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From extract to all grain and back?

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Tutsbrew

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Anyone here doing primarily extract or extract with grains now AFTER primarily doing all grain for awhile?

If you do/did, would you mind letting us in on your reasoning?

I'm considering going "full circle" due to brew time availability, reducing areas of possible "oh crap's" and just to be able to make good beer with less overall stress. That's my thinking right now as I stand at that fork in the road of brew methods...

(I appreciate the many benefits to the beer and to the honing of brew skills along with increased variety that all grain brewing provides, btw)

Anyone here been in the position the first sentence above describes? If so, could you please answer the question the second sentence asks?

Thank you!
 

barleywhore69

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I'm in it for the low cost of my all-grain batches. $0.35 beers are usually crap, but not mine. If the increased cost is not a factor, then do whatever you want. I hear about award winning extract beers all the time.
 

TrubDog

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You are making a great choice (not)!
As long as you like instant coffee instead of fresh ground, and canned vegetables instead of fresh - go for it. It's kinda like cooking, once you figure out how to cook with fresh ingredients you won't go back.

There are tons of videos on YouTube and a wealth of information on this site. Maybe join a local club. Just spend a little more time before you jump ship.
 

sikkingj

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Whatever floats your boat. When I did extract I made great beers, now doing all grain, I'm still trying to get the consistency I had with extract.

All grain gives your moves levers to pull, as far as styles of beer go, but also the end of the day you can make terrific extract beer.

In my opinion, extract should be in every arsenal. If you don't have the time/materials do any extract batch, it you have the time, materials, etc. do an all grain. For the majority of us, you'll turn out similar beers.


Sent from the window of an airplane...
 

stevedasleeve

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Extract -> all grain. Then a couple of years ago I found I had no time so instead of grinding and mashing I just got back to extract, sped up my brew day a lot, beers were great as always. That asted a few months, got my time back... long story ... went back to all grain.

I much prefer all gain and don't mind the time at all, but if I find I have not time to brew all grain again I'd go back to extract.
 

kh54s10

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Extract has it's place. I do some extracts during the coldest part of winter. (to brew inside) I have plenty of time for all grain when I do those and I have done enough that there is no stress involved.

I enjoy my all grain brew days. I also enjoy doing some extracts from time to time. They are just as good as all grain. But, I am a penny pincher so doing all grain does save a good amount of $$.

So, yes I do some extracts. But no, I have not and probably will never go fully back to extracts.
 

Black Island Brewer

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I went from extract to all grain to extract to all grain again, just because of the chaos of my life. The second time around with extract my beer was way better, even better than my first few AG batches. The main reason for me was space and time limitations. Now, if I had discovered BIAB before going back to extract, I may not have gone back to extract, because BIAB adds just a little more time than extract/steeping, but in a single pot. I brew both three vessel and BIAB AG.

If you want to explore what extract can do, check out Brewing Classic Styles. Every recipe is extract (some a bit more complicated), but still huge variety and flexibility.
 

kegtoe

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Tutsbrew, I agree. I'm doing the same thing. I have invested a good amount of time and money just assembling my all grain equipment and process. I too, like to learn more about all grain and adjusting recipes etc. However, I have a busy life working 60+ hours a week. I have twin 3 year old boys. My non work time is a priority to me and my family. I can do an extract batch fairly quick. Getting ingredients together and starters made in short time blips, then I can keep my brew day fairly short.

I totally disagree with Trubdog and think that analogy is crap. It's not about not wanting to take the time to learn or want to make quality beer. That's why we are on this forum, to learn more and be better. Lots of people make really good extract beers. There is also a lot more to learn with extract with different techniques, eliminating extract twang, how to best maximize hop utilization, etc.

To each there own man. Do what you like to do. Brew with the process that you find most enjoyable!
 

redwing_al

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dont sweat it, just do it. I followed your path and eventually started AG, BIAB. However, my last 2 batches were partial mash kits from my LHBS. The reason is that it's cold out. My kits turn out pretty good and I just want to keep beer in the pipeline! Starting another one today as a matter of fact, a clone of the Fat Tire.. So, yup, brew whatever is convenient for you when you feel like brewing. It's an itch that needs a scratch, so brew!

By the way, I plan to order an AG Braumeister, so I likely won't do too many more (if any) partial mash kits, although time, space and the need to scratch an itch will always determine what I brew and when.

:mug:
 

mrdail87

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I hop back and forth between the two all the time. I do extracts sometimes just for the convenience. Sometimes it's because the recipe works either way, that is, when I don't have anything that needs mashing besides the main base malt.

I also do extracts in the summer because it's easier to cool down when you don't have to do a full volume boil.
 

unionrdr

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I worked my way up to pb/pm biab but still do E/SG to fill the pipeline or try new beers I haven't brewed yet. I've got a good process down, so I can do AE beers well. Or E/SG's. Whatever I feel like at the moment works. Just do whatever catches your fancy atm. You don't have to switch permanently, just do one brew style today, maybe another brew style next time. Be flexible, I say.:mug:
 

brewprint

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So how much cheaper is all grain than extract of you can steep grains for say $1-5 dollars and buy LME for $2 per pound and hops by the pound?
 

ericbw

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So how much cheaper is all grain than extract of you can steep grains for say $1-5 dollars and buy LME for $2 per pound and hops by the pound?

At $2 a pound for LME, you can compete with grain on price. But that's cheap for LME!!
 
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I do mostly AG (BIAB), but there are some kits that I think make great extract or PM beer and I will indeed make them again. I believe it was Palmer who wrote that there is no shame or diminished capacity in using extract -- as much as I love and respect all y'all - I respect Palmer more. (Well as Bilbo said, I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.) I also feel that I make better extract beers after spending time here and adding the extract later in the boil.
 

dkevinb

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So how much cheaper is all grain than extract of you can steep grains for say $1-5 dollars and buy LME for $2 per pound and hops by the pound?
Around here (SoCal) I can brew the same 5-gallon batch of beer for about $13 less if I do AG vs. extract. All other things (specialty grains, hops, yeast) being equal base grain (8 lbs of 2-row) will cost me roughly $10 while the extract (6 lbs of LME and 1 lb DME) will cost about $23.
 

ericbw

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You are making a great choice (not)!
As long as you like instant coffee instead of fresh ground, and canned vegetables instead of fresh - go for it. It's kinda like cooking, once you figure out how to cook with fresh ingredients you won't go back.

There are tons of videos on YouTube and a wealth of information on this site. Maybe join a local club. Just spend a little more time before you jump ship.

Yeah, like using canned beans to make chili? Or hummus? Or diced tomatoes for sauce?

You always use fresh? Or is there a place for those? Your comparison is not accurate.
 

dkevinb

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I did about 30 batches of extract before switching to BIAB AG. I've done 5 of those. I like AG, but I wouldn't hesitate to do extract batches if I wanted to save some time. I've found that I can make very, very good beer consistently with extract. I can also make very, very good beer with AG, but I have not gotten my process to the point where it is nearly as consistent.

In any case, your brewing process isn't like getting married or committing to a religion. No one but the snobs will care if you do it one way or the other or switch back and forth. If you're happy with your beer, what else matters?
 

Falcon3

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I was making some pretty bad beers with AG (I started full 3 vessel AG on my second batch). My water was abysmal and the regular calcs weren't helping at all. I went back to extract for 2-3 brews to dial the rest of my process and learn water chemistry. When the extract brews were pretty good, I went back to AG with my improved water knowledge and started knocking my beers out of the park.
 

bigmike99

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Went from extract to Biab now back to extract until my electric biab setup arrives.

Time is/was the biggest factor with the family growing by the minute it seems but if I can brew indoor while keeping a handle on the place Biab will be my preference.
 

unionrdr

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Yeah, biab works so well for me, I'll stick with that for pm beers or even steeping grain brews. It's the most cost effective equipment-wise.:mug:
 

atmfuge

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I went from basic ciders, to kits with steeping grains, to partial mash to all grain in about 10 months. I have had very good results with all of them, but I am going back to extract with steeping grains and some small partial mashes simply due to time. I work 65-70 hours a week and a 6 hour brew day on the weekends was taking time away from my family. I'm probably even going to scale it back to doing small batch sizes as well for more diversity in the pipeline, especially now that I have started creating my own recipes.
Ultimately though my decision has been about balancing time and effort between brewing and spending it with my family. If I worked better hours and if my daughter was a bit older I dont think I would switch. (AKA I'll go back to AG in the future.)
 

AndyM

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My 2 cents is brew what you feel like, I have done all grain and 15 minute boil extract speed brews. Sometimes I just don't have the time to spend the 5-6 hours to do an all grain, that's where the hour long extract speed brew comes in. Actually kind of fun to compare the results as it involves drinking beer, which is my REAL hobby.
 

masskrug

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Small kids and family outings take up my weekends now. I can make a canned no-boil kit in 20 minutes. Makes a fine 4.5% beer. The cost is 30% more, but worth the time I save.

1. Make a hop tea: Steep hops in boiling water for 10 minutes (optional).
2. While hops are steeping, dump a can of hopped LME, 2 lbs DME and 1 lb dextrose into the fermentation bucket.
3. Pour in the hop tea, stir and fill the bucket with cold water. Pitch yeast and ferment.
4. Dry hop (optional).
 

rodwha

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Like a few others my issue will be time as the HVAC field takes up 6 days a week from spring to fall in Texas, and now that my daughter is bigger it’s about time to go back to work. All grain just really takes most of the day to do and then clean up.

But I absolutely love doing all grain brewing for every reason (cost, flexibility, all mine, and the unknowns).
 

Craig C

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Around here (SoCal) I can brew the same 5-gallon batch of beer for about $13 less if I do AG vs. extract. All other things (specialty grains, hops, yeast) being equal base grain (8 lbs of 2-row) will cost me roughly $10 while the extract (6 lbs of LME and 1 lb DME) will cost about $23.
Interesting. I have recently started brewing extracts and just finished up my fourth batch. All have been great! So if the above is true, I simply have to decide if the extra $13 I spend on an extract kits is worth saving an additional three hours of my time. My initial thought is, absolutely it is. I may try BIAB at some point, but I don't know enough now to want to try and make my own recipe or need the control of the process that AG provides.
 

rodwha

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Interesting. I have recently started brewing extracts and just finished up my fourth batch. All have been great! So if the above is true, I simply have to decide if the extra $13 I spend on an extract kits is worth saving an additional three hours of my time. My initial thought is, absolutely it is. I may try BIAB at some point, but I don't know enough now to want to try and make my own recipe or need the control of the process that AG provides.
If brewing is something you truly love you’ll end up trying all grain and not wanting to go back. It’s just so more personally involved, and therefor satisfying.

I’ll be happy I brewed it I make an extract beer but I’ll certainly miss all of the details by cutting it short. I’d certainly not choose extract over all grain:
 

mr_stout

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So how much cheaper is all grain than extract of you can steep grains for say $1-5 dollars and buy LME for $2 per pound and hops by the pound?
Where do you get LME for $2 dollars per pound?
 

RM-MN

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Interesting. I have recently started brewing extracts and just finished up my fourth batch. All have been great! So if the above is true, I simply have to decide if the extra $13 I spend on an extract kits is worth saving an additional three hours of my time. My initial thought is, absolutely it is. I may try BIAB at some point, but I don't know enough now to want to try and make my own recipe or need the control of the process that AG provides.
I've learned to do an all grain batch in about the same amount of time as an extract batch used to take me. If you can do that, then the extra $13 for an extract batch would be excessive.
 

rodwha

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I've learned to do an all grain batch in about the same amount of time as an extract batch used to take me. If you can do that, then the extra $13 for an extract batch would be excessive.
I’d certainly like to know about your routine. I clean the kitchen and then set all of my equipment and ingredients out the night before. I typically start around 10 am and am finished with fermented sealed between 5-6 pm. And then there’s all of the clean up. Soon I won’t want to spend that long, which eats up the whole day, much. And I hate the clean up!
 

ericbw

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I've gotten a grain batch down to about 5 hours. Extract might only be 3 hours. The cleanup is still a pain!
 

RM-MN

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If you want an all grain session to be as short as an extract batch you have to make some changes. First is to get the grain milled fine enough that the starches are all exposed so they gelatinize immediately. That then requires that you retire your mash tun because you won't be able to drain the mash (stuck mash) and move to a method that allows draining that finely milled grain (BIAB). While you are filling the kettle, you need to be weighing the grains. While the water heats to strike temp, you mill the grains.

Now with the grains milled so finely, your mash period does not need to be an hour. Cut that in half, about equal to the steeping time for extract with steeping grains. Unless using under modified malts or malts containing plenty of SMM, you don't need an hour long boil. Cut that in half also but adjust your hops to get the correct bittering. A 30 minute boil will get you approximately 90% of the bittering that you get with a 60 minute boil. You also have to adjust the amount of water because you get half the boil off.

During that short boil period, you clean the fermenter and put away anything you are finished with like the scale you weighed the grains with. Pull the bag of grains and let it hang over the kettle while the wort comes to a boil or squeeze/press the wort out. Sparge if you want to/need to while the wort is heating. Dump out the grains and rinse out the bag too. The bag doesn't need to be perfectly clean, just get rid of the majority of the grains so it will dry quickly.

Cooling the wort may take a bit longer than with extract but if you really are trying to cut the time down you will have a wort chiller.
 

kh54s10

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Shorten your day without changing the way you brew. Weigh out the grains and hops the day before and mill the grain. Start heating the water as you are filling the pot. Prepare anything needed during the boil while mashing. Clean what was used in the mash while the boil is progressing. The only things left to clean after the boil is the chiller and the boil kettle.

It usually takes me a long time as I don't really make much of an attempt to shorten brew day but if I do it is like 1/2 hour to get the grain and hops ready. 1/2 hour to get the strike water ready. 1 hour mash. 15 minutes of draining and sparging. 1 hour boil, 1/2 hour chilling, 1/2 hour cleaning and putting stuff away. So 4.25 to 4.5 hours.
 
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