Author Topic: Buy a full grain kit, or try to create a recipe for the first full grain batch?  (Read 1281 times)

Offline JMBOUT

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So I am making the transition from malt extracts into full grain and am excited to begin tampering with different grains to create a great recipe I can call my own. 

Should I buy a full grain batch for my first go, or start with a completely self created recipe?

Basically I would like to know if anyone has attempted something of their own on the first go around.  If so did it turn out well.

Also if anyone has any first time recipes that they'd like to share.

Offline tress

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I would highly recommend starting off with a kit for the first couple of tries until you get your technique down.  Once you know your routine and get your equipment tuned to it, experiment to your heart's content.

I've tried a couple of kits and then immediately went into creating my own.  It has taken me about 5 batches to finally get my Pale Ale just right; on the other hand, my Robust Porter has taken me twice as many batches and I'm still not quite there yet.

I've always felt that if I can get one style brewed the way I like it, then I can move on to other styles and brew them just as well.  But that's just me.

You will get some great advice here so keep checking back on the forum.  Good luck.
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Offline morticaixavier

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How skilled do you feel you are at recipe creation as an extract brewer? If you are comfortable with creating your own recipes using extract and you are excited to try the same all grain than go for it. to start with divide your extract amounts by .6 to get the lbs of grain you will likely need. if you can get any info on what goes into your favorite extract you can make some guesses about what specialty grains you will want to add to get to that starting point or you can just assume all base grain in place of the extract and use whatever specialty grains your extract recipe called for.
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Offline dmtaylor

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A few thoughts... I think it is probably best if you do NOT try to design your own recipe from thin air when you are still learning, as some malts need to be mashed, some don't, some can be overpowering in small amounts... there are quirky things to know about certain malts.  However, I do think it would be okay if you find several all-grain recipes from people that you respect, and review their recipes in detail for ideas and amounts and sort of combine the recipes to develop your own.  That might work.  However the best advice I can probably give if you are interested in designing your own recipes is to review in detail the book Designing Great Beers by Ray Daniels.  That book is full of great guidance on different malts and appropriate amounts for each style, both extract and all-grain.  Also more recently, Brewing Classic Styles by Zainasheff and Palmer provides a great award winning recipe for every current BJCP style, both extract and all-grain, so you can't go wrong if you brew one of those.  Radical Brewing by Mosher is also great but a little more advanced.

The alternative is to just brew kits and there is certainly nothing wrong with that.  However, be warned that some kits are better than others.  I trust Northern Brewer's kits.  I don't trust kits from many other places.  For instance I don't really like the Brewer's Best kits.  You might get lucky, and you might not, depending on the source.  All kits are not created equal.

Education through those books above and forums like this one is really your best weapon.
Dave

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Offline Joe Sr.

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However the best advice I can probably give if you are interested in designing your own recipes is to review in detail the book Designing Great Beers by Ray Daniels.

I'll second Designing Great Beers.  It's a great resource and exactly what I was going to recommend before reading through all the comments.

Mort is also spot on.  If you've created recipes already, they are easy enough to convert.

If you're just starting, I'd stay simple.  There's no need to throw some of everything in a beer to get complexity.
It's all in the reflexes. - Jack Burton

Offline Stevie

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First two all-grains were kits, next two were recipes from BCS or a reliable source. From there I was making my own while gleaning bits from other sources and reading designing great beers.

Wasn't there a rumor that designing great beers was getting an update?

Offline HoosierBrew

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First two all-grains were kits, next two were recipes from BCS or a reliable source. From there I was making my own while gleaning bits from other sources and reading designing great beers.

Wasn't there a rumor that designing great beers was getting an update?

I've heard that Ray is working on an update, taking into account the better selection of ingredients nowadays. I hope so - I loved DGB. It taught me alot about stuff like gravity points, common percentages of ingredients, BU:GU, etc.
Jon H.

Offline fmader

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Design your own! It's so much more rewarding. Just don't do anything too complicated. Stick with an American Pale Ale or something. The first recipe that I designed was my first all-grain batch. There was no turning back from there. At that point, it was the best beer I had ever brewed. You get better with every brew. This is your hobby. If you feel that you can design you're own recipe, do so. If not, get a kit... Or I'd suggest using somebody else's established recipe.

Designing Great Beers is still my go to reference. I use the formulas in that book to create my recipes.
Frank

Offline klickitat jim

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First two all-grains were kits, next two were recipes from BCS or a reliable source. From there I was making my own while gleaning bits from other sources and reading designing great beers.

Wasn't there a rumor that designing great beers was getting an update?

I've heard that Ray is working on an update, taking into account the better selection of ingredients nowadays. I hope so - I loved DGB. It taught me alot about stuff like gravity points, common percentages of ingredients, BU:GU, etc.

"If" I score high enough on my bjcp exam to qualify for the written exam, I'm going to have to buy that book and study up. Early on I had a rudimentary understanding of all the calculations, but recipe software has rotted my brain. Sadly I don't think bjcp would let me use my tablet for recipe design questions.

But that's a huge IF. I think it might be possible I scored high enough but not holding my breath.

Offline HoosierBrew

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"If" I score high enough on my bjcp exam to qualify for the written exam, I'm going to have to buy that book and study up. Early on I had a rudimentary understanding of all the calculations, but recipe software has rotted my brain. Sadly I don't think bjcp would let me use my tablet for recipe design questions.

But that's a huge IF. I think it might be possible I scored high enough but not holding my breath.

As far as the BJCP, you'll get there, man - because you've dedicated yourself to it. As for the software, I love it and use it anywhere I can - I have no love for doing calculations that good software can do for me. But the book did teach me to think about what bitterness to malt ratio (BU:GU)I want in a beer, and what ratios are good for certain beers, instead of shooting from the hip like I did before.  And I still use the gravity points to help convert preboil gravity readings - every now and then I'm off by a few points especially on bigger beers, and can adjust with DME if I think I need to.
Jon H.

Offline klickitat jim

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I appreciate the encouragement. I probably should study the book anyway. Knowledge is always a good thing.

Offline pete b

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My suggestion is a kit or following a recipe. Its not that its so difficult, its just that I think for your first time with all grain its best to put all your concentration into learning the process. This is at least true for the grain bill. Your probably already comfortable messing around with hop additions, adjuncts, yeast etc.
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Online hopfenundmalz

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First two all-grains were kits, next two were recipes from BCS or a reliable source. From there I was making my own while gleaning bits from other sources and reading designing great beers.

Wasn't there a rumor that designing great beers was getting an update?
q
There are rumors that Ray Daniels wants to do that. Where he finds the time is the question. That Cicerone thing has him pretty busy.
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Offline leejoreilly

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Let me second Dave's advise - don't just pull a recipe out of thin air; at least not yet. Like a lot of folks here, I like to start by developing a "base" recipe, and then change one ingredient at a time until I reach the "just right" point. While a kit is certainly an acceptable start point, I usually research a number of recipes for the style I want to brew, especially any particularly good versions of the style that I've tasted, and then kind of average them out. Not average in the strict math sense, but find the common elements and use some combination of them. That way you can be pretty sure of starting off with a recipe that's reasonably close to where you want to be. Eventually you'll get to know your ingredients and your preferences and you can totally wing it to your heart's content. Finally, reading up on recipe design is great advice, too.

Offline factory

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How skilled do you feel you are at recipe creation as an extract brewer? If you are comfortable with creating your own recipes using extract and you are excited to try the same all grain than go for it. to start with divide your extract amounts by .6 to get the lbs of grain you will likely need. if you can get any info on what goes into your favorite extract you can make some guesses about what specialty grains you will want to add to get to that starting point or you can just assume all base grain in place of the extract and use whatever specialty grains your extract recipe called for.
+1 This is what I did.  I went for a simple Belgian Wit recipe that I came up with after doing some research online.