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Why not just start with all grain?

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beernutz

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I started all grain brewing my second batch--in 1992! That was without youtube videos, DVDs, or podcasts or an internet to learn from. My only resource was a copy of Papazian's book.

Before brewing at all I attended a 2 session homebrewing class at a local health food store that sold supplies. All grain wasn't even discussed.

Today with all the resources out there IMO there's no reason to not jump right into all grain.
 
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Crafty_Brewer

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Starting with all grain can be great. Many new brewers are likely intimidated by the information overload. We as brewers like to geek out on our setups and that is fine (and really fun), but sometimes we do new brewers a disservice by unintentionally making them think that shiny gear and a complicated process is necessary to make great beer. The extra equipment to go all grain can be as bare bones as a paint strainer bag and a thermometer (that’s where I started). Mashing is not much more complicated than making tea, unless you want it to be.
 

csample

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I am a new brewer (my first batch went into bottles last weekend). When I first thought of home brewing a google search brought me to Northern Brewer and of course I looked at their kit offerings and videos which directed my to start with extract and then step up to all grain later. All grain sounded really attractive, cheaper ingredients and more options, but just looking at the kits I got the idea that all grain was going to be really expensive and require lots of extra equipment. After more research I found that the only additional equipment required for all grain was a $30 bag and a $35 cooler converted to a mash tun. If the brew stores would offer this option in their kits I think more beginning brewers may chose to go this way.
 

Jako

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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? Why did you, or why do we have that thought?

Personally, I started with all grain in a 5 gallon kettle (like what you need for extracts). It's just how I learned/who taught me.. lol Curious to know what you guys know!
cost. i spent 230$ on a starting kit kettle and wort chiller and i had no idea if i would like it.

took me 3 batches to move to BIAB then BIAB to all grain. i will never go to BIAB just not my style of brewing i enjoy the process.
 

Crafty_Brewer

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cost. i spent 230$ on a starting kit kettle and wort chiller and i had no idea if i would like it.

took me 3 batches to move to BIAB then BIAB to all grain. i will never go to BIAB just not my style of brewing i enjoy the process.
BIAB is all grain, as is 3 vessel. Both are just different methods of separating the grains from the wort.
 

kartracer2

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At the risk of looking more foolish than I already do, if possible, what does PLETO stand for?
Ha @pc_trott you are not foolish. It's a (stupid?) acronym I came up with.
Partial boil, Late Extract addition, Top Off.
We all need more an acronyms right?
Cheers, :mug:
Joel B.

Edit, I tried to get steeping grains in there too some how but I couldn't make work. :rolleyes:
 
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NewJersey

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cost. i spent 230$ on a starting kit kettle and wort chiller and i had no idea if i would like it.

took me 3 batches to move to BIAB then BIAB to all grain. i will never go to BIAB just not my style of brewing i enjoy the process.
BIAB is all all grain. It's just skipping the sparge step and related equipment.
I started 3V and eventually realized that eBIAB was the final upgrade over 3V.
3V is just a dinosaur
 

Jako

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BIAB is all all grain. It's just skipping the sparge step and related equipment.
I started 3V and eventually realized that eBIAB was the final upgrade over 3V.
3V is just a dinosaur
i meant to type BIAB to 3V. sorry about that.

i am working on decoction mashing. could be done with BIAB but i am already neck deep.
 

pacman

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If you include time as a cost, then I think you've hit the nail on the head. In the beginning, it's good to make the process as simple and speedy as possible.

As for me, I got a Mr Beer for Christmas one year, and it worked so well for me, I've never looked much past it other than adding steeping grains to influence the beer's characteristics.

But now that I've tried it so many times, and I'm more willing and "adventurous" in experimenting with steeping grains, all-grain all of a sudden doesn't seem as intimidating/mysterious as it used to. And with the advent of BIAB, I'm seriously considering a batch of all-grain APA as a test. The bag isn't all that expensive for a try-out, and if I like the results... who knows? I might just stick with the AG BIAB. All I need to try it is the bag and an overhead hoist to get it out of the kettle.

Thanks to extract brewing, I already have everything else I need.
Do away with the hoist and use two or three smaller bags. Works brilliantly!
 

HectorJ

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$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.
Not bad, when I started out it didn't exist, so I had "fun" with a plastic bucket and an electric drill for about an hour..

I still have the plastic bucket setup somewhere. I imagine the bags do have to be replaced after a certain number of brews? So for economy, I would think the plastic buckets wins in the long run (I've done hundreds of brews with the bucket before switching to all stainless). But then it seems the bucket requires more process steps compared to the bag.
 

EthanH

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Not bad, when I started out it didn't exist, so I had "fun" with a plastic bucket and an electric drill for about an hour..

I still have the plastic bucket setup somewhere. I imagine the bags do have to be replaced after a certain number of brews? So for economy, I would think the plastic buckets wins in the long run (I've done hundreds of brews with the bucket before switching to all stainless). But then it seems the bucket requires more process steps compared to the bag.
Depends on what you mean by "long run". I just did my...50-something-th?...brew with the same bag.
 

HectorJ

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Depends on what you mean by "long run". I just did my...50-something-th?...brew with the same bag.
Long run, ie over the life of the vessel or bag.

I'm not saying one is better than the other, only that a single bucket system will likely last longer than the a single bag.
 

renstyle

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I look a brewing as 5 basic steps.
...
4. Fermentation
...
# 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.
This.

Extract attempts to minimize all of the other aspects of brewing (mash/wort/full-boil, possible exception being packaging) and allows you to focus on getting your FERMENTATION dialed in.

You'll still need to boil, but not necessarily as long, and the logistics of dealing with less than 5 gallons of wort is almost always easier than 5+

Packaging is what it is, be it bottles (more fiddley but lower up front cost) or keg. You'll have to deal with both fermentation and packaging with any beer you make, unless you're doing 1-step in a pressurized vessel and using it to serve as well LOL.

I say all of this, having starting out with a single extract batch which was bottled, then moving right into "mini AG" with a 5 gal round cooler for MAIB, Anvil 6.5, and keg fermenting.

As many others have said, you can do an extract kit on the stovetop with a sub-5gal pot, spoon, steeping grains bag, bucket+lid and a blow off tube.

Greetings from a fellow Iowan!
 
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mattdee1

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The question of whether to start with extract or all-grain does not have a straightforward answer, as there are several things to consider. A big one is that people have widely varying learning styles. Some people need to see and touch things to learn anything. Others do very well with wordy explanations and diagrams in books. Still others benefit from one-on-one instruction, etc. The further one is from being able to "learn by reading," the further they are from being a candidate for starting with all-grain, IMO. I say this because if you're not going to make it a pre-condition to actually read up and understand what you're doing before you start mashing grains, then you risk having a bad time and getting discouraged, so you might as well just do extract to offload as much of the process as possible to others. I suppose Youtube can help, but only if the video provides the right amount of information, because blindly following a bunch of dance steps from a youtube video is probably not a good approach for all grain either.

I've had a few people at work ask me about getting into brewing and I always tell them the same thing. Buy and read "How to Brew" before buying a single piece of gear. It might seem a bit tedious but I think it's the best approach for anybody serious about diving into this hobby. Worked for me, anyway.

Lack of information is no longer the problem. In 2020/2021, occasionally, the problem is too much information.
Without a doubt, this is true. If a complete newb were to read through the forum discussions here for a few hours, they'd leave with the impression that a few degrees variation in mash temperature will make the difference between thin, watery beer and undrinkable syrup.

I'm exaggerating a little bit, but the point is, lurking on a forum conversation between beer geeks can have the effect of throwing lots of small details into sharp relief, and it becomes unclear to the newcomer what specific points are most important for somebody to get started. To expand on my earlier example, the newcomer would do well to simply be happy landing within a 10 degree window of mash temps - say 148 to 158 - and move onto bigger things like sanitation, pitching healthy yeast, recipe selection, and maybe even fermentation temperature control. But this is not going to be remotely obvious at a glance.
 

New Brew

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For me, it is time, and having plenty to work out still in my downstream processes. Doing an AG or PM recipe adds almost 2 hours to my brew day, and often enough that's the difference between being able to get a batch in the fermentor, or not. Whether that's a limitation on my free time, or simply not being able to have primary uninterrupted use of our kitchen for that length of time.

For a beginner, there is definitely value in figuring out things like fermentation temp control, sanitation, yeast choice/management/pitching, hop schedule, etc before you add the variables inherent to mashing into the mix. And extract brewing often means those early batches can come at more frequent intervals, and yes, with less effort put into making a wort that may not turn into great beer due to other errors.

I agree that lack of information is not a barrier to AG brewing. But information is not the same as, or a substitute for, hands-on experience. At the end of the day, I'd never discourage someone who said, "I want to start with AG brewing". Go for it! But by the same token I'd never discourage or steer someone away from giving brewing a try with extract.
 

D.B.Moody

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you can do an extract kit on the stovetop with a sub-5gal pot, spoon, steeping grains bag, bucket+lid and a blow off tube.
And you don't have to progress to AG. Think of the extra space involved. (The same goes for kegging. Or producing good, real lagers.) And actually a couple of my favorite extract recipes don't even involve steeping any grains. And I've never used (or needed) a blow off tube. Only one of my 273 brews over 25+ years was from a kit. I suggest starting simple and seeing if you want to take it further. :)
 
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Brewshna

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possibly, don't thinks there's that many home Brewers here. too in love with the local beer, which is good bout boring to me.
 
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I started with extract & steeping grains and our pasta pot on the stove. I did start with 1 gallon batches, but rapidly moved up to 5 gallon. The beer was better than my experience 20 years ago with a Mr. Beer kit (oof, not good). Like many, I started to change the process one step at a time, which led to all-grain, and better temperature control, and now I am kegging. I also moved from the kitchen (after the last time I splashed wort on the ceiling and the walls), onto the porch (too windy most days), and now in the garage/driveway.

Read and study what other people have done, see if something works for you, test it, keep it or throw it out, and be happy that you are making your beer, your way. I love the creativity and freedom I get from all-grain, but that's not everyone, nor should it be.

Oh, and before I forget. Clean. Always. In between every step. Everything. Clean it again. Did I say clean it? Yeah, do that. Wait, one more time, clean it again.
 
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Snuffy

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If I had started reading here before I ever brewed a batch, extract or otherwise, I think it may have confused me a bit about how complicated home brewing would be. Starting off with extract and getting a few successes under your belt is a great hook for the hobby. With extract, if you can measure water, you have your OG w/o a lot of fuss and you can run with it and dial in your process on the fermentation end. With that said, I think my favorite brewday ever was that first all-grain mash with my first M&B. When that IPA came out great, I think I realized I was really brewing. The idea I could get that much sugar by steeping friggin' grass seeds was amazing to me. But I wouldn't trade the experience and know how I got from extract brewing for anything. Those were good beers. My advice would definitely be - get a couple of buckets, a pot, a spoon, save bottles, order an extract kit and brew the crap out of it. Then move to mini mash and then invest in more gear for all-grain if the bug bites.

Nothing amuses me more than watching two brew nerds trying to one-up each other with technical jargon and rocket science. Don't be distracted by people who scoff at certain methods. Nothing beats experience. Get that. Brew the best you can with the stuff you got. Then follow the progression as far as your wallet and personal relationships will allow. Good beer is good beer. Period. You don't want to be that guy trying to sell 1200 bucks worth of gear for 200 bucks cause he jumped straight in the deep end and then decided it wasn't as fun as he thought it would be.
 

mashpaddled

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I think a lot of this has to do with your frame of reference starting out. If you do a lot of hands on food-related hobbies/chores/etc. then jumping right into all grain wouldn't be a big intellectual jump. I cooked a bit when I started brewing and remembered being terrified I was going to screw up my first few extract batches with any slight error. I did screw up my first all grain batch with a surprisingly small oversight but I think if I had tried to get into all grain right from the start I might have felt overwhelmed and not taken on the hobby.
 

hout17

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I've had some good extract brews it saved time and cleanup. For me personally to move to all grain would include adjusting my water as well. I finally did it on Monday adjusted my water, mashed and sparged (checked ph in the mash after 20 minutes hit 5.35 was aiming for 5.38). Now it's bubbling away in the fermenter.

Brew on!
 

BrewZer

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You wouldn't believe it, but I live in Munich Germany, there's not one home brew store.
If I lived in Munich, I have no doubt I wouldn't bother to homebrew.

That'd be like living next door to Willy Wonka and trying to make my own candy.
 

BrewZer

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Sure, if you're hankering for a delicious golden lager. But I'm sure a proper cask bitter, oatmeal stout, or NEIPA is not as forthcoming. There's always a reason to make your own!
But when would I have time to try those other styles?

With all the variations on lagers, marzens, weissbiers and dunkels, I'd be too "busy" (read: drunk) to get to them!
 
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