Author Topic: Need your input: Extract vs partial grain/1-gallon vs 3 and 5...  (Read 1164 times)

Offline dmtaylor

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Re: Need your input: Extract vs partial grain/1-gallon vs 3 and 5...
« Reply #15 on: August 10, 2022, 09:57:49 pm »
... and for those interested in reading outside of AHA forums, this topic was cross-posted to https://old.reddit.com/r/Homebrewing/comments/wl1jub/help_ask_newbies_and_exract_vs_partial_grain/

FWIW, IMO, there is nothing wrong with 'cross-posting' - especially on topics like this

Thanks Kat.  Good traffic on both paths I see.  So I've gone ahead and posted in both.  :)
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Offline dmtaylor

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Re: Need your input: Extract vs partial grain/1-gallon vs 3 and 5...
« Reply #16 on: August 11, 2022, 06:11:47 am »
I live 6 miles from Briess, but I don't think they sell it direct.  So I wouldn't count on their LME being fresh.  If I could pick it up at the factory, that's more likely to be fresh.  But even then...
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Need your input: Extract vs partial grain/1-gallon vs 3 and 5...
« Reply #17 on: August 11, 2022, 08:06:13 am »
Extract has been covered, so I will comment on batch size.

I've done 10 gallon batches for 20 years. Now I'm starting to do 5 gallons more often just to have an easier brew day. Easier lifting, and heating and cooling go faster. Darn I'm getting old.

1 gallon batches don't appeal to me.
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Re: Need your input: Extract vs partial grain/1-gallon vs 3 and 5...
« Reply #18 on: August 11, 2022, 09:27:58 am »
My first batch in 1997 was with 2 cans of Muntons Hop flavored LME.  2 gal on the stove, added 3 gal cold water and dry yeast.  Since then, I have acquired lots of equipment as I slowly improved each aspect of my brewing, learning a lot along the way.  Now I have a nice 3 vessel system with pump and CFC.  I would agree that fermentation temp, water chemistry, and all grain are three big improvements.  My biggest challenge is time and money.  How I wish I had an all-in-one electric system from the start, I would have saved a lot of money and time, but i did not have the money, or commitment in 1997.  But how much would I have not learned from doing it the hard way?  I think if I were to encourage someone new to start, I would encourage them to buy a 5gal all-in-one electric system, if they had the money and were committed.  If money and commitment are in question, then there are plenty of options available.  Also, education on the camden tablet as dmtaylor mentioned is easy; I like the idea of having it included in a kit.  Fermentation control can also be a challenge.  I built an insulated box and swap out ice blocks.  Not everyone has the time to do that or the space, so that is something that would need education as well.
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Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: Need your input: Extract vs partial grain/1-gallon vs 3 and 5...
« Reply #19 on: August 11, 2022, 09:34:55 am »
I see a lot less stigma against both smaller batches and extract brewing now than I did in my first few years of brewing in the late 2000s/early 2010s. I don't hang out in beginner forums too much these days so maybe I don't see as much of the anti-extract contingency these days. I am around a lot of discussion around small batch brewing and there's more support for it now than any time in the past (that I've seen). When I started looking at all grain equipment the message was singular: you will absolutely want to go bigger and never smaller. Even brewing five gallons was treated as sort of a beginner's project. Like most things in craft beer, especially at the time, it's a race to be the most extreme and capture bragging rights.

I jumped down from five gallons to three to mostly one gallon batches fairly quickly. (I still primarily only do 1-3 gallon batches.) BIAB opened a lot of doors to smaller batches because it didn't require piecing together a smaller mash tun (although that's exactly what I ended up doing). Most of the small batch brewing is done BIAB or extract/partial mash.

Although the opposition tempered with time, the discussion remains basically the same. Opponents point out correctly that you can brew a larger volume for little additional work and time. Proponents point out the lack of desire to have larger volumes of one beer and want to spend more time brewing. There's not a lot of new in that debate.
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Offline jherzjherz

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Re: Need your input: Extract vs partial grain/1-gallon vs 3 and 5...
« Reply #20 on: August 11, 2022, 10:23:43 am »
SUCH great and appreciated comments to suggest. Dried Malt Extract vs liquid and shelf life is a huge point. Size of standard intro batch is also a curiosity. The AHA offers this robust series of resources The Easy Guide To Making Beer https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/the-easy-guide-to-making-beer/ and we suggest 3 gallons to start. (Fair point about metric vs gallons too).

On growth, I'd welcome answering that question directly since I don't want to distract from the solution-oriented conversation here.

Cheers and thank you to all,
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Offline Steve Ruch

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Re: Need your input: Extract vs partial grain/1-gallon vs 3 and 5...
« Reply #21 on: August 11, 2022, 12:20:10 pm »
So you want to make homebrewing easier and more approachable, while remaining high enough quality that newbies will stick around.  I have many ideas.

Batch size – A new standard 2.5 to 3 gallon batch size I think is better than either 5 gallons or 1 to 1.5 gallons.  Why?  Any batch size of 3 gallons or less can be done easily on the stovetop using soup kettles that the brewer likely already has in their possession, or is easy to get for cheap.  No real fancy equipment is required.  Brewer can easily upgrade to partial mash to full mash as BIAB.  The thing with 2.5 gallons or greater is that the brewer will get a full case to reward their labors, rather than just the 6 to 12 bottles that a 1-1.5 gallon batch will give.  Also, one pack of any yeast is almost always close to the perfect amount for 2.5-3 gallons without being a severe overpitch (like for 1-1.5 gallons) or underpitch (5+ gallons).  So, not only is this just plain easy, it can also improve yeast performance, and thus, final beer quality.  Speaking of which…

Overall, I think one of the other most important things is to aim to provide generally better quality ingredient kits.  What do I mean, how?  Well…

1)   A lot of the potential issues with newbie beer quality can be narrowed down to over-utilization of one single ingredient: LME.  If there is a stigma against extract brewing -- and I do think there is -- it is rightly so, and I think it often/usually comes from using LME.  From the moment LME is manufactured, it is beginning to oxidize, stale, and darken.  The flavors after a couple weeks on the shelf are not the same as the day it was manufactured.  But freshness within a couple of weeks of manufacture until brew day is rare, if it happens at all.  Several months later, the extract is quite a bit darker and has a consistently stale caramel-like flavor.  Complaints from newbs along the lines of "all my beers taste the same" might today be less common than they were 20 years ago, but undoubtedly are, or in my experience should be, still happening.

If homebrewers could press/demand that kit-makers and extract manufacturers have DME become much more common and less expensive (if feasible), such issues would become more rare, and thus, newbies might think wow this first batch sure came out great, I am going to stick with the hobby.  Not to mention, in some ways, DME is even easier to measure and use than LME anyway.

2)   Similarly, every ingredient kit in existence should contain one Campden tablet, with explicit instructions to pre-treat the water before it touches any malt.  Chlorophenolic problems would no longer exist.  But, what if the brewer is not using municipally chlorinated water?  Oh well, there would be no harm no foul in adding the Campden regardless.  Provision and use of Campden should become habitual, as it would prevent so many common problems with medicinal Band-Aid flavors, and which plague not just newbies, but even intermediate or advanced level brewers on occasion if we forget to keep the chlorine out.

So, there's my 2 cents.  If you don’t need 2 cents, neither do I.  Cheers.  :)
3 gallon batches work great for me. I do stove top brewing and normally have a beer with supper so brewing 3 gallons every month is perfect size.
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Offline COFlyGuy

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Re: Need your input: Extract vs partial grain/1-gallon vs 3 and 5...
« Reply #22 on: September 06, 2022, 09:46:39 am »
Thank you for this post.

As a total newbie, (getting my equipment today!), I am looking for small batch only because i don't want to drink a ton of the same beer every time.

As for a few of the other things I will come back and comment later.
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Offline Drewch

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Re: Need your input: Extract vs partial grain/1-gallon vs 3 and 5...
« Reply #23 on: September 06, 2022, 11:08:24 am »
John Palmer was just on the BeerSmith podcast talking about a new book focused on small-batch BIAB.  Seems to be really leaning into the ideas discussed here.

https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9iZWVyc21pdGguY29tL2NvbnRlbnQvZmVlZC9wb2RjYXN0Lw/episode/aHR0cHM6Ly9iZWVyc21pdGguY29tL2NvbnRlbnQvP3A9ODE2?ep=14
« Last Edit: September 06, 2022, 11:10:33 am by Drewch »
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Offline Fire Rooster

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Re: Need your input: Extract vs partial grain/1-gallon vs 3 and 5...
« Reply #24 on: September 07, 2022, 04:06:43 am »
So you want to make homebrewing easier and more approachable, while remaining high enough quality that newbies will stick around.  I have many ideas.

Batch size – A new standard 2.5 to 3 gallon batch size I think is better than either 5 gallons or 1 to 1.5 gallons.  Why?  Any batch size of 3 gallons or less can be done easily on the stovetop using soup kettles that the brewer likely already has in their possession, or is easy to get for cheap.  No real fancy equipment is required.  Brewer can easily upgrade to partial mash to full mash as BIAB.  The thing with 2.5 gallons or greater is that the brewer will get a full case to reward their labors, rather than just the 6 to 12 bottles that a 1-1.5 gallon batch will give.  Also, one pack of any yeast is almost always close to the perfect amount for 2.5-3 gallons without being a severe overpitch (like for 1-1.5 gallons) or underpitch (5+ gallons).  So, not only is this just plain easy, it can also improve yeast performance, and thus, final beer quality.  Speaking of which…

Overall, I think one of the other most important things is to aim to provide generally better quality ingredient kits.  What do I mean, how?  Well…

1)   A lot of the potential issues with newbie beer quality can be narrowed down to over-utilization of one single ingredient: LME.  If there is a stigma against extract brewing -- and I do think there is -- it is rightly so, and I think it often/usually comes from using LME.  From the moment LME is manufactured, it is beginning to oxidize, stale, and darken.  The flavors after a couple weeks on the shelf are not the same as the day it was manufactured.  But freshness within a couple of weeks of manufacture until brew day is rare, if it happens at all.  Several months later, the extract is quite a bit darker and has a consistently stale caramel-like flavor.  Complaints from newbs along the lines of "all my beers taste the same" might today be less common than they were 20 years ago, but undoubtedly are, or in my experience should be, still happening.

If homebrewers could press/demand that kit-makers and extract manufacturers have DME become much more common and less expensive (if feasible), such issues would become more rare, and thus, newbies might think wow this first batch sure came out great, I am going to stick with the hobby.  Not to mention, in some ways, DME is even easier to measure and use than LME anyway.

2)   Similarly, every ingredient kit in existence should contain one Campden tablet, with explicit instructions to pre-treat the water before it touches any malt.  Chlorophenolic problems would no longer exist.  But, what if the brewer is not using municipally chlorinated water?  Oh well, there would be no harm no foul in adding the Campden regardless.  Provision and use of Campden should become habitual, as it would prevent so many common problems with medicinal Band-Aid flavors, and which plague not just newbies, but even intermediate or advanced level brewers on occasion if we forget to keep the chlorine out.

So, there's my 2 cents.  If you don’t need 2 cents, neither do I.  Cheers.  :)
What he said ^
Also, I still think starting out with extracts is great way to get into the hobby. I made good extract batches when I first started over 15 years ago which kept me interested enough to move on to all grain. I think the simplicity of BIAB has made it easy for newbies to start out with all grain from the beginning.


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What they said ^