From the HBD Archive
Subject: grain vs. extract
Date: 1992-04-14 20:02:46 GMT

A few HBD's back, some submitters were discussing all-grain vs. extract
brewing and commented on the amount of work involved.

I, like many others, started out with extract brewing while renting
an apartment in Bend, Oregon. Using extract was very convenient since
we had a small kitchen. However, I was continually disappointed with
the reproducibility and the lack of variety (not to mention cost) of
the brews I produced. For a long time I was hesitant to go "all-grain"
since I thought it would be more work and require lots of expensive
equipment. I was wrong on both accounts.

I started all-grain brewing after sampling some home brew made by
my brother-in-law, who had begun home brewing about 15 years ago
and has never brewed using extracts. I was so impressed by the flavor
of the beer that I determined to go all-grain as soon as possible.
I asked my wife for a larger boiler for my birthday, then began
assembling the other things I needed based on what my brother-in-law
showed me.

It is not expensive to go all-grain. It only takes a larger boiler
(I use a big porcelain pot), a picnic cooler, some length of 1/2"
copper tubing, a smaller pot for stovetop mashing, and that's it.

It is not much more time consuming. I start at about 2pm on Sunday,
and I'm done by 7 pm on Sunday. Last week, I started a batch of
wheat beer at 2 pm and was done by 6 pm. Most of the time during
that period was spent standing around waiting. So I played with
my kids, worked on the deck, drank coffee, and watched Star Trek.
Big deal.

If you find that all-grain takes more time for some reasons, then there
are ways to reduce other parts of the brewing process. Like start kegging
instead of bottling. Use a wort chiller. Make a starter culture so
there is little lag time. And the time required in mashing and sparging
can itself be reduced. I have written about this before in the HBD.
Maybe I should write a book on improved mashing techniques. Now that's
and idea!

Quality? Even the reduced-time techniques I use will yield high-quality
brew. Maybe I'm prejudiced, but I enjoy my beers better than practically
anything I can buy. Many of my friends have said the same thing.
Although this may have more to do with kegging than anything else!

So if you have been hesitating to go all-grain because you are worried
about more work, then you are worring too much! Get bold! Do it!
If it doesn't agree with your lifestyle for some reason, you can always
go back to extracts. But if you have my experience, you never will.


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