Debate my buddy and I had. Is extract brewing REALLY making homebrew?

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Evan!

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MrEcted1 said:
Sorry, off-topic here but what does SWMBO mean? i've seen it a few times and I haven't been able to decipher it myself yet.

It took me awhile too, as this is the first (and only) place I've seen that acronym. It means She Who Must Be Obeyed.
 

Wheat King

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how many extract brewers dont aspire to AG? once i get a full grip on extract, i'd like to make my own recipes. once i can do that, why not move on to AG? i'm just saying, theres no reason to start at the most complicated level. like anything, learning the basics is the key to excellence at the highest levels...or , you gotta start somewhere. its not really like training wheels on a bike, more like ...well, you guys threw out some good analogies already...

my point went way away from where i meant it to. uh yea, i think extract brewing counts as homebrewing.
 

rdwj

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Wheat King said:
uh yea, i think extract brewing counts as homebrewing.

I agree, it's homebrewing - just not at the highest level. At least we're more advanced than those Mr Beer guys! :D
 

kornkob

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My Pop never did full grain (although one year he did press his own dandylions for Dandy Wine) and I've got no interest in AG either.
 

Monk

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rdwj said:
I agree, it's homebrewing - just not at the highest level. At least we're more advanced than those Mr Beer guys! :D

For me, the "highest level" of homebrewing is to make phenomenol beer on a regular basis, independent of what technique you use. Technique and outcome aren't always distinct from one another, but trying to go all-grain just to say you can do it, while making mediocre brew, seems silly. I don't understand what all the self-image stuff is doing connected to homebrewing. ? Who cares if someone thinks you're a real homebrewer or not? Have a few of your own homebrews and you won't give a rat's ass about their opinion. cheers,

monk
 

rdwj

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Monk said:
For me, the "highest level" of homebrewing is to make phenomenol beer on a regular basis, independent of what technique you use. Technique and outcome aren't always distinct from one another, but trying to go all-grain just to say you can do it, while making mediocre brew, seems silly. I don't understand what all the self-image stuff is doing connected to homebrewing. ? Who cares if someone thinks you're a real homebrewer or not? Have a few of your own homebrews and you won't give a rat's ass about their opinion. cheers,

monk

I think you're right and I don't mean to belittle extract. I'm an extract brewer at this point and a novice one at that. If I were to go AG now, it would be silly. I have enough to learn before adding another dimension to my brewing.

That being said, I aspire to go AG one day, but would NEVER turn down a good brew no matter how it was made.
 

Bernie Brewer

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MrEcted1 said:
I hope you didn't take my post as derogatory towards extract brewers. I'm an extract brewer.

Oh, btw, sorry for reopening the can. I just had this friendly debate with a buddy (it didn't get heated or anything) so I thought I would share it with my brewing buddies online.

BTW, he did start with extract brewing, but he says it felt like he was making a frozen dinner, when he could have been making the steak himself (his words, not mine).


No need to apologize. I only meant that this is one of the subjects that keeps coming up , along with some others. and they will be discussed again, too, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. They're kind of this forum's answer to politics........
 

Biermann

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I do AG, and I don't do extract anymore. There's nothing wrong with extract, and I haven't ruled out doing it some other time, especially if I'm short on time and need to whip up a beer.

Like anything, brewing takes toys and equipment, and AG allows one to assemble an impressive array of stainless, copper, plastic, interlocking hoses, tubes, pumps, etc.

I'm in it way toooo deep at this point, so I feel obliged to do AG. Either that, or I'm trying to compensate for a shortcoming with all my large, shiny equipment.

Extract brewing is still brewing. We have two all extract microbreweries here, and both are pretty good. :mug:
 

pariah

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Does your friend grow and harvest his own grains?

Roast or malt them himself?

Does he grow his own hops?

Does he harvest his own yeasts?

No? Then tell him he's not a real homebrewer!
 
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MrEcted1

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Okay, the guy in question (his name is Nick) actually works with me. I brought up a couple of the points that you guys brought up. I told him "Well, since you don't grow your own hops, grains...etc then that means you're not a real homebrewer either" and he replied with something along the lines of the following (keep in mind that I definitely don't follow these beliefs)

"Sure I don't grow my own hops, but someone competing in a chile cookoff doesn't grow their own tomatoes, onions, garlic...etc. But you can't take a can of staggs, add a few spices and call it your own. The guy who wins the competition knows how to create chili from scratch"

So I guess he's trying to imply that extract brewers just take a few ingredients and the premade extact and make a brew, while the AG brewer takes control of the whole process. That's coming from him. I'm trying to get him to setup an account on this website so he can debate this himself...

I told him that just because we don't mash the grains ourselves doesn't mean that we don't have good control over the beer. This guy is just too proud of himself. I respect any brewer, AG, extract, Mr Beer, it doesn't matter... if you brew your own beer then more power to ya!
 
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MrEcted1

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Ah another thing I meant to mention.

This guy, although he does AG is not a very good brewer at all. Oftentimes either him or I will bring beers to work on a friday to share with the guys and gals after work. Last time he brought in an ESB and it COMPLETLEY lacked any carbonation what-so-ever. At the time i was nice about it... but 2 people didn't even finish their beers because they didn't like em. So of coarse I brought up "Hey, even though I brew extract beers at least mine are carbonated and people drink them!"... he wasn't happy about that remark... He told me that his lacked carbonation because when he bottled the beers, they were accidently placed where direct sunlight was hitting them. I just let him believe his own excuse.
 

disaffected

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MrEcted1 said:
I'm trying to get him to setup an account on this website so he can debate this himself...

It's likely that if you managed to get him to join this forum, he would benefit from it as most of us do. He might stick around, become part of the community, learn a lot, and contribute back for the benefit of others. That would be really neat, don't you think? It might lead to an expansion of the ranks of knowledgeble and passionate homebrewers, always a cool thing.

Though I wonder how welcome he'd feel if he read this thread.
 

E5B

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I've done 4 extract kits and they've turned out better than anything I've purchased at the store. Honestly, I could care less what anyone thinks of me, I made the beer, drink the beer, like the beer and sometimes get naked and run down the neighborhood because of the beer. It's all good!

I've never heard the term "prehopped Extract". The extract kits I made was a can of extract and a package of DME. I didn't add any hopps, does that make it a prehop kit?

I've seen kits that have some grains that require steeping AND a can of extract, is this what you call mini-mash or partial grain?

I've read that AG requires cracking the grains, what else goes into it?
 

disaffected

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E5B said:
I've done 4 extract kits and they've turned out better than anything I've purchased at the store. Honestly, I could care less what anyone thinks of me, I made the beer, drink the beer, like the beer and sometimes get naked and run down the neighborhood because of the beer. It's all good!

Cheers, then! Sounds like you're having fun and you're satisfied, and that's what counts in my book. :mug:

E5B said:
I've never heard the term "prehopped Extract". The extract kits I made was a can of extract and a package of DME. I didn't add any hopps, does that make it a prehop kit?

Yes.

E5B said:
I've seen kits that have some grains that require steeping AND a can of extract, is this what you call mini-mash or partial grain?

No, the specialty grains that you steep are used to impart color and other characteristics to the beer. A mini-mash or partial grain is a recipe that has a primary malt of some sort in the grain bill (2-row pale, for example) as a significant component, as well as either DME or LME to fill out the fermentables. The mini-mash or partial grain recipe requires mashing, just like an all grain effort, but with smaller amounts of grain that require less equipment, etc.

E5B said:
I've read that AG requires cracking the grains, what else goes into it?

Water, grains, hops, and yeast are the main ingredients. There are all kinds of adjuncts, like corn, wheat, oats, rye, wood chips, fruits, spices, sugars in various forms, etc, that people use to alter the flavor profile or other characteristics of the beer (color, mouthfeel, body, head, etc)
 

ayrton

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The problem is that this is very subjective. For example, if I malted the barley myself and he didn't, I could claim he isn't home brewing because he's taking someone else's malt. Moreover, someone who plants the grain and watches it grow before harvesting it and then malting could argue that I'm not a homebrewer because I don't grow the grain myself. You can place any number of qualifiers on it, but the bottom line is that extract brewing removes at most 1 whole step. To claim that one step makes the difference between whether or not one is homebrewing is...well, a little silly.

I do extract with specialty grains, and often end up with ~4 lbs. of grain anyway. If someone handed me an AG recipe and the equipment, I know enough now that I could pull it off (thanks to this forum).

Next time he makes lasagna, tell him he didn't really make it unless he made the noodles.
 

ian

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I've been following this thread pretty closely and (probably against my better judgement) I am going to throw in my 2 pennies.

This is similar to a discussion (friendly I promise) i had with a good friend who recently started homebrewing. Now, I'm no expert and have only been brewing for a little over a year and he's got about 3 batches under his belt as well (his first batch was this spring). We both started with extract and I jumped to All-grain as soon as I felt I was ready for it. He was asking some questions about it and why I do all-grain since it takes so long. I gave the usual list of reasons - controlability, more interested in the whole process, etc. But I have to say that really the biggest reason for me was that I always felt like I was making a cake from a Duncan Hines box and wanted to make it from scratch.

I personally felt that I'd be more involved in the process if I went all-grain - it felt more like baking a cake from scratch, or biscuits, or whatever. I know that tons of people make cakes (or buiscuits, etc) from a box and get great results, like everyone said, it still results in a great product and it was quicker. But, I (and I stress I) wanted to see it through, and personally I feel more like a brewer doing all-grain (man, I'm gonna catch hell for that one! :tank: )

OK, I'm about to hit the "submit" button. . . I'm cringing at the flames I'm about to feel!;) :D
 

the_bird

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Why would we flame you? I don't think anyone who does AG would disagree with you, and you certainly have not indicated any sense of superiority over those of us who are still extract-based...

Think of it this way; you're making a cake from scratch, while I'm using Duncan Hines - that's still better than buying one from the bakery counter, isn't it?
 

Walker

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MrEcted1 said:
He told me that his lacked carbonation because when he bottled the beers, they were accidently placed where direct sunlight was hitting them. I just let him believe his own excuse.

Man, you should have totally jumped up his pompous a$$ about that comment and explained to him that sunlight has no affect on carbonation.

Then conclude with "real homebrewers know these things." :)
 

Desert_Sky

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The only thing I didn't really like about doing my extracts was that I could never dial in the color I wanted. Even if I did a late boil addition, it was always darker than I wanted.

Brewing, is brewing. And you're still making beer either way IMO.
 

the_bird

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No REAL homebrewer allows his or her beer to become light-struck...

"Real homebrew or not real homebrew, at least I'm not serving flat, skunky pisswater!"
 

ian

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the_bird said:
Think of it this way; you're making a cake from scratch, while I'm using Duncan Hines - that's still better than buying one from the bakery counter, isn't it?

Thanks Bird! No, I wasn't implying any superiorty - just personal preference. And yes, both are better than picking up a cake at the bakery!
 

ayrton

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ian said:
But I have to say that really the biggest reason for me was that I always felt like I was making a cake from a Duncan Hines box and wanted to make it from scratch.

No flames from me, but I disagree a little bit on the analogy. Extract brewing takes away one step from the process. It's an important step, yes, but there is still a considerable amount of work to be done, especially with partial mashing. I can still gain some extra control over my beer with specialty grains AND the combinations/amounts of extract that I use. Let's not forget I still have control over hop varieties/amounts, temperatures, yeast, adjuncts, etc. In a hobby where an infinite amount of results are possible, extract brewers just have a smaller infinity to play with (which is mathematically valid - look it up). With a cake mix, everything is measured out for you, and you just need to mix it together.

That said, I'd switch to AG tomorrow if I had the space. My apartment is tiny (no basement, attic, garage) and SWMBO has been really great with carboys eating up valuable kitchen space...best not to push the issue. :) I also would love to gain an appreciation for the whole process, but partial mashes are perfect for where I am now. :mug:
 

Evan!

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MrEcted1 said:
Okay, the guy in question (his name is Nick) actually works with me. I brought up a couple of the points that you guys brought up. I told him "Well, since you don't grow your own hops, grains...etc then that means you're not a real homebrewer either" and he replied with something along the lines of the following (keep in mind that I definitely don't follow these beliefs)

"Sure I don't grow my own hops, but someone competing in a chile cookoff doesn't grow their own tomatoes, onions, garlic...etc. But you can't take a can of staggs, add a few spices and call it your own. The guy who wins the competition knows how to create chili from scratch"

So I guess he's trying to imply that extract brewers just take a few ingredients and the premade extact and make a brew, while the AG brewer takes control of the whole process. That's coming from him. I'm trying to get him to setup an account on this website so he can debate this himself...

I told him that just because we don't mash the grains ourselves doesn't mean that we don't have good control over the beer. This guy is just too proud of himself. I respect any brewer, AG, extract, Mr Beer, it doesn't matter... if you brew your own beer then more power to ya!

Like talking to a wall, isn't it? Using extract is not even in the same ballpark as adding spices to canned chili. Okay, maybe, just maybe, I can see a valid comparison between "adding a few spices to canned chili" and those prehopped, no-boil, just-add-warm-water kits. Maybe. But good god, man, using extract in your brew is akin to, say, using canned tomatoes in chili. I'm a freakin MASTER chili chef, and I still use canned tomatoes sometimes.

The bottom line is, this "friend" of yours wants to draw a big fat distinction between two methods of making beer, when in fact, the distinction is pretty small. Brewing methods vary in degrees, and there's no real fundamental distinction between the two, just a variation in degrees.

Furthermore, he keeps trying to justify his irrational elitism by making connections back to cooking, as if that is some universal touchstone of defining your dedication to your craft. Quite simply, the fundamental distinction that this guy craves just isn't there. He can draw connections to chili cookoffs or whatever other hobby he wants, but, to me, it seems like all he's doing is trying to bolster his ego by portraying his method as somehow universally superior. I kinda feel sorry for the guy...especially now that I've learned that his beers aren't very good. :(
 

Pumbaa

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MrEcted1 said:
My buddy and I, who also brews (AG) got into a friendly debate. On one side (mine) I was saying that of coarse extract brewing was really making homebrew. I said it takes out the step of mashing the grains, but you still have good control over the finished product. You still add specialty grains (if desired), you still add hops, you still follow much of the same procedures, except you don't have to mash the grains.

On his side he was saying that extract brewing was not really making your own beer because mashing grains is a significant step in brewing and offers even more control. He said extract brewing was the "just add water" method of homebrew. He also mentioned that since I don't know how to do AG right now, if someone just handed me a bunch of grains and hops then I wouldn't know how to use them to make beer, which is true - right now anyways.

I of coarse stand firm on my belief, but I was just curious as to what you guys think.

- peace!

You guys are looking at this all wrong . . .

Mr Ected1 what ya need to do is just agree with your friend and say "You are right. Extract brewing is not home brewing! Further more any beverage with ETOH in it that wanst made by someone not using an all grain method is not homebrew." . . . then reach over grab his beer, slam it down, belch and DO NOT offer him a new one until he says HE'S a moron and you are right.:tank:

I'm sure a punch to the nutz could be added in there at any point.:rockin:
 

Ize

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I like Ian's analogy on why he chooses AG as well. NOTE that I said HE CHOOSES. It's his choice, and he doesn't shove it down anyone's throat. He digs the whole process of AG and I'm sure turns out good beer. He's a Homebrewer. His buddy does Extract and turns out good beer. He's a homebrewer.

To me, it's all about what we all want out of this Hobby/Sport/Obsession, GOOD BEER.... How you get there should be your own journey and for someone to tell you their way is better than yours is pompous and amazingly arrogant...

Thus he has then earned what I feel is the best response to his arrogant a$$.

Quote Pumbaa I'm sure a punch to the nutz could be added in there at any point

:rockin:


Ize
 

EvilTOJ

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My chili actually does come from a can... at first. I use Nalley for the beans and meat, then start adding green and red peppers, onions, all manner of spices and powders, cheeses, salsa, until it looks nothing like anything that came out of a can.

I'm basically saying that even if an ingredient does come pre-packaged, it still can be quite unique when it's all said and done.


Oh yes, and a punch to the nutz and playing Sir Mix-a-lot fixes many problems :D
 

Cheesefood

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stupid nick dude said:
"The guy who wins the competition knows how to create chili from scratch"

That means that using someone else's recipe isn't really brewing, now is it?

Extract is not dehydrated beer. It's just a processed grain, much like cheese is processed milk. I think of it like this: homebrew is a result of the effort put into it. Quite honestly, someone could open a can of Pabst, put a drop of vanilla in it and call it their own beer. And quite honestly it is, since they put effort into taking something and customizing it.

It's the attention to individualizing the product that transforms fermented stew into homebrew. It's the time spent making it, arguing about the wife that the floor isn't still sticky, the patience that it takes to sit and wait for that golden moment when it's ready and the realization of a super-unique finished product.

Is Budweiser homebrew? It fits your bro's definition.
 

HomerT

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Since I shot the deer, skinned the deer, and butchered/processed the meat myself, does that mean my Venison Chili makes me a master chef?

-Todd
 

Bernie Brewer

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I brew AG and the biggest thing I get out of is that every time I brew I get to marvel how you can take something that smells like a silo and an hour or so later you have this pot of stuff that'll make beer. It's like watching a metamorphosis of sorts-like a caterpillar into a butterfly. That certainly doesn't mean I'm going to look down on those that choose to skip the first part of the brewing process. Their beers are every bit as homebrewed as mine. :mug:
 

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Walker-san said:
These are the cans:

(1) aluminum vs. stainless steel
(2) bleach as a sanitizer
(3) AG vs. extract
(4) glass vs. plastic

There are probably more. :)
I'd like to add "Cold vs. Warm Pitching Lager Yeast" to the cans.

In an interview with the great Ray Daniels, he mentioned that the recipe he is always trying to perfect is an EXTRACT low ABV American Pale Ale. I think it was the Brewing Network interview. It's a shame when good brewers turn to the evils of extract!;)
 
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