that when I first started researching brewing, AG certainly seemed like the big leagues while extract brewing was the minors. The jargon with AG is more intense, and the complication just seems way out there. Some of this is true, but I'm here to tell you that with just a little bit more work and patience, AG is not nearly the beast you probably think it is.

I'm not saying that AG is easy, by any means, I just don't think the disparity in difficulty is as large as newbs may think it is. The number one piece of advice i've taken from this forum is to relax. Let me repeat that again, relax. I've made around 8 batches at this point, and trust me, and the rest of us, it is extremely difficult to really screw up a batch. I read countless threads about fermentation not starting, worries about color, and other little peccadilloes that instead of inciting panic, should be viewed as the natural variance of brewing. This isn't to say you shouldn't bring your questions to the forum, that's what it is here for. Nevertheless, don't start rocking in the corner over the fact that your OG was supposed to be 1.056 and you calculated 1.053. If you do miss and OG, think about your process, and consider why you might have missed it. Then your next brew will be much more informed. Nobody should expect their first couple of brews to be perfect, that just a set up for disappointment. I got to my 3rd, before I really became confident, which is natural for a new hobby. You wouldn't expect a guy who picks up golf clubs for the first time at age 25 to be a scratch golfer?

Remember, this is supposed to be a hobby, not a prison sentence. Now to go back to my original point: I really think that if people would relax just a bit, they'd be much more likely to jump into AG brewing. I've watched a guy do an extract batch, and I gotta tell you, AG is just more FUN. That's right, it's FUN. I know that may be hard for some of you to believe, but having that much control over your beer is just a good feeling.

Sure, AG may take a bit more equipment (I personally use the coleman cooler mash tun) but you probably don't need all that you think you need. If you want to make that jump, DO IT! You'll thank me later. In the end my message is simple, and certainly not an original one, RDWHAHB!
The Yarbrewery: Est. 2009

Primary 1: Going Sorta Rogue (RDGA clone)
Primary 2: StarSan
Bottled: Bitterwater 420 (Sweetwater 420 clone variation with extra hops), Happy Hopidays (Spiced Holiday IPA), Belgian Power T (Belgian Strong)

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Old 05-12-2010, 09:11 PM   #2
Half-fast Prattlarian
GilaMinumBeer's Avatar
Jan 2008
Posts: 59,767
Liked 7898 Times on 6413 Posts

Ohh be afraid. Be VERY afraid. But also know that the best way to conquor your fears is to face them.

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Old 05-12-2010, 09:17 PM   #3
Jan 2009
Hamlin, NY
Posts: 450
Liked 3 Times on 3 Posts

I went AG after a year of extract. I am not looking back. I just didn't feel like to make the jump. It is so easy.


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Old 05-12-2010, 09:28 PM   #4
doctorRobert's Avatar
Apr 2010
Sharon, MA
Posts: 1,005
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I just started brewing with extract a while ago, did a partial mash last weekend, if the beers turn out great I'll stick with the partial mashes for a while. I want to understand the chemistry more a little bit before I dive into all grain.

I know I could do all grain, just by following directions, but I want to understand it first. At least a decent understanding, I know I'll under learn more by doing.

Also need to prove to SWMBO that I can brew quality beer before I spend more on this "hoppy" - after all i convinced her this would save us money..... oops
Yo, What's Wrong With The Beer We Got? I Mean the Beer we got drank pretty Good Don't It? I Ain't Never Heard nobody complain about the beer we have..... It Drank Pretty Good. Budweiser...What's the name of some of them other beers ?

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Old 05-12-2010, 09:29 PM   #5
Feb 2010
Posts: 296

I'm afraid............ will you hold my hand. lol..

I want to go all out but with a move coming up and really not knowing enough will keep me in the extract arena for a bit. But I'm learning here everyday

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Old 05-12-2010, 09:59 PM   #6
Jan 2010
Posts: 109
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I found i was less worried about bad batches with all grain... Local lhbs with good prices was ~$40/5 gal batch vs 20/batch ag. Only took me one batch to go all grain via Brew in a bag.... I will teach all my new brewer friends this method. Much less painful on the wallet if you do screw up, and really it is hard to make undrinkable beer. Early problems likely will be the same with extract or BIAB. Sanitation or *insert your screwup here* mostly post boil.

Good recipe (easy to find)
Temp control (little harder, but still cheap n easy)
two pots. so easy a cave man can do it.

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Old 05-13-2010, 01:24 PM   #7
May 2010
Posts: 41

I have done partial mashes with just one extract only because the LHBS said they don't carry wheat because they don't like wheat beers. But other than that I have followed deathbrewers method and the beers have turned out excellent so far.

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Old 05-13-2010, 02:07 PM   #8
Apr 2010
Posts: 106

I only started brewing 9 months ago, did two kits, followed by 6 extracts and I did my first AG in March. As you say the difference in difficulty is not insurmountable and the enjoyment you get from AG brewing is great. However I would say that there is nothing wrong with extract brewing (I have made some great beers with extract) and in fact since March I have been switching between extract and all Grain, it just depends how much time I have for a brew.

As The hitchhikers guide says "DON'T PANIC"
Dublin, Ireland
Kegged - Session Stout, Cascade IPA
Bottled - ISO Standard Stout, Steam Punk California, Session Stout

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Old 05-13-2010, 02:36 PM   #9

Putting on my contrarian hat . . .

I think for many new brewers, there is great value in focusing not on equipment, mashing, sparging, etc and instead paying attention to where much of the real action is - making your yeast happy and healthy, controlling temps, sanitation. Obviously, you can focus on all of it right from the start, but for some of us, extract/steeping brewing really helped us get off to a good start by learning good brewing habits and practices.

Plus, extract brewing can produce some fine beers

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Old 05-13-2010, 02:38 PM   #10
Oct 2008
Parker, CO
Posts: 131
Liked 3 Times on 3 Posts

Couldn't agree more about this. In fact, I wrote a similar post a while ago 1st All Grain. That was easy...

For me (and I hope I don't get stoned here), I waited until I was confident that I wanted to continue this as a regular hobby. Once the novelty of it all wore off and I was convinced that I would do this for the long term, then I made the upgrade to AG. I've never looked back. So much better end product (IMO) and as the OP states, it is a lot more fun.
Ornery Cuss Brewing Co., Est. 2005
On Tap #1 - EdWort's Haus Pale Ale
On Tap #2 - Kölsch
Bottled: Raspberry Wheat
Kegged: Oatmeal Stout, Strawberry Blond
Primary: Cream Ale, Pumpkin Ale
Up next: Guinness Clone, Irish Red

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