All Grain - why not?

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badmajon

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I spent about $50 on stuff for my AG setup which I would not have spent if I went extract. Really, I made a mash tun out of a 20 dollar cooler and $30 on parts from home depot. I don't see why everyone doesn't do AG and why the extract side of the hobby exists at all.

And the grains are so much cheaper than buying tons of extract! It's not really hard either, just have some DME on hand in case you get low efficiency.

Anyway, just something to think about.
 

BendBrewer

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I think I calculated the cost difference being about 5 bucks for a 5 gallon batch.

It's not the cost or the difficulty that keeps some people doing PM's and Extract brews. They brew good beer with those methods and it works for them. Space and time are other concerns.

That being said, I do AG brews and will be trying to 'convert' a stepson tomorrow as we will be brewing a batch together for the first time and he'll learn all about the mashing process.
 

Morkin

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Extract is a great way to get new people into the hobby. It's especially helpful if you don't have a propane burner or a brewpot that can handle a full boil. I know many people who do extract in a 3 gallon pot on their kitchen stove, put in carboy, and then add water to get to 5 gallons. You couldn't do that if you didn't have all the equipment.

But I do agree that if you are serious with homebrew, you will be happy with all grain. I certainly never looked back after making the switch....
 

jaobrien6

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I recently switched to AG, and just like the process better. To me it's kinda like making pancakes from scratch vs. a box. You can make perfectly good pancakes from a box, but if you have a good recipe, there's just something that feels right about making them from scratch.

However it does require more equipment and does take a lot more time on brew day. There's just no way you can get around those two things. It can also make it harder to recreate a beer you made and liked, because there are a lot more variables in the equation now. You really have to have your process under control to reproduce the same product.
 

Captain_Bigelow

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Extract good for beginners and also is a lot quicker. My AG sessions are about 1.5 to 2 hours longer than when I used to do extract.
 

likwidbliss

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I have two recipes that I created using extract. I converted it to all grain with software and it is nearly identical to the extract version. The AG version tastes crisper that the extract version. It could be me, but I like AG better. I like to create.
 

BigEd

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I don't see why everyone doesn't do AG and why the extract side of the hobby exists at all.
All-grain brewing is not for everyone. I switched to AG twenty years ago and just would not consider brewing an extract beer anymore. However, there are lots of folks who are content with their extract brews and do not want to or cannot spare the extra time required for AG brewing. The need for extra equipment, space and work can also be factors but the time issue is the one I have heard the most. Hey, I don't understand why anybody would buy a jar of spaghetti sauce instead of making it from scratch but the supermarkets are loaded with the stuff. Whatever works. :mug:
 
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Limitations -- physical and/or time -- can certainly keep people enjoying extract and PM brewing.

Some people enjoy brewing without going to that next level of complexity. It's not good, it's not bad, it's just their preference. For every happy AG brewer there's going to be somebody who takes the same approach of, "OMG for $30 you could also be..." for that next step into the AG/brewing process.
 

weirdboy

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In my experience, AG brewing is pretty time consuming compared to extract, and there's more logistics involved. I still do extract batches on occasion; it's pretty easy for me to cook up a spur of the moment extract batch on a weeknight, whereas I have to plan a bit more for AG stuff.

Plus, you either need to do some lifting or get a pump, so for some people that can be tough.
 

mr_bell

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For me personally it's the time primarily. A wife, 2 kids, active within the community, exercise, and a busy career leaves me with very little free time. Had I gotten into this in my 20's (I'm 41), knowing myself I would have gone all grain right away and possibly even considered a career in the brewing industry.

As it is, I don't even brew (extract) as often as I would like. Still, I do have intentions of getting to all-grain one day, just not the right time now.
 

ekranzusch

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Sometimes, I do extract when I don't want to sit out in the garage in the middle of winter and freeze :)

That said, AG > Extract.
 

Got Trub?

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I spent about $50 on stuff for my AG setup which I would not have spent if I went extract. Really, I made a mash tun out of a 20 dollar cooler and $30 on parts from home depot. I don't see why everyone doesn't do AG and why the extract side of the hobby exists at all.

And the grains are so much cheaper than buying tons of extract! It's not really hard either, just have some DME on hand in case you get low efficiency.

Anyway, just something to think about.
You left out the 10g pot, cajun cooker and the wort chiller. Oh and a refractometer is great too. Also a pump so you don't have to lift all that wort and then a stand with a HERMS system that is automated. Or maybe an electric set-up...

Its an addiction and the $$$ soon add up ;)

GT
 

dracus

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What exactly do you have to lift for all grain.

I put my mash tun on a table, counter or chair. I ladle the water in with a 1gallon lexan food grade pitcher. I dip it right out of the pot sitting on the burner.

I drain the wort right into the boil kettle which is sitting on the ground in front of the table. The only lifting I have is picking the kettle up which at this point has about 2-3gallons of wort. Its only 18inches or so up to the burner. This is usually fairly easy. If I know I'm brewing alone then I do the mash on a higher surface, and drain it right into the kettle sitting on burner.

I put the boil kettle on while I'm doing the batch sparge, I drain the second runnings into a different container which I then add to the kettle which is already heating up. No pumps or heavy lifting really. Other than the fermenter at the end, which is the same either way extract or ag.

I will say, though doing a extract on the stove is a lot quicker than doing an all grain. I do think that all grains are well worth the extra work though.
 

bullinachinashop

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As a hobby people will always have different levels of interest.

For most people this is a hobby and they are perfectly happy grabbing a kit for a weekend brew with a friend or two.

They have fun brewing and easily make good beer. A nice hobby with very little planning, prep, equipment or thinking involved.

On the other end of the spectrum, people can jump in the deep end.

This is great for others and can lead to alot more time, equipment, planning, shopping, storage, etc.

Neither is right or wrong, just what works for you.

That being said, I've been treading water for a while!;)

Bull
 

BeerJorge

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I'm perfectly OK with brewing extract... I've brewed better beer than some all-grain brewers in my area and I just don't have an extra couple hours to put into all-grain brewing...
 

Bigeb

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I've just started out and from a noobie's perspective, extract brewing is a lot less complex or intimidating. My preference is to make sure I get a solid understanding of the brewing process and all the associated nuances (sanitation, hot break, cold break, yeast, etc.) prior to AG brewing.

Everyone on the forum says it's essentially impossible to kill a brew but I prefer my end results to be what I wanted not what it turned out to be. I think getting the basics down helps a new brewer build confidence and reliable abilities.
 

Synovia

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I've just started out and from a noobie's perspective, extract brewing is a lot less complex or intimidating. My preference is to make sure I get a solid understanding of the brewing process and all the associated nuances (sanitation, hot break, cold break, yeast, etc.) prior to AG brewing.

Everyone on the forum says it's essentially impossible to kill a brew but I prefer my end results to be what I wanted not what it turned out to be. I think getting the basics down helps a new brewer build confidence and reliable abilities.
All grain isn't complex or intimidating at all. People just like to use big/strange words like "Mash tun" and "Sparge" while talking about it. Watch some videos on youtube.

The process is literally this: Pour hot water on grain. Wait. Drain water into pot. Beer.
 

BuonAnno

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Where are you getting extract?

I pay roughly $6 for 12lbs of grain. Where are you getting 9lbs of DME for $11?
Thats what I would liek to know! Cost was the main factor when switching to AG. I was paying $13 for 3.3 lbs of LME and $11 for 3 lbs of DME. Now I can get my 55 pounds of grain for what 7 lbs of extract would have cost me.

With that said, there is a guy at a local club that uses extract and a pound or two of specialty grains and his brews are some of the best I've ever tasted.
 

motobrewer

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time is the biggest for me. cleanup is 2nd, lol. lot more stuff to clean after an AG session (ok, maybe one more thing to clean)

i'm still over 5 hours on an AG brewday. with extract you could brew after work and still get to bed at a reasonable hour, which is pretty nice.
 

monty3777

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I brew both AG and extract. For me the main question I have to answer when I'm deciding which method to use is: are my kids going to be around?

If they aren't, then it's an AG day!

But if they are I don't want them around gallons of water between 170 and 212*. I also want to be able to attend to them instead of telling them "I'll be done in a bit."
 

dotnetdotcom

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Hey, what works for you may not work for others (particularly if you have a LHBS that sells bulk LME by the pound).
I you can't understand that then you'll never understand things like how Michael Jackson sold all those albums or why people use Twitter.
 

david_42

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I have yet to meet someone who can identify a well-made extract beer vs AG. My third batch was AG, but ten years later, I'm as likely to do PM or extract.

And I've sampled many badly done AG beers. AG doesn't make you a better brewer, any more than four-wheel drive makes you a better driver.
 

fatmoose

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Where are you getting extract?

I pay roughly $6 for 12lbs of grain. Where are you getting 9lbs of DME for $11?
Where are you getting your grain? Locally the best I've seen is about 90 cents a pound in 50 pound quantities. I pay $14.50 for 6 lbs of LME, recently did a partial mash and planning another one for this weekend.
 

rico567

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I spent about $50 on stuff for my AG setup which I would not have spent if I went extract. Really, I made a mash tun out of a 20 dollar cooler and $30 on parts from home depot. I don't see why everyone doesn't do AG and why the extract side of the hobby exists at all.

And the grains are so much cheaper than buying tons of extract! It's not really hard either, just have some DME on hand in case you get low efficiency.

Anyway, just something to think about.
OK, here's a few other things to think about.

1. After someone saying to me three years ago "You ought to try homebrewing," I read Palmer's book online, and said to myself "I think that doing that extract method would be nice, but the all-grain sounds too complicated." I brewed extract for two years, then felt comfortable enough to move to AG. Moral to this story: I might never have tried homebrewing at all if I'd had to start with all-grain.

2. My son, who brewed all-grain while in the States, was recently moved to Japan by Uncle Sam. He is unable to brew AG there for a variety of reasons I will not detail here. However, extract is perfectly practical. What should he do? My vote would be "do extract!"

Hope these examples have helped broaden your understanding as to why "-the extract side of the hobby exists at all."
 

TheMan

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I think I calculated the cost difference being about 5 bucks for a 5 gallon batch.
Wow, you're either paying way too much for grains or had a really cheap extract supplier. The cost difference for me was far more. Each batch of extract was costing me 30-40 bucks. AG batches for me average $20.

I've heard people brewing really great extract batches. I could not make one I thought was that great. AG is the way to go for me. I don't mind the small amount of extra time for beer that tastes better.
 

oceanselv

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The big step in going all grain is in the mash. When you are brewing extract or even extract with a steeping grains the malster has already done the mashing for you. The mash will add anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes to the process.

Going all grain can also increase the amount you spend on the hobby. A simple 20 qt stock pot can be used for extract and steeping. For all grain you need a larger pot, a mash tun and possibly a new burner. There is really no need to buy a grain mill, fancy polished stainless steel kettles, transfer pumps and a myriad of other equipment many of have purchased to go all grain. It simply comes down to the time you have available for the hobby, your budget and what do you enjoy doing. I have made some very god beers as an all grain brewer and as an extract brewer. Conversely, I have made some terrible brews using both methods as well. If you want complete control over the process and have the time and money to spend, all grain brewing is the way I would go. If you are looking to simply make some good drinkable beer without spending a lot on brewing equipment and keeping the process simple, then extract brewing is the choice to make.
 

JJL

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I just switched over to doing AG not too long ago. I did it mainly to try something new. I still brew extract sometimes as well. As many of the others have said, it's really about time and space. It takes 2 to 3 times as long to brew AG, depending on your mash, sparge and boil requirements.

Also, it costs more than an extra $50 to get into AG. Many extract brewers get into brewing with minimal quipment. I started with a 4 gal pot on my stovetop doing partial boils. I needed a bigger pot and a ring burner in addition to the mash tun to start AG brewing. I also learned that a wort chiller is highly recommended. So, for me, moving to AG was a $200+ investment over extract.

As for ingredient costs, you don't save a lot with AG unless you move to buying bulk. Buying bulk usually again requires more equipment. You will likely need to buy a food saver for hops, a mill for the grains.

Don't get me wrong, I like brewing all grain, but it's not quite as simple of a leap for some people. It can be quite costly and time consuming. Starting with AG brewing instead of extract may actually turn many new brewers off to home brewing.
 

fatmoose

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No, I have not. I'll give them I try when I get around to ordering a 50 pounder. Thanks!
Just checked in on this, BTW, and it seems for me to buy a 55 pound bag from them with shipping would make it more expensive than to buy it locally. Guess I'll have to see if I can get in on a group buy in Minneapolis at some point in time.
 

Minky

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One major drawback to extract brewing is not knowing the specific grains that the extract was made from. You can buy light, medium, or dark extracts and get your color right, but maybe not the flavor profile you're looking for.

There are some great extract/specialty grain recipes out there, and even some extracts made from specialty base grains like Munich, for example, but it may take much experimentation to develop an extract recipe that meets your expectations.

The signature flavors of some beers may only be attainable by mashing.
 

cenla

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I spent about $50 on stuff for my AG setup which I would not have spent if I went extract. Really, I made a mash tun out of a 20 dollar cooler and $30 on parts from home depot. I don't see why everyone doesn't do AG and why the extract side of the hobby exists at all.
well, for me it's either extract or nothing. I don't have the time and I don't have the gear. Our kitchen is suitable for extract, but I'd need to get a propane burner, tank, etc... in able to do AG.

And then there's the kids. (2 and 4). They're intensely curious and the wife strangely expects me to help out when I have time off.

and yes, malt extract is expensive but the total cost of buying the necessary ingredients for an extract brew is still less than buying a case of a decent ale in my area.

Then again, I could go back to drinking Miller High Life.
 

weirdboy

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well, for me it's either extract or nothing. I don't have the time and I don't have the gear. Our kitchen is suitable for extract, but I'd need to get a propane burner, tank, etc... in able to do AG.

I have done plenty of AG batches in my apartment kitchen, both of the BIAB variety as well as the full gamut using a mash tun, etc.

You might take a look at this thread:

Easy Stovetop All-Grain Brewing

That's not the only way to get it done, but it's a decent system.
 

dracus

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I've done a few stove top AG batches. While not ideal, I have done a full boil on my electric stove. I had to use two burners and it took forever but I did work.
 

kappclark

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AG is fun for experimenting ... I am now tasting an ale I made from just a base grain of Marris Otter and Amarillo hops... not bad, if I do say so myself - but it has me thinking about what effect this ingredient or that wld have on the taste...it helps me focus on the ingredients...

The process is full of discovery..sure, we can follow a cook book, but when we add our imagination, the fun really begins..
 

Synovia

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Wow, you're either paying way too much for grains or had a really cheap extract supplier. The cost difference for me was far more. Each batch of extract was costing me 30-40 bucks. AG batches for me average $20.

I've heard people brewing really great extract batches. I could not make one I thought was that great. AG is the way to go for me. I don't mind the small amount of extra time for beer that tastes better.
With Bulk Hops, I'm at about $8-10 for a nice pale ale. Still can't get extract below about 25. Thats 200% MORE expensive.
 
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