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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: flbrewer on June 05, 2013, 03:14:22 PM

Title: All grain jump
Post by: flbrewer on June 05, 2013, 03:14:22 PM
A few general questions about going AG...
1) what are the major components needed to jump from extract to AG?
2) is the learning curve steep?
3) how much longer are brew days?
4) is there any noticeable taste difference between AG and extract with similar recipes?
5) if not, what's the point?
Title: Re: All grain jump
Post by: morticaixavier on June 05, 2013, 03:25:57 PM
1) Basic setup can be as simple as a large fine mesh nylon bag that fits inside your kettle, a kkettle >= 7gallons and a strong back.
2)not really. If you can check the temperature of water and stir porridge you should be all set.
3) I think there is a noticeable difference. If for no other reason than because when you buy extracts some other brewer has decided what's in your beer in terms of crystal malts and base malts. that being said I have had some outstanding extract beers.
4)It's also a lot of fun to serve a beverage you made from a simple pile of grain.
Title: Re: All grain jump
Post by: AmandaK on June 05, 2013, 03:33:43 PM
1) what are the major components needed to jump from extract to AG?
       You can brew in a bag and still brew all grain. Or you'll need a mash tun and a kettle possible of doing full boils. The AHA just did a video on all grain brewing.
2) is the learning curve steep?
       Depends. Can you do it? It's not hard. Can you do it well? It takes a bit of fine tuning to get everything right.
3) how much longer are brew days?
      My extract brew days were 2.5 hrs on average. Now they are 4.5 hrs.
4) is there any noticeable taste difference between AG and extract with similar recipes?
      No. If you aren't brewing good beer with extract, don't switch to all-grain. It will likely not help. Or in other terms, riding a motorcycle makes no sense if you can't ride a bicycle with training wheels.
5) if not, what's the point?
       More control, more experimentation, more gadgets, etc, etc.
Title: Re: All grain jump
Post by: Jimmy K on June 05, 2013, 03:53:21 PM
My all-grain brew day is 5-6 hours, about twice as long as extract. Most of that is waiting for the mash to finish, though, which doesn't require attention.  Batch sparging is pretty easy too and can be done with minimal equipment. A mash tun is essential though, unless you BIAB.  Also, as you know, cooling a full 5G of wort is no fun without a chiller.
 
 
Title: Re: All grain jump
Post by: kmshultz on June 05, 2013, 04:17:15 PM
1) what are the major components needed to jump from extract to AG?
What others have said. You may want to try Brew in a Bag (BIAB) if putting together a mash tun/manifold is intimidating, or if you simply want to keep things simple.
2) is the learning curve steep?
There is a lot more to know with All-grain, but you don't *have* a lot to get started. Steep some grain in your mash tun for an hour, run it out.
3) how much longer are brew days?
I don't recall how long extract days were, but AG can be a little longer, 4 to 6 hours depending on your sparge setup and what kind of mash you're doing. Again, BIAB brewers may have a brew day more similar in length to extract brew days.
4) is there any noticeable taste difference between AG and extract with similar recipes?
Extract beers can be every bit as tasty as AG for certain styles if you have very fresh extract, but for other styles it's harder for Extract to match AG in my opinion (see next point).
5) if not, what's the point?
All grain really gives you the freedom to get more creative, as well as craft more authentic-tasting beers for certain styles that it's hard to make with extract (i.e. Witbier). It's hard to get the flavor of Wit just right using Wheat extracts, not to mention the milky pale color. For me, the gear/geek-out aspect isn't so important, but then again I'm just not a gear-head. I like to keep my setup simple rather than complicate it with gear I don't need. I'm strongly considering trying BIAB even though I've been using a more traditional AG setup for a few years now.

Cheers!
Kent
Title: Re: All grain jump
Post by: garc_mall on June 05, 2013, 04:23:01 PM
A few general questions about going AG...
1) what are the major components needed to jump from extract to AG?
2) is the learning curve steep?
3) how much longer are brew days?
4) is there any noticeable taste difference between AG and extract with similar recipes?
5) if not, what's the point?

1. I don't know anything about BIAB, but for denny's cheap and easy method, it requires a cooler (I used one of my extras) and some straining device (I use a bazooka screen, Denny uses a toilet connection tube without the plastic tube). Also a kettle big enough for full boils (8-12 gallons).
2. As long as you have the cold-side (post boil) down, All grain isn't too difficult.
3. I would estimate 2.5 times as long for your first attempt, and then it will work down to a little less than double the time when you know what you are doing.
4 + 5. The reason I brew all-grain is for the amount of control I get out of my beer. Last night at the club meeting, one of the other members and I brought in a mild which we brewed the same day (different recipes). Mine was all-grain, his was extract + specialty grains (he is normally an all-grain brewer). Top to bottom, everyone preferred my mild over his. The reason was, I mashed in at 162, which provided a large amount of unfermentables (I had 52% AA) giving my beer a lot of body, while he couldn't really control the fermentability of his extract batch (that is set when the extract is made), so his fermented reasonably dry (77ish%) and had a very thin body. This is the big benefit to all grain. That, and the ability to work with grains that require mashing (Munich, Vienna, MO), which can really change up the quality of your beer (My house APA is 30% munich, no crystal).
Title: Re: All grain jump
Post by: HoosierBrew on June 05, 2013, 04:29:56 PM
+1 to all the good advice.  Also, alot of the extracts out there are less fermentable than the wort you can make.  For some styles, it's maybe not a big deal but for example, trying to make something like a saison accurately could be a challenge with extract, as it is a style that needs to finish with a very low FG.  I say go AG when you can't wait to, not look to be convinced.
Title: Re: All grain jump
Post by: bluesman on June 05, 2013, 04:36:51 PM
5) if not, what's the point?

Since everyone else did such a fine job answering all your other questions, I'll answer this one.

The point is that it's a labor of love, and it helps to at least "not mind" the labor. There is extra time/cleanup involved. That being said, there is a significant amount more control of the flavor and body of the finished beer with all-grain vs. extract. Great beer can be made with extract, but all-grain brewing allows for more versatility in the styles that can be brewed, and the wort profile (sugar/dexrin composition). Whereas, with extract you get what you get, and it's difficult to futile (at best) to significantly alter the wort composition (sugar profile) from there.
Title: Re: All grain jump
Post by: thebigbaker on June 05, 2013, 04:39:14 PM
+1 to great advice already given in this thread!  Going all grain is very easy and there are some great videos online to get started.  When I made the switch, I started doing three gallon batches on my stove.  I found a cheap 48 qt rectangular cooler on CL an turned into a mash tun (you can find lots of videos on how to make a cooler - mash tun).  I now have a burner and do all my brewing in the garage, so I do 5 gallons now. 

The main items you will need to go all grain is a mash tun, large enough pot to do full boils (8 - 10 gallons), and a way to chill your wort.  If you are thinking about it, I would go ahead and do it. 

Title: Re: All grain jump
Post by: tonyp on June 05, 2013, 04:45:13 PM
All of your questions have been answered, but for me, smelling and tasting the grains before I brew is one of my favorite parts of the all-grain process that can't be duplicated with extract. If you don't believe me, stick your finger in the extract and taste it :) Plus, the spent grain makes great chicken food!
Title: Re: All grain jump
Post by: morticaixavier on June 05, 2013, 04:49:36 PM
[...]Plus, the spent grain makes great chicken food!

+ 1

the chickens LOVE the spent grain. They couldn't care less about the normal chicken food but give them a pile of spent barley and rye and a couple cockroaches and they are happy little birds.
Title: Re: All grain jump
Post by: the_pig on June 05, 2013, 05:22:30 PM
Another, admittedly less noble, reason is that it is cheaper to brew all grain. 
Title: All grain jump
Post by: flbrewer on June 05, 2013, 06:01:51 PM
Another, admittedly less noble, reason is that it is cheaper to brew all grain.
How so?
Title: Re: All grain jump
Post by: denny on June 05, 2013, 06:12:59 PM
Check out the video Gary Glass made about the Cheap'n'Easy system...

http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/pages/lets-brew/get-schooled/master-the-mash/all-grain-brewing-videos
Title: Re: All grain jump
Post by: morticaixavier on June 05, 2013, 06:26:46 PM
Another, admittedly less noble, reason is that it is cheaper to brew all grain.
How so?

grain is cheaper per unit of extractable sugar than extract.
Title: Re: All grain jump
Post by: Jimmy K on June 05, 2013, 07:28:32 PM
Another, admittedly less noble, reason is that it is cheaper to brew all grain.
How so?

grain is cheaper per unit of extractable sugar than extract.
All grain ingredients are cheaper. But the path you follow may lead to Blichmann brew kettles, march pumps, kegerators, a brew shed...
 
But it doesn't have to be expensive.
Title: Re: All grain jump
Post by: denny on June 05, 2013, 07:32:41 PM
All grain ingredients are cheaper. But the path you follow may lead to Blichmann brew kettles, march pumps, kegerators, a brew shed...
 
But it doesn't have to be expensive.

THIS^^^^ is what I was gonna say!  I've stuck with the Cheap'n'Easy method for 15+ years and 437 batches so far and I have no intention of changing.
Title: Re: All grain jump
Post by: AmandaK on June 05, 2013, 08:09:09 PM
All grain ingredients are cheaper. But the path you follow may lead to Blichmann brew kettles, march pumps, kegerators, a brew shed...
 
But it doesn't have to be expensive.

THIS^^^^ is what I was gonna say!  I've stuck with the Cheap'n'Easy method for 15+ years and 437 batches so far and I have no intention of changing.

But some of us are a bit ADD and get excited about new gadgets... so it's not very cheap for us.  ::)
Title: Re: All grain jump
Post by: sparkleberry on June 05, 2013, 08:20:24 PM
i started with 3g biab batches. i was hooked and had a blast brewing small batches several times a month. biab was a very simple way to try all grain.

i finally decided to do the denny cheap n easy. i haven't turned back. i still do 3g batches as well as 5 gallon batches with cheap n easy. i've even converted a brewing buddy who started out fly sparging, mainly because it saves him a little bit of time.
Title: Re: All grain jump
Post by: flbrewer on June 05, 2013, 08:29:27 PM
Check out the video Gary Glass made about the Cheap'n'Easy system...

http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/pages/lets-brew/get-schooled/master-the-mash/all-grain-brewing-videos
Awesome videos! Thanks for the links...of course this opens up 100 more questions! BTW, nice that your recipe made it into the vid  ;)
Title: Re: All grain jump
Post by: the_pig on June 05, 2013, 09:05:29 PM
As others have clarified, what I meant was that all grain brewing (assuming you do more than a very few batches which would make up for the cost of the cooler, etc.) can be cheaper.  Of course, there are suppliers who will be happy to sell you a bunch of expensive stuff.  On the other hand, there is no reason you couldn't boost the cost of extract brewing by using a Blichmann.  They are very nice looking kettles - don't get me wrong.  But they are not required to brew all grain.

I'm with Denny on this one though.  It all about the brew, not the bling.
Title: All grain jump
Post by: denny on June 05, 2013, 09:43:39 PM
Check out the video Gary Glass made about the Cheap'n'Easy system...

http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/pages/lets-brew/get-schooled/master-the-mash/all-grain-brewing-videos
Awesome videos! Thanks for the links...of course this opens up 100 more questions! BTW, nice that your recipe made it into the vid  ;)

My recipe, my equipment design, my methods.
Title: Re: All grain jump
Post by: klickitat jim on June 06, 2013, 12:12:14 AM
As far as time is concerned, I start thinking about my next brew day the morning after my last brew day. So if the process takes all day its fine by me.