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Why not just start with all grain?

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kartracer2

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I look a brewing as 5 basic steps.
1. Equipment Set up / prep
2. Wort prep
3. Boil
4. Fermentation
5. Package
Oh yeah I guess 6, ENJOY the above work.
There are many branches off each of the above.
Extract makes the first 2 less time consuming and arguably less expensive. also less complicated.
As far as boil, full boils, again arguably better but extract you can do partial boils w/smaller pot & heat source.
# 4 to me is the most important in making good tasting beer. Getting this part right makes or breaks a lot of beers no matter how you get to this step.
Packaging, again, a time / space / money issue. It makes little difference how you got to this point.
All said, I extract brew (PLETO method) and I'm working on improving #4 right now. Once I get that dialed in I MIGHT change up #1 & 2. (I doubt it though. #5 will probably change first as I still bottle))
(Side note, my last brew went 3 hrs and that's equip. cleaned up and put away. )
Bottom line? Do what you can do with the space, time, $$$ you have. (Oh, and desire)
Cheers and brew on. :mug:
Joel B.
 

Surly

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I look a brewing as 5 basic steps.
1. Equipment Set up / prep
2. Wort prep
3. Boil
4. Fermentation
5. Package
Oh yeah I guess 6, ENJOY the above work.
There are many branches off each of the above.
Extract makes the first 2 less time consuming and arguably less expensive. also less complicated.
As far as boil, full boils, again arguably better but extract you can do partial boils w/smaller pot & heat source.
# 4 to me is the most important in making good tasting beer. Getting this part right makes or breaks a lot of beers no matter how you get to this step.
Packaging, again, a time / space / money issue. It makes little difference how you got to this point.
All said, I extract brew (PLETO method) and I'm working on improving #4 right now. Once I get that dialed in I MIGHT change up #1 & 2. (I doubt it though. #5 will probably change first as I still bottle))
(Side note, my last brew went 3 hrs and that's equip. cleaned up and put away. )
Bottom line? Do what you can do with the space, time, $$$ you have. (Oh, and desire)
Cheers and brew on. :mug:
Joel B.
Hehee....I have turned my, "brew day" into two partial days and one long one. That is the advantage of being retired.
 

Brews and Blues

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I have done 6 extract kits now. Every kit I do, I love the hobby more.
1st batch was a gift - a one gallon IPA. Turned out good but I drank it in a weekend LOL.
Then did 2 - 5 gallon kits. Had a baby, lost all of my time for a bit, and fell out of it.
Now I have done 3 more extract kits. Every kit a different style just to learn a bit about each beer. Each brew I document better. I measure better. I added a keg system. I have simplified my equipment.
For me, the extract kits have been a lot of fun. If i would have read a book on all-grain before ever brewing a batch, I think that I would have never done it. It just seems complicated on paper. But the kit really made me feel like I could do it. Now i am reading How To Brew and visit this forum daily just to soak it in.

I have a planned mapped out in my head now for my brewing hobby:
2020 - Get my process down perfectly - from cleaning, to brewing, to fermenting, to kegging - by doing at least 6 more extract kits.
2021 - Begin to dabble into partial mash/all grain as I begin to assemble the equipment. This way I have 75% of my brew day down pat before I add another element in the mash.

Also mixed in there, I would like to replicate one of these kits just to see how good my process and note taking is.
 

NewJersey

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This long time brewer looks at brewing beer as a hobby with stellar rewards. It is not just a, "brew day" for me. It is a process from deciding the style I want to drink to final packaging.

I continue to advise new brewers to start out with an extract or two. From there one begins to learn basic processes that are carried forward. One such has been key to my enjoyment. Planning the next stage of my brewery and then the gear I need to expand to that level. "Ah, yes, I need this gear before my next expansion. And, what must I learn for the next stage?"

Moving from the kitchen with five gallon batches to outdoors with a turkey fryer brewing 10 gallon batches. From gravity feed to pumps on a single tier 10 gallon converted keg system. Then planning my standalone brewery with expansion to 15.5 gallon capacity.

I am currently redesigning that single tier to adapt to my changing needs. I want a CIP brewery. Fifteen years into the hobby with my 71st birthday approaching new considerations begin. As lifting becomes an issue, as I move from the country to a smaller domicile in the city what will my brewery look like?

This adventure is too good for me to end. And just as the beginning must work for us so does the end. Have fun and enjoy.
How do you get rid of a 1/2bbl of beer???!?
 
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my brewing hobby has gone much like @Surly only i am at 10 years in the hobby and (no offense) half the age. i have helped people get started brewing and all of them have started with extract. for me i feel like its a good place to start to see if its a hobby your going to enjoy or not. personally i was hooked right from go, but i have had friends try it out and have since dropped out of the hobby. i went from extract to all grain after about 6 months and never looked back. i have nothing against extract brewing i just thoroughly enjoy the process of mashing and everything that goes into it. I am glad i started with extract as it may have been overwhelming for me had i tried all grain first.
 

OldDogBrewing

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I started with all grain, first beers weren't great but you have to do things to learn them
 

kgav8r

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I’m pretty new to brewing having only been in it for 2.5 years. It started with memories of brewing with my father about 10 years prior. I knew he didn’t use the equipment so he was happy to unload it on me. A 5gal carboy, 3gal kettle, air locks and 48 really heavy duty bottles (amazing how thin they’ve gotten!). It was all overwhelming, so I chose an extract kit for my first. I didn’t want to invest a lot.
I did not understand all-grain, I hadn’t finished the book, and I wanted to brew as quick as possible. I was meticulous about sanitation and my first batch turned out great. I was hooked. After 3 more batches, I looked at ways to improve and make more. My wife had requested a blue moon and every extract clone kit was awful. This is what really pushed me to exploring all grain. I was prepared to lay down some cash on a 3V system but then stumbled upon BIAB. Keeping it low cost and indoors, I now do all grain in 2.5gal half batches and still paints in low cost. I really had to get there myself. All grain just sounds so complicated especially with different mash types, German words for the processes, it’s just a lot. Had I known about BIAB going in, I may have started there. I can actually do a nice wheat beer with about 10lbs grain that yields 4gals into the fermenter which I top up to 5gals and still hit 1.053SG. My wife loves it and most of my “Bud Lite only Cousins” actually drink it.
I think it’s a process for everyone and going extract in the beginning is a good, cheap gauge of how much you want to get into the craft. I still have no intentions of going to a 3V system. I may go to a bigger kettle some day. I brewed 4 batches 3 months ago. That was a 10hour day.
 
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TheAlien121

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  • How to Brew (4e) chapter 1 talks about extract+steep for one's first brew day. Read the chapter and start brewing.
  • Speed Brewing chapters 1 & 2 does the same for BAIB with a 2 gal batch targeting a 1.75 gal keg.
I haven't (yet) seen the same for 5 gal BIAB batches.

One can certainly, with enough time, piece together the process for a 5 gal BIAB batch on "day one".

But the strength of the above approaches is that it is a low cost way to try out the "hobby".
Right on, I started with 1.5 gallon batch. It was just in a 5 gallon soup pot lol.. In that regard, the cost was very similar to an extract kit that I could have bought.

Also, I just had a good educator there to help..
 
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TheAlien121

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Money. Extract is a lot cheaper to try before dumping a few hundred in AG equipment.
Sure, but you still need some sort of pot/kettle for extract.. Why not just put grain in a bag and toss it in? lol That's exactly how I learned, 4lbs of grain in a bag instead of pouring in syrup
 
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TheAlien121

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I look a brewing as 5 basic steps.
1. Equipment Set up / prep
2. Wort prep
3. Boil
4. Fermentation
5. Package
Oh yeah I guess 6, ENJOY the above work.
There are many branches off each of the above.
Extract makes the first 2 less time consuming and arguably less expensive. also less complicated.
As far as boil, full boils, again arguably better but extract you can do partial boils w/smaller pot & heat source.
# 4 to me is the most important in making good tasting beer. Getting this part right makes or breaks a lot of beers no matter how you get to this step.
Packaging, again, a time / space / money issue. It makes little difference how you got to this point.
All said, I extract brew (PLETO method) and I'm working on improving #4 right now. Once I get that dialed in I MIGHT change up #1 & 2. (I doubt it though. #5 will probably change first as I still bottle))
(Side note, my last brew went 3 hrs and that's equip. cleaned up and put away. )
Bottom line? Do what you can do with the space, time, $$$ you have. (Oh, and desire)
Cheers and brew on. :mug:
Joel B.
Bro.. Just looking at how you responded, tells me that you have more than what you need kick off the training wheels.. haha You're very proceduralized and systematic, which tells me you can't make bad beer. Just go to all grain!

Happy brewing man!
 
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TheAlien121

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I have done 6 extract kits now. Every kit I do, I love the hobby more.
1st batch was a gift - a one gallon IPA. Turned out good but I drank it in a weekend LOL.
Then did 2 - 5 gallon kits. Had a baby, lost all of my time for a bit, and fell out of it.
Now I have done 3 more extract kits. Every kit a different style just to learn a bit about each beer. Each brew I document better. I measure better. I added a keg system. I have simplified my equipment.
For me, the extract kits have been a lot of fun. If i would have read a book on all-grain before ever brewing a batch, I think that I would have never done it. It just seems complicated on paper. But the kit really made me feel like I could do it. Now i am reading How To Brew and visit this forum daily just to soak it in.

I have a planned mapped out in my head now for my brewing hobby:
2020 - Get my process down perfectly - from cleaning, to brewing, to fermenting, to kegging - by doing at least 6 more extract kits.
2021 - Begin to dabble into partial mash/all grain as I begin to assemble the equipment. This way I have 75% of my brew day down pat before I add another element in the mash.

Also mixed in there, I would like to replicate one of these kits just to see how good my process and note taking is.
My man. Woah. There is no way you can fail at all thinking like that. Seriously. You can NOT fail with a mentality like that. Beer is very resilient to minor mistakes and you sound like you won't make any mistakes.

You answered my initial question with a resounding, "I should own a brewery! But I'ma hang out in the beginners circle for 2 years.."

Why bro? lol
 
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TheAlien121

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Started with BIAB, moved on to mash tun and various ways of sparging, now have gone back to BIAB and last night did my first DME/Steeping grain batch w/30 min boil, so I guess I'm proceeding backwards......
I see it the other way around.. Extracts are like a quick little cheat code when you don't want to have a long brew session.. lol Once you know how to brew, you're just cutting some time
 

acrowe

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Extract can work really well and make good beer that is a pleasure to drink. I think if that is your first goal extract is a great place to start. If you are already interested in the process of making beer I think there is no reason not to start with all grain.
 

BrewnWKopperKat

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I guess I'm proceeding backwards......
Honestly, it depends on the forum one participates in.

Some forums can get can get derogatory with their analogies.

Other forums "embrace and extend" all the ingredients and all the techniques.

For example: Bottling no-boil extract-based NEIPAs? Great ideas both here and at /r/homebrewing. May the best (and perhaps the most friendly) forum win!
 
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bobtheUKbrewer2

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Money. Extract is a lot cheaper to try before dumping a few hundred in AG equipment. ATLBEER
I purchased two Burco boilers 25 years ago. A large BIAB bag 5 years ago cost £13.
So the money side is not worth worrying about, considering the savings over shop bought beers.
 

Zolet

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Here in Brazil we simply do not have extract available. Sometimes brewshops try to sell it but prices are not competitive at all and because they are all imported they suffer quality decay due to the logistics or even because they tend to "accumulate dust" at brewshop shelf.

Few times I tried to used extract results were bad. Oxidized flavor from day one just to point one issue I had.

So we have no alternative but start with all grain.

I heard that in US you have good variety of fresh extracts available at low prices, so I would say the entry barrier is very low when compared to all grain.

I read that someone cited prices and I agree with that, using my regional experience as comparative.

I would add "time" as well. Compared to all grain (6-8hours) using extracts are way less painful, specially cleaning everything up after brewing day :).
 

bwible

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I have noticed that a common thought within the brewing community is that we should/just do start with extracts.. I'm just curious of why?
In days gone by, some of it was equipment needed and cost of the equipment needed.

First you bought your kit with the buckets, airlocks, capper and tubing. Then your first big purchase was and still should be a large quality stainless steel pot. Then a wort chiller and even the chiller was a purchase many of us put off. With this equipment you could brew extract even without a chiller and they told us we could cool it in the sink. They used to even sell extract kits that were pre-hopped per style - red ale kit or whatever.

If you wanted to do all grain in the days before brew in a bag, you had to buy or build a mash tun. Then you want your own mill so you can grind your own grain. Everybody was revolving around 3 vessel systems. Many were looking at 3 vessel systems made from old kegs and again drooling over shiny equipment. Then a kegging setup is another big investment.

So some of it was definitely cost, as people weren’t jumping in with both feet and spending $1000 for everything on day 1. From that perspective, brew in a bag is a game changer,

And as others have said, learning curve.
 
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bwible

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Interesting take. I started brewing 5 gallon, went up to 10, and finally have settled at 5 again. For the time and effort involved I wouldn't want any less than 5 gallons per batch. Also the rate at which my wife and I (and friends here and there) consume it makes 5 gallons about perfect.
The small batch has always confused me as much as the guys who are homebrewing 30 gallon batches. What are they doing with all that beer???
Everyone's situation is different I guess.
I started with 5 gallons like everybody else. Quickly realized its too much beer because I am the only person in my house drinking it. We have very few beer drinking friends and rarely have parties. When we do, everybody drinks vodka, rum, or Truly. There is a low carb following everywhere, many people swear by Keto and Atkins.

I switched to 3 gallon batches. I keg and I bottle. I have a combination of 3 gallon kegs, a couple 5 gallon kegs, mostly 12 oz bottles and a couple cases of 16 oz bottles. I have a kegerator that holds 3 cornies with taps for 2 and a beer fridge.

3 gallons works out to about a case plus a 6 pack. I find 3 gallons to be a good compromise. I’m not brewing a gallon at a time but not 2 cases plus at a time either. I like variety so by brewing 6 batches I can have 2 on draft and 4 in bottles and have all different beers and not having it sit for so long it goes bad. And that many is arguably still alot of beer for one person.

A side benefit to smaller batches is that all the containers are smaller and lighter. Many of us are getting older.

You are right, I don’t understand the guys brewing 20 or 30 gallon batches unless they are brewing to supply the local VFW or something. That’s alot of beer.
 
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Nagorg

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I have to say that I cut my teeth with a couple cans of Mr. Beer LME, a 2Qt. Pot and an LBK. Super simple, cheap and I was hooked at the first signs of fermentation. I'm not so sure I would have been so eager to dive into what I saw as a complicated process at the time.

It wasnt long before I moved to AG but I do remember having fun with the kits. So if you ask me, I think its a great way for someone to find out if this is something for them or not and learn a lot along the way.
 

pc_trott

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there is something called the "curse of knowledge" that may be a factor...
Don't knock the "curse of knowledge." As a recently retired technical writer, it kept me employed for 40 years.

I started brewing with extracts because my wife bought me a complete brewing kit from Northern Brewers for Christmas 2019. She knew I was a cheapskate and would never take the plunge myself. I have brewed 15 extract brews so far, and my price per brew is $1.61/bottle at this point. I've done some calculations, and the I think the lowest I can go (the price/bottle shrinks with every brew, as long as I don't spend money on new equipment) is about $.64/bottle. (Shipping keeps me from getting down to $.49/bottle; the curse of living in the boonies.) I have not made what I would call a "bad" batch yet (knock on wood). But, of course, on the other hand I've never made a "great" batch. But, being a cheapskate and also having other hobbies that keep me busy, I expect I'll be brewing extracts and enjoying it until the good lord weens me of drinking beer altogether.
 

bracconiere

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and i still am wondering why people spend a fortune on malt? lol ;) malting really isn't hard, but most people prefer to have it done for them..

edit: (it took me a while because all the stuff i saw looked hard at first, when i had to, i figured out how to make it easy. laugh at all the complicated stuff now!)

good lord weens me of drinking beer altogether.

damn, at that point i'd say it'd be time for a faith change! :mug:
 
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EthanH

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and i still am wondering why people spend a fortune on malt? lol ;) malting really isn't hard, but most people prefer to have it done for them..

edit: (it took me a while because all the stuff i saw looked hard at first, when i had to, i figured out how to make it easy. laugh at all the complicated stuff now!)




damn, at that point i'd say it'd be time for a faith change! :mug:
You should make a post about it. My biggest inhibitor is not finding a source of unmalted barley significantly cheaper than malted barley. Second biggest inhibitor is not having a big enough stove.
 

bracconiere

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You should make a post about it
it was my first, and the only reason i joined the forum....


i think it was post #456 page 12....then people started cussing at me in other threads, and i got hooked! now i don't shut up! ;) :mug:
 

bracconiere

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.just happened across this thread google searching for a better way of deculming than the bucket to bucket method.
better for how did you find HBT....


My biggest inhibitor is not finding a source of unmalted barley significantly cheaper than malted barley.
i've got 2 local feed stores that carry whole barley...and one that would order it for me... $12.99 for a 50lb sack, gets me 40lb's of malt...there's a couple corn kernels in it, and ocassionally some millet...but i think being that it goes from kiln to mash tun the same day, i think it tastes maltier. i sent some off to a review board for a second opinion. said it was great and malty, waiting for a bottle sent back to me, to see if they're worried about hurting my feelings and just blowing smoke up my ass....lol
 

bracconiere

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and i can do a 20lb batch in my slide in oven, enough for a 10 gallon batch...but it only goes down to 170f, which actually creeps up to 200f...and you'll want to modify it to go lower because allthough, 100% munich beer is good, it gets boring after a few years, lol
 

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I started with all grain. I got a together with my two brothers and a friend, we aleach put 300€ in a pot and bought an all in one system with all the equipment. Just went all in, wanted to do it properly or not at al. only been at it for 6 months, but never regreted it, sofar. love the endless possibilities, which are sometimes daunting. but also love the hunt for information and great brewing communities online. You wouldn't believe it, but I live in Munich Germany, there's not one home brew store.
 

HectorJ

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Money. Extract is a lot cheaper to try before dumping a few hundred in AG equipment.
This is true. It's like a lot of "hobbies", you never buy the most expensive bicycle when starting out, because you don't know if you will keep riding and don't want to take a bath on it .

Some people say that people used to get into brewing their own beer because it was supposed to be cheaper (haha, right) and because the homebrew was infinitely better than what the mainstream brewers were offering (likely).

Granted, you can do all grain "on the cheap" if you invest in a plastic mash/lauter tun (cooler or bucket with 1000 holes) and a single stainless kettle rather than all stainless. (I've never done BIAB, so don't know the costs, it appeared long after I had already heavily invested in All Stainless...)
 

BrewnWKopperKat

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I've never done BIAB, so don't know the costs
(responding to the topic at large based on your reply)

How to Brew, 4e
has a couple of chapters that cover equipment for 5 gal brewing. Speed Brewing has similar information for 2.5 gal (or less) BIAB.

It's likely that there is similar information (for free) in blog posts (older topics here at HBT, ...). The information may also be "build in" to the kits that people start with.

I haven't seen an equipment list for 5 gal BIAB (yet) - but 5 gal brewing seems to have more "engineering problems" than small batch (2.5 gal or less) brewing.
 

bleme

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(I've never done BIAB, so don't know the costs, it appeared long after I had already heavily invested in All Stainless...)
$25 for a 10 gallon tamale pot and $37 for a Wilser Bag.

Edit: The hop boil bag included in that set gets a lot more use at my house as a cold brew coffee filter.
 
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amber-ale

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Money. Extract is a lot cheaper to try before dumping a few hundred in AG equipment. ATLBEER
I purchased two Burco boilers 25 years ago. A large BIAB bag 5 years ago cost £13.
So the money side is not worth worrying about, considering the savings over shop bought beers.
you dont need a few hundred $$ to start all grain. you also dont need exotic equipement.
If someone is just starting out USE HALF SIZE RECIPES.
2.5 G recipes fit into typical sized soup pots, on the stove. use a net bag (BIAB) and chill in the sink.
 

kartracer2

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Bro.. Just looking at how you responded, tells me that you have more than what you need kick off the training wheels.. haha You're very proceduralized and systematic, which tells me you can't make bad beer. Just go to all grain!
@TheAlien121 , I don't look at extract as just training wheels. I have no qualms that I "could" do AG, I just don't feel I "need" to make that step. Sure, a lot of newbies start with (extract) and move on to bigger and better (?) ways to brew. Some of us still like a quick, no fuss brew day and end up with drinkable beer.
I'm a box cake / jar of pasta sauce kind of guy for the most part. Trust me though, I have my anal moments (LOL) but those are areas that you might be flippy about, (ie. IF I let you use a tool of mine, it better get put back where it belongs and clean, Yeah I'm big on that one.). We all have you reasons for what we do and how it gets done. I am, for the first time, reuseing a yeast slurry and it's working but not quite like I hoped or wished. I think I know why but that's what I'm talking about where a brewer can make or break a beer. I feel that part of brewing is more important than "how" you make the wort.
If I would ever win a boat load of money I would put on an addition to the living shack dedicated to brewing and all things beer. It would would be AG electric, vent hood, a wall of coolers for all the various needs, well lit and spacious. While I'm (not) holding my breath I will just go ahead and do my PLETO and burp with the rest of you guys virtually. (LOL) In the end it's all good if the beers good, at least drinkable.
Cheers and brew on !. :mug:
Joel B.
 

kgav8r

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you dont need a few hundred $$ to start all grain. you also dont need exotic equipement.
If someone is just starting out USE HALF SIZE RECIPES.
2.5 G recipes fit into typical sized soup pots, on the stove. use a net bag (BIAB) and chill in the sink.
I do not disagree with this. I have expended considerable effort on keeping things cheap. Looking at it from a beginner's perspective (and in particular, mine) there is A LOT of information out there. It can be overwhelming and difficult to decipher. I consider myself technologically savvy, but knowing which guide, which advice, or what online shop to use is hard. Some don't have a LHBS, I know we didn't until shortly after I began. I didn't even know what BIAB meant much less how simple and cheaply it could be done. In my quest for that perfect Blue Moon clone, I stumbled upon a thread in which all recipes were all-grain, so I knew that is how I'd have to go. One in particular mentioned BIAB which forced me into researching what it was and how to do it. My goodness, after doing it that way, I was shocked and wondered why it isn't promoted more. As for doing 2.5 gallons at a time, given the choice I think a person is more likely to brew 5 gallons over 2.5 gallons if the end result with the same effort is more beer. 30 beers doesn't last long at my house.

Again, I think it's almost a natural progression due to the way kits are put out. How many BIAB all inclusive starter kits are there? I think if more folks were introduced to all-grain through BIAB starter kits, it would be more prevalent.
 
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