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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > Extract vs. all grain
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Old 07-07-2011, 10:40 AM   #1
jlestos
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Default Extract vs. all grain

Sorry if this is a repost (it certainly must be...) but being new to the brewing life, I have a few questions about the differences as far as taste is concerned between extract brewing and all grain. Obviously it's an entirely different brewing session, I do understand that. But, how different is the taste between an extract and an all grain beer? I ask because I have boatloads of ideas about beers that extract kits don't exist for, so I look at them as a base for what I should be trying to do; and then adding what I want.
Even though making my own all grain kit isn't all that expensive as opposed to buying one (from what I gather in How to Brew), I just simply can't afford it right now if I want to try to brew 3 or more batches a month. Buying it piecemeal works to an extent, but then I get overly excited. So, my big question other than the one previously posted is, is it worth cutting back and losing the brewing experience to buy the all grain equipment? and is it worth trying my own recipes before I have complete control of my gear (grinding my own grains, etc.)?


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Old 07-07-2011, 10:59 AM   #2
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Have you taken into account how much cheaper it is to by grain than extract? If you're looking to brew 3 times a month you should definitely invest in bulk base grain, and at that point you'll end up paying less than half as much for your grain as you would for extract. At that rate it should only take 2 or 3 months to pay off the extra AG equipment.


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Old 07-07-2011, 11:32 AM   #3
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I think people tend to equate AG to a better tasting brew, but from what I've read, that isn't really true. The fact is that most people make many additional process changes when going to AG that account for a huge part of the flavor difference (e.g., full boils, better wort cooling, controlling fermentation temperatures, etc.).

AG does afford you the option of controlling more variables, and as slowbie pointed out, tends to be cheaper (discounting equipment costs).
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Old 07-07-2011, 11:41 AM   #4
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I've read stories on here where AG'rs make an extract brew when they don't have time for AG,but want to keep up their pipeline. Some have said they see little difference in extract vs the average AG when done well. So it's a matter of choice. How much time do you wanna spend?
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Old 07-07-2011, 11:49 AM   #5
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Brewing AG doesn't necessarily mean you'll brew better beer. If you move from extract to AG and still aren't pitching enough yeast, keeping proper fermentation temperatures, or using good sanitation practices, your beer will still suck.

There's also more variables with AG, so if you don't have a process down already, you're opening up a whole slew of potential problems.

That said, if you're able to do it "correctly," brewing AG will give you an entirely new dimension of variables to control in the brewing process, and some pretty good beer as well.
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Old 07-07-2011, 12:11 PM   #6
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Have you considered doing partial/mini-mashes? I moved from extract brewing to partial mash, and I really only needed to add 1 piece of equipment--a bag big enough to put up to 5-6 pounds of grain in when I mash. It allows you a little more flexibility of using what you want for a recipe, but doesn't require all the equipment. To make up for the fewer amount of grains, I just use some DME after mashing the grains to bring the sugar content up. I do plan to move to AG one day, but I don't have the money to invest in the bigger pot, outdoor burner, and other equipment needed.

Personally, I noticed a difference moving towards partial mashes. My beers seem to have an almost fresher taste to them. Maybe it is just because I am doing full boils for a much longer time than I would with just extract or that I am taking more steps to brew as extract brewing took maybe 2 hours and now its easily a 4 hour endeavor (not a bad thing, just noting that it takes longer). Right now I enjoy doing the middle of the road brewing where I am going outside the box of extract somewhat, having a little more control over the flavor of the beer, but not quite making move/commitment to AG brewing. Plus, its just me and occasionally my dad drinking my beer, so I am only brewing once every one to two months.
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Old 07-07-2011, 12:48 PM   #7
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AG'rs enjoy economy of scale. Buying bulk, making bulk, and a streamlined production process.
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Old 07-07-2011, 01:02 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ace_Club View Post
I think people tend to equate AG to a better tasting brew, but from what I've read, that isn't really true. The fact is that most people make many additional process changes when going to AG that account for a huge part of the flavor difference (e.g., full boils, better wort cooling, controlling fermentation temperatures, etc.).

AG does afford you the option of controlling more variables, and as slowbie pointed out, tends to be cheaper (discounting equipment costs).
+1

With the rest of your process being identical, I think you'd notice little difference between the two (or three if you include partial mashing) methods.

That said, mashing gives you more control and allows you to use grains that you can't use in an extract batch. As others have also mentioned all grain is cheaper, especially when you buy your grain in bulk.
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Old 07-07-2011, 01:05 PM   #9
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Excellent beer can be made with either method. Steeping, partial mash and mini-mash can add a lot of depth to extract brews. The biggest factor in quality is controlling your process; yeast handling, fermentation temp, sanitation ,etc. If your brewing practices are sound it's impossible to tell the difference. After that it's a matter of economics, bulk grain is way cheaper than DME or LME. That's what made me jump to AG. I don't mind the extra time involved mashing grains.
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Old 07-07-2011, 01:24 PM   #10
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Sweet!



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