all grain or extract?

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by Acrid, Jan 20, 2014.

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  1. Acrid

    Acrid Initiate (0) Dec 15, 2013 California

    New to home brewing, and don't wanna get in over my head too fast. Would an all grain be too complicated for a beginner.? Or is extract be a better starter?
  2. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Grand Pooh-Bah (3,226) May 21, 2010 Texas

    based on your question, do this...

    obtain and read how to brew

    start with extract brewing.

    I highly recommend a VERY simple extract brew as your first brew. I have brewed beers using nothing but liquid or dry extract plus a few ounces of hops and dry yeast and gotten very tasty beer as the results.

    keys to brewing:

    fermentation temperature control
    yeast pitching temperature
    full boils
    reasonably quick cooling times
    KISS methodology and recipes
    JrGtr likes this.
  3. VikeMan

    VikeMan Pooh-Bah (2,993) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania

    Most people start with extract. It's simpler, so there's less to worry about at first. I switched to all grain on my third batch, and while I guess I was glad to have had an extract and a mini-mash under my belt at the time, I did get stuck with the woefully small kettle that I had bought with the extract starter kit. It's still in the basement collecting dust. So my advice would be...even if you start out brewing extract, buy a big (7.5 gallons minimum) kettle.
  4. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Grand Pooh-Bah (3,226) May 21, 2010 Texas

    Agreed. Many of us use turkey fryers, which have enough heat to boil a full batch plus a big enough pot to do so.
    JrGtr likes this.
  5. mikehartigan

    mikehartigan Maven (1,377) Apr 9, 2007 Illinois

    Start with extract. You'll familiarize yourself with the brewing process while you read and talk to others about all-grain options. You'll be better prepared to design and buy your mash setup later on.
  6. JohnSnowNW

    JohnSnowNW Initiate (0) Feb 6, 2013 Minnesota

    Just to echo others:

    1. Read How to Brew
    2. Start with Extract
    3. Buy the biggest pot you can afford...taking into account heating and cooling.
  7. firstthenlast

    firstthenlast Initiate (0) Nov 25, 2013 Massachusetts

    Start with extract for sure!

    I am in the definite minority of people who started all grain, but that was simply because my brew partner had brewing for a while already and I learned from him. I don't think anyone would ever recommend starting all grain. The science behind brewing is simple, but do not underestimate the complexity of executing a good brew, especially all grain. Do an extract brew and see what you think, no extract brewing gear would be obsolette when you switch to all grain.
  8. ventura78

    ventura78 Pundit (960) Nov 22, 2003 Massachusetts

    I would recommend starting all grain if you can watch someone do it once or twice before hand. Having a copy of how to brew is always handy too. I friend of mine came over to watch me brew an 18 gallon batch a while ago, after which he went out and bought all the equipment I have. On his first brew day I came over to help fire things off: now he's brewing 40 gallon batches at a time.
  9. JrGtr

    JrGtr Pooh-Bah (1,639) Apr 13, 2006 Massachusetts

    What they all said.
    While people have started straight out with all-grain, I don't recommend it, unless you are part of a homebrew club and watch (and help) people brew before going on your own, and then have them watch and help you out.
    There is so much to learn and remember when brewing, that adding the extra steps for all-grain, while not difficult in themselves, throws that much more to a new brewer, and that much more that can go wrong, that many more opportunities for error, that many more steps to forget something.
    Once you have the basics of down of extract brewing, (having specialty grains in the mix isn;t bad; those just sit in hot water like tea) then moving on to all grain is the way to go.
    Personally, when I went AG, after a dozen or so extract brews, I did a couple of 1-gallon all-grain brews to get the hang of it before going full size.
  10. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Grand Pooh-Bah (3,212) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    I recommend starting with extract. Mashing is its own process that brings its own iissues. With extract that step has been taken care of for you, by professional brewers even! Use the extract batches to get control of your boil process, your sanitation process, your bottling process etc. The other benefit of going extract first is that if you don't enjoy brewing, you're not out as much money as you would be if you started all grain. I know a lot of people who have tried brewing and didn't enjoy it for one reason or another. Better to be out a little money than a lot.
  11. drye_hopped

    drye_hopped Initiate (0) Jan 8, 2014 Canada (BC)

    All sage advice, but I don't understand the general hesitancy to start with all grain, especially if you plan to do it down the road.. That being said, I just purchased all of my all grain brewing equipment (for 5 gal batches) a couple weeks ago but have yet to actually start brewing (work, university getting in the way). I've watched a good number of brewing videos, read a good portion of How To Brew, and asked fellow homebrewers many questions. I know it won't be easy but I wouldn't want to start any other way.
  12. jeffjeff1

    jeffjeff1 Initiate (0) Jun 6, 2009 California

    I brew extract but eventually I would like to make the move to all grain. All grain is what the microbreweries do so I would like to try it.
  13. basscram

    basscram Initiate (0) Mar 29, 2006 Maine

    extract with specialty grains. That's how I learned the process but you know what.. take a chance with any process you decide to go with be it total extract, extract with specialty grains, biab, partial mash etc. Do whatever you feel confident doing and there are lots of people here who can answer every question you may have so your never really alone.
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