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Old 04-20-2014, 08:05 PM   #1
Mar 2014
Posts: 23
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I wish to begin all grain brewing shortly.

I am very lost when it comes to the different varieties of base and specialty grain, and how I would go about learning the differences between the various grains, the ratios of combinations of these grains, the interactions of these grains with different hops, the interaction of these grains with different yeasts, etc.

It is nice to see that there will be so many combinations, but I'm not even sure of how to approach this.

Given that I have 8 carboys, I could theoretically do some hard core experiments. For example, from How to Brew, there are 4 base grains/malts: lager, pale ale, wheat, and rye. Thus I could do 4 batches using 100% of a single base malt. I could then do 50% mixes of Lager/Pale, Lager/Wheat, Lager/Rye, Pale/Wheat, Pale/Rye, Wheat/Rye. I could then do 25/75 mixes of the above and vice versa.

Ok that sounds way fun, but which yeast and hops would I chose for this? I would obviously want to use the same yeast and hops for this tasting experiment so I could learn the grains. But I think I would want to chose a yeast/hops that is rather shy and wouldn't radically alter the taste of the yeast.

Now base malts would be easier to learn since there is only 4 of them and thus 6 ways to combine them at 50% ratios, or 12 ways at 25/75% ratios.

However, introducing the non-base grains increases the number of combinations dramatically. I won't even begin to calculate how many batches it would take to learn how these specialty grains interact with the base grains at which ratios.

How does a beginner to All Grain learn the grains!?

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Old 04-20-2014, 08:18 PM   #2
Goolsbymd's Avatar
Mar 2014
Chesapeake, VA
Posts: 146
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You could experiment with 1 gallon batches. I copied this idea but to get more familiar i bought a 12er of bud light(yea i know) and 12 different hops. I dropped in a few pellets into each one, recapped and let them sit for 4 days then tasted each one to see how they compared to me.
Bottled: Honey paw brown ale
Kegged: Raging Irish Red, American Brown Ale
On Deck: Some kind if IPA

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Old 04-20-2014, 08:19 PM   #3
May 2012
Portland, OR
Posts: 1,278
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You might be overthinking a bit. And you probably don't want to have to get through 60 gallons of 'experiment' beer, especially funky things like all-rye. Not that it couldn't be made well, but it's very far outside the mainstream. I'd suggest you do some styles you like, but add small amounts of the grains you're interested in -- add 2 lb of rye to an IPA, which is otherwise just 2-row and some crystal. Or try a pale that's half wheat and the same recipe that's all barley.

Also, do you mean pilsner malt when you say lager? There are also a whole bunch of other base malts to play with, e.g., Munich, Vienna, Maris Otter, Golden Promise.... But I'd keep the super experimental batches to 1 gal.
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Old 04-20-2014, 10:10 PM   #4
Jun 2009
Lopez Island, WA
Posts: 3,705
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When I think of base grains, I think of:
Maris Otter
2 Row
Munich (10L not 20L)
Golden Promise

You could do a 100% malted wheat or rye beer but the mash would be difficult.

You could do a bunch of SMASHs. But if bit were me, I'd pick a beer from a style that emphases each of the base malts:
Scottish: Golden Promise
Bitter: Maris Otter
APA: 2 Row or Pale
Pilsner: Pilsen
Vienna: Vienna
Marzen/Bock: Munich

A Hefe is a good 50-50 Pilsen-Wheat beer.
Today I listened to a woman explaining to her young daughter that Sully is not a sequel to Monsters Inc.

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Old 04-20-2014, 10:29 PM   #5
ArizonaGoalie's Avatar
Oct 2012
San Diego, California
Posts: 315
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You are most definitely over thinking it. Beer is simple, hence why I can brew it. I mastered extract then moved to all grain with great results.

First, what beers did you love that you did extract? Why not try to replicate them or make them better using all grain?

Next, what about an awesome clone with your own twist? I've been enamored with one particular brewery's milk stout, so I set out to duplicate it all grain.

A lot of this depends on where you get your grains and what style of beer you want to brew. Start with a couple batches, attempting to make some beer you will like and your friends will say 'wow' to.

There are GREAT recipes on this site, as well as

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Old 04-21-2014, 12:17 AM   #6
Dec 2012
Posts: 199
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Most homebrew stores allow you to chew on some grain to get an idea. I know a lot of people do smash (single malt and single hop) recipes to get to know base malts, hops and yeast strains.

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Old 04-21-2014, 12:36 AM   #7
divrguy's Avatar
Dec 2011
, California
Posts: 1,274
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A book! Designing great beers! Best there is really to get you started IMO
Dive Often! Play Hard and Have a homeBrew!

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Old 04-21-2014, 12:38 AM   #8
Dec 2012
Posts: 199
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Agreed on that book! I love it! But I have to admit in more hands in and like to test flavors myself because one persons description of it could be a little different than your own tastes

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Old 04-21-2014, 12:57 AM   #9
Dec 2012
Salt Lake City, Utah
Posts: 762
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Experiment. it'll only cost you 12.00 for 10 lbs or so. I usually do a 9 lb of 2 row and 1 lb of crystal 10 for a simple beer. once you have this under your belt you can try different recipes and use software like brew target to get better at it!

two row is the base malt and youll just add to that, crystal 10 will give a light color with small sweetness and next time try crystal 70, it will be darker with more sweetness,

aafter 10 batches youll be an expert

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Old 04-21-2014, 01:41 AM   #10
TrubDog's Avatar
Oct 2011
Cle Elum, WA
Posts: 392
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SMASH - look it up!

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