Want to start with all grain...

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T-SULLI

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Well this is my first post so I guess I should introduce myself. My name is Tim and I live in Southern California. I look forward to speaking and learning from all of you.

Ok down to business... lol. I am new to home brewing although it seems like the past month I have been obsessed with wanting to get started. I have not done anything but sit at the computer and look up recipes, starter guides, techniques, and and of course all of the terminology.

After all of my searching I find myself wanting to jump directly into all grain brewing. Is that how any of you guys started? I think the reason for this is because I have always wanted to make my very own flavors of beer as im sure all of you take pride in. In order to do that and make it completely my own I would need to make my beer from scratch. Other wise I feel like I would be cheating.

Any way my question is do you guys think this may be an option? Or from you experience do you think I would be getting in way over my head? I look forward to hearing from all of you... :mug:
 

Yooper

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Welcome to HBT! :mug:

Of course you can start with all-grain brewing, and I know that some of the guys around here have done that. I started much more slowly, with extract and steeping grains, then went to a partial mash system, then all-grain. That's because I'm kind of a slow learner, I guess!

I think whichever way you start will be fine. The main thing is to learn processes, especially relating to sanitation and temperature. If you're comfortable with that, then you are way ahead of where I was! I needed the opportunity to concentrate on the boil and hops and fermentation before I felt comfortable with all-grain.

Some very good brewers never go to all-grain, because either they don't feel the need, or maybe because of space limitations, so it's not necessarily a progression for everyone. Some very good brews have been made with extract, and I enjoyed them when I made them.

Howtobrew.com is a great resource for brewing (It's a free online version of my favorite brewing book) and so is our wiki (link above). Good luck, and feel free to ask questions.
 

Bernie Brewer

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You certianly can start that way, I have a friend that did. It's and awful to to take in in one bite, but it can be done. I would definitely start by reading as much as youcould. I know you have been doing this, but a good read is John Palmer's How To Brew. If your going all grain right away, read that baby from start to finish. Meanwhile you can start assembling your equipment.

That's another thing. Assembling equipment may seem more daunting both financially and interms of the work involved, but again, it certainly can be done. I am impressed with your motivation! Feel free to ask any questions, someone here will be able to answer. And good luck, and have fun!
 

zoebisch01

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I did only one extract batch before going straight into all grain. The amount of difficulty that you'll have will greatly depend on a lot of factors, but the best thing I did was that I knew Palmer's book inside and out before diving in.

The advice I can give is first know the entire process inside and out. Second, if you can find someone to show you then that is the best way to go. Third, buy 10 gallon coolers and batch sparge (unless you are limited on space). In hindsight I should have done it this way. First off, it is less labor intensive (you have to continuously pour water in a fly sparge) and secondly I struggle with high gravity brews because I am seriously limited by the room in the cooler.
 

Donasay

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Go for it man jump right in to all grain, and once you are comfortable brewing get a copy of extreme brewing by randy mosher, you sound like the kind of guy who is motivated to make some awesome outrageous beers.

I personally do all grain a little, but still brew with quite a bit of extract, thus far this year I have made about 80 gallons of beer only half of which was all grain. There is nothing wrong with using extract and it is a huge time and space saver.

The only benefit to going extract before all grain is that you get to work out your fermentation cooling and sanitization issues. You might brew your first beer all grain and think that the problem comes from the way you mash or sparge when in fact it comes from improperly cooling or improperly sanitizing or improperly transferring your beer.

My 3rd ever all grain batch was inadvertently oxidized after fermentation when transferring to secondary. I thought it had something to do with the way I mashed my grains and couldn't see proverbial the forest for the trees. I knew what oxidation tasted like and have tasted it before, but in this situation I had mental blinders on and it wasn't until a fellow brewer tasted it and told me it was oxidation that I realized it wasn't the mash, but my being lazy while transferring to secondary.

Starting with extract will allow you to perfect these techniques before going on and trying other new techniques.
 

Moonshae

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I've been thinking about giving AG a try, but now that I'm digging into How to Brew, I'm starting to think against it...water reports, temp control to within 2-3 degrees, pH levels...this seems unfortunately complex, especially since I filter my water, so a water report from the utility won't tell me anything about the water I use to brew.

My first reading of a How To all grain site seemed pretty basic...add 160 degree water to the grain, let it sit, drain, sparge with 170 degree water, boil wort, add hops, etc.

Is it really as simple as the second example, or is it oversimplified to give an introduction? I don't want to buy a digital thermometer just to be able to measure my temp to within 1 degree instead of about 5. I wouldn't even know how to change it by a degree or two, anyway. Adjusting pH is pretty straightforward, and testing that is no big deal.
 

cd2448

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i'm going to be moving up to AG in the next couple of weeks, just need to get a bigger cooler (currently have a 2gallon MLT for partial mashes). i went the individual steps: extract -> steep+extract -> partial mash. i think that was best for me, enabled me to learn a few steps at a time instead of everything in one go!

the only thing i would say is plan from the start for where you want to end up - if you know you'll be going AG at some point, then make sure when you get equipment that it won't be obsolete at a later stage. i've made a few purchases (boil pot, MLT) that were a wee bit short sighted. the boil pot was the worst thing - the MLT was only $10.
 

zoebisch01

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Moonshae said:
I've been thinking about giving AG a try, but now that I'm digging into How to Brew, I'm starting to think against it...water reports, temp control to within 2-3 degrees, pH levels...this seems unfortunately complex, especially since I filter my water, so a water report from the utility won't tell me anything about the water I use to brew.

My first reading of a How To all grain site seemed pretty basic...add 160 degree water to the grain, let it sit, drain, sparge with 170 degree water, boil wort, add hops, etc.

Is it really as simple as the second example, or is it oversimplified to give an introduction? I don't want to buy a digital thermometer just to be able to measure my temp to within 1 degree instead of about 5. I wouldn't even know how to change it by a degree or two, anyway. Adjusting pH is pretty straightforward, and testing that is no big deal.
Don't get bogged down by the details. I guess I should have mentioned that. It really isn't that hard to brew AG, even my first time I was nervous (ended up 'crushing' my grain in a Cuisinart! ALL OF IT) but it still came out fantastic. So my point it you just have to take a deep breath and remember "if one man can do it, another man can", say it with me....
 

Donasay

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Moonshae said:
I've been thinking about giving AG a try, but now that I'm digging into How to Brew, I'm starting to think against it...water reports, temp control to within 2-3 degrees, pH levels...this seems unfortunately complex, especially since I filter my water, so a water report from the utility won't tell me anything about the water I use to brew.

My first reading of a How To all grain site seemed pretty basic...add 160 degree water to the grain, let it sit, drain, sparge with 170 degree water, boil wort, add hops, etc.

Is it really as simple as the second example, or is it oversimplified to give an introduction? I don't want to buy a digital thermometer just to be able to measure my temp to within 1 degree instead of about 5. I wouldn't even know how to change it by a degree or two, anyway. Adjusting pH is pretty straightforward, and testing that is no big deal.
There are all kinds of equations and such on the internet to help you figure out the temperature thing. Get a cooler and keep the grain at 155 for an hour then drain very very simple. Just make sure you buy a good thermometer, they usually cost around $20.

With regards to the Ph 5 star makes a ph 5.2 buffer a tablespoon of this will remove most of the worrys about your Ph levels. I personally don't know very much about my water, and don't muck around with adding extra salts and such just a scoop of the 5.2 and it comes out very well almost every time.
 

Moonshae

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This is much more comforting to know! I did some different searching and found some inexpensive digital thermometers like you describe.
 
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T-SULLI

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Thank you guys very much for the support... I think im going to do some more reading for a little while so when the time comes to make my 1st brew I will be comfortable. If there is anything you guys can think of that you didnt mention already I would love to hear it. Thanks again!!!:mug: :tank:
 

Donasay

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Yea, if you are going to buy a pot, you may as well get one that holds 15 or so gallons, because if you are going to go through the extra work of brewing all grain, you may as well start out by making 10 gallon batches.
 

njnear76

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Hey Yooper,

This is off topic, but I had a few questions that you might be able to answer since you do stovetop AG.

How powerful is your stove?
What kind of pot do you use?
How long does it take to reach a boil?
How much wort do you usually collect?

Thanks,
Mike
 

Beerthoven

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I started brewing with extract kits on my stove top. I knew about AG brewing from some brewing buddies, but I'm still glad I started with extract kits. I was able to learn about the process of brewing without getting lost in the details/mechanics of an AG brew day.

Now that I've made the move to AG, if I think something is wrong with my beer I know its NOT poor sanitation, slow wort chilling, bad yeast, lack of temperature control, oxidation, stuck ferment, bottle priming issues, etc. Its probably with the mash.

I think I went AG after 6 or 7 extract batches, and I still do the occasional extract batch (as seen in my sig). Some people start brewing successfully with AG, and in truth its not that hard. Its actually quite simple. So if thats what you want to do then more power to you and we'll be here to help. Just please understand that AG is undeniably more involved and prone to mistakes than extract brewing. Also know that AG beer is not automatically better than extract - it all depends on the brewer and the process. You can make damn fine beer with extract and crappy beer with grain.
 

Yooper

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njnear76 said:
Hey Yooper,

This is off topic, but I had a few questions that you might be able to answer since you do stovetop AG.

How powerful is your stove?
What kind of pot do you use?
How long does it take to reach a boil?
How much wort do you usually collect?

Thanks,
Mike
I have no idea how many IBUs that stove puts out, but I have one kick ass burner that even on low is too hot for most things. I can easily boil 6.5 gallons in a fairly short period of time, and keep it at a rolling boil. I use the turkey fryer pot (30 quart aluminum) and it comes to a boil pretty fast. I put my first runnings on to boil while I do the sparge. I boil about 6.00-6.25 gallons depending on how long my boil is (a 90 minute boil is 6.25 gallons for me). I have very little boil off inside.

I don't really know of anybody else that can do this inside- but my stove is NOT a commercial stove, just a really nice regular gas stove.
 

njnear76

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YooperBrew said:
I have no idea how many IBUs that stove puts out, but I have one kick ass burner that even on low is too hot for most things. I can easily boil 6.5 gallons in a fairly short period of time, and keep it at a rolling boil. I use the turkey fryer pot (30 quart aluminum) and it comes to a boil pretty fast. I put my first runnings on to boil while I do the sparge. I boil about 6.00-6.25 gallons depending on how long my boil is (a 90 minute boil is 6.25 gallons for me). I have very little boil off inside.

I don't really know of anybody else that can do this inside- but my stove is NOT a commercial stove, just a really nice regular gas stove.
Hmmm... Do you aim for 5.5 gallons in the carboy? I usually brew outside, but this might be a good alternative.

Thanks,
Mike
 

Yooper

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njnear76 said:
Hmmm... Do you aim for 5.5 gallons in the carboy? I usually brew outside, but this might be a good alternative.

Thanks,
Mike
Usually I aim for 5.25 gallons, unless I'm making something with a ton of hops in the secondary, and then I'll aim for 5.5 gallons.
 

njnear76

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YooperBrew said:
Usually I aim for 5.25 gallons, unless I'm making something with a ton of hops in the secondary, and then I'll aim for 5.5 gallons.
Thanks Yooper. I hope I can brew outside when I move to a townhouse, but it is good to know that AG can be done inside. Most likely, I would have to do two pots though since it most likely would be an electric range.
 

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njnear76 said:
Thanks Yooper. I hope I can brew outside when I move to a townhouse, but it is good to know that AG can be done inside. Most likely, I would have to do two pots though since it most likely would be an electric range.
And I did two pots for a while, too! Let me know when that happens, and I'll give you some pointers.
 

njnear76

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DeathBrewer said:
gas is key. mine's electric and it's a real PITA.
Yeah. I just hope I don't have to make beer on an electric range. Hopefully the wife and I can get a house instead of a townhouse. We battle the high home prices in NJ too. :mad: I want to stop using my brother-in-laws house for brewing. I feel like I over-stayed my welcome. Now that I switched to all-grain there is even more equipment over there.
 
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You should DEFINITELY try to find a brew-buddy who already does all grain brewing. I'm sure I could've muddled my way through it, but having a friend who had extensive experience with the hobby really helped me. I brewed a few extract + grain batches before making the switch to all grain, but I would've started with AG had I known the guy who taught me the process when I brewed my first batch.

Good luck!
 

njnear76

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YooperBrew said:
And I did two pots for a while, too! Let me know when that happens, and I'll give you some pointers.
Well I hope I never have to try it to be honest with you. :) I really like using my propane setup. I just don't know how that would work with neighbors in a townhouse environment.
 

njnear76

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T-SULLI said:
Well this is my first post so I guess I should introduce myself. My name is Tim and I live in Southern California. I look forward to speaking and learning from all of you.

Ok down to business... lol. I am new to home brewing although it seems like the past month I have been obsessed with wanting to get started. I have not done anything but sit at the computer and look up recipes, starter guides, techniques, and and of course all of the terminology.

After all of my searching I find myself wanting to jump directly into all grain brewing. Is that how any of you guys started? I think the reason for this is because I have always wanted to make my very own flavors of beer as im sure all of you take pride in. In order to do that and make it completely my own I would need to make my beer from scratch. Other wise I feel like I would be cheating.

Any way my question is do you guys think this may be an option? Or from you experience do you think I would be getting in way over my head? I look forward to hearing from all of you... :mug:
Sorry about hijacking your thread. I would do a couple extract with steeping grain recipes first. Definitely get a 9 gallon pot if you can. This is a good size for doing 5 gallon batches of All Grain.

The thing is that I think it makes sense to make sure that you like this hobby first. There are lots of of brewing equipment that only gets used a couple of times because people lose interest in the hobby. I would hate to see you invest too much money without knowing for sure.

Also I agree with everyone else who said that you should brew with an expert AG brewer. Bobby_M taught me and it cleared up a few questions that I had.
 

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T-SULLI,

Welcome!

I'm suprised no one mentioned the obvious answer. Find a home brew club! There are a number of homebrew clubs in the area. My club, Pacific Gravity, did a club brew Saturday, (I didn't attend) where they were going to do a PM class. In April(?) our associated LHBS is putting on an AG class. A club gives you a great opportunity to meet other brewers and learn from them.
 

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njnear76 said:
Well I hope I never have to try it to be honest with you. :) I really like using my propane setup. I just don't know how that would work with neighbors in a townhouse environment.
As long as you didn't leave it out in the yard, why should they care if it's out there for a couple hours while you're brewing? I'll bet some of them have their kids' toys scattered around, and that's no better...
 

njnear76

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Moonshae said:
As long as you didn't leave it out in the yard, why should they care if it's out there for a couple hours while you're brewing? I'll bet some of them have their kids' toys scattered around, and that's no better...
I suppose you are right. Thank you. I have a tendency to over-think this kind of stuff.
 

mrmuskie

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I was all grain from day one and ive never looked back.... and knock on wood no drain pours lol. Its all about fermentation. fermentation. and fermentation.
 

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HAVE NO FEAR!!!! I just started brewing and it seemed so complicated... till my first batch... It's not nearly as hard as it seems. If you can follow directions you can make beer. GOOD LUCK!
 

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I've never done any extract brewing. I like DIY stuff, so making my mash tun and other gadgets had me go all in with all grain. I've never looked back. You could always do a SMaSH recipe to keep your first brewday simple.
 

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I found that youtube videos were very helpful when I was learning how to AG brew. It is no replacement for the book previously mentioned but it is helpful to see others peoples system and see first hand how it works!
 
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