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From basic brew kit to all-grain brewing

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by MetalMountainMastiff, Jan 30, 2013.

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  1. MetalMountainMastiff

    MetalMountainMastiff Initiate (0) Oct 1, 2012 California
    Beer Trader

    I've wanted to step up to all grain brewing, and every book I have says multiple times its not as hard as you'd think. So what are people's experiences with entering into the world of all-grain brewing from a simpler style?
  2. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Initiate (0) May 21, 2010 Texas

    The hardest part is coming up with a mash tun. I built one for about fidy-somethin' bucks. Other than that, it's not that big a deal. You'll save money on ingredients, which will sooner or later offset the costs.

    If you have solid technique with extract or partial mash, you should be able to convert without too much worry.

    My first all grain batch wasn't quite what I expected, but it came out quite tasty anyway. Chances are you'll do fine if you convert.
  3. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,061) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    This video may be helpful to you:
    psnydez86 and JimSmetana like this.
  4. OddNotion

    OddNotion Devotee (478) Nov 1, 2009 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    I would recommend extract for the first few batches just to get technique down and so you can look back on your process to pinpoint any flaws easier. After that, build/buy a mash tun and you are good to go. I like AG brewing so much better than extract but that is not to say extract cannot make excellent beers.
  5. DAllspaw

    DAllspaw Initiate (0) Nov 7, 2009 Indiana

    Great advice from all above. I would further reinforce that you must first get very comfortable with extract, get your technique down (yeast starters, setup/sanitation, boil, chill, aeration and especially fermentation temperature control). It took me 3 batches to fully appreciate the importance of aeration and termperature control. Then I applied those techniques for 3 very nice extract beers and just today moved my first AG beer to secondary, and am very pleased with initial sample. Palmer's book is great for providing a step by step walkthrough (chapter 19 I believe). Read that several times before you start, and above video is good as well.

    What amazed me most was the aroma from the fresh wort, really nice. It also didn't take as long as expected. If you're using steeping grains now for 20-30 minutes, mashing and batch sparging doesn't take that much longer.
  6. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,343) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Since you say 'step up' it sounds like you have the basics down already. If that's the case, and assuming you've been doing full wort boils (i.e. already have a large kettle and a way to get it to a boil), then a mash tun is really the only new piece of equipment you'll need. You don't necessarily need a grain mill right away...you can buy your grains pre-milled.

    Read the all grain Chapter at www.howtobrew.com .

    Go to the Bru'nwater site to learn about water chemistry, though you can probably safely defer that until later, assuming your water isn't too extreme.
  7. TheMonkfish

    TheMonkfish Initiate (0) Jan 8, 2012 Chad

    Brew in a bag was a way for me to try out AG. I was able to try out all grain brewing without having to invest in a MLT (just a $8 piece of window curtain from Wal-Mart and my wife sewing it up and I was off and running.

    As above there's absolutely nothing wrong with extract brewing, but for me I really love how much more "in tune" it made me feel with the resulting beer. I was really sheepish about going AG but looking back there was absolutely nothing to be worried about. You can make it as simple or as complex as you want. Plus I save a ton of $ buying grain in bulk.
  8. marquis

    marquis Crusader (741) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    Just remember that once practically every farmhouse brewed quite acceptable beer using the most rudimentary equipment and basic hygiene.Some would have been a bit strange but as beer became the drink of choice it must have turned out OK most of the time.
    So, given that unlike those in the past you have a wealth of information , modern technology and sanitisation chemicals all to hand there shouldn't be many if any problems.
    My mantra is keep it simple and keep it to modest strength.Simple because it's easier to analyse the result and better plan the next brew, low ABV because you don't want to be waiting weeks to find out how it turned out.
    AlCaponeJunior likes this.
  9. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,305) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    Went all grain a long time ago, back in the zap-pap buckets. At the end of the mash, I said, "That is all there is to it?".
  10. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Initiate (0) May 21, 2010 Texas

    Yeah, from partial mash to all grain was pretty easy. Doesn't really take all that much longer either.
  11. clearbrew

    clearbrew Initiate (0) Nov 3, 2009 Louisiana

    I remember when I made the switch to all-grain. My first thought was "why haven't I done this sooner?"
    Other than the cost of the mash tun (which can be $40-50) there really is no down side. But, not including water and natural gas costs, my average brew (5 gal @ 5%ish ABV) runs about $25. My average extracts were around $30-35 or more.So, in theory, it does pay for itself.

    I would start off with a simple recipe that will convert easily, is not to big, etc...
    There are a lot of calculators on line and some great phone apps to help figure water measurements, strike temp, etc...
    I use my phone apps every brew day, and they were all free.
  12. MLucky

    MLucky Aspirant (286) Jul 31, 2010 California

    It's not all that much more difficult. It does take more time: add at least a couple hours onto your brew day. And more stuff: you need a mash tun, maybe a bigger kettle if you're not currently doing full boils. And there's a bit of a learning curve you will probably have to go through, as you learn the efficiency of your system etc. But if you're seriously about brewing, you're going to want to try it eventually.
  13. Brewsephus

    Brewsephus Initiate (0) Jan 15, 2012 Massachusetts

    I think is is pretty easy. The longer time makes it easier for me to plan my steps before hand, and not freak out and try to do everything at once. I mash for an hour, watch some tv, collect wort for an hour, watch tv, bring wort to a boil which takes 30 minutes, watch tv, then it's time for hops, whirlpool, chill, and siphon. The thing I enjoy most about it is not worrying about scorching my extract on the bottom of the kettle.
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