For a beginner, complicated brewing techniques can be intimidating, and when it comes to all grain brewing, the whole process can seem a bit mysterious and scientific. This is why it is actually recommended getting STARTED WITH BREWING USING EXTRACTS. This way you will learn the basics of making beer in 6 easy steps – sanitation, boiling, chilling the wort, transferring the wort into the fermentation vessel, pitching the yeast, priming for conditioning and bottling. If you follow the instructions, use common sense and care, you will end up with good beer.
So, why going through the trouble and extra work of brewing all grain? There are in my opinion 4 main benefits of doing it.
- CONTROL THE SOURCING OF YOUR INGREDIENTS (ESPECIALLY ORGANIC)
- BREW IN A BAG SOLUTION
In this article I will try to sum up the information I researched on all grain brewing for beginners, before you make the decision to get into it. If you are serious about making your own beer, this is ultimately the experience you are looking for.
The cost of all grain brewing versus extract brewing
You should consider two types of costs: EQUIPMENT and INGREDIENTS. Because when you go all grain brewing, YOU WILL HAVE TO DO THE MASHING YOURSELF – that first step during which the starch (80 to 90% of the malt) is converted into fermentable sugars, along with the already present maltose and other types of sugars – you will normally need additional gear, on the other hand, you will start from scratch with most likely malted grain.
THE START UP COST (EQUIPMENT) At this point you have two options to choose from for brewing all grain.
The traditional method is to mash by performing SPARGING, in which case you will need 3 vessels: the HLT (Hot Liquor Tank, in fact a jargon name for hot water tank), the MASH TUN and the BOIL KETTLE, or at least 2 vessels: one for boiling, one for mashing. This is when is become significantly more expensive.
Unless you want to make a high gravity beer, requiring extracting lots of malt from your grain to start with, you may use NO-SPARGE MASHING method. The most commonly used in the BREW IN A BAG (BIAB), an insignificant expense. The bag is also reusable.
Either or, you will also need a MALT MILL for all grain brewing.
THE INGREDIENTS COST
Wether you use LIQUID or DRY EXTRACT, this will be twice as expensive as using MALTED GRAIN. This is when all grain brewing become really economically advantageous.
IN TERMS OF TIME, YOU MAY SAVE AN HOUR BREWING WITH EXTRACT
The ultimate satisfaction of brewing at home: creativity
One of the great benefits of all grain brewing is that you may select your own ingredients, to enjoy FREELY CREATING YOUR OWN BEER RECIPES, because you like VARIETY, and QUALITY.
Personally I love to cook, and this is perhaps why I’ve been drawn to trying to brew my own beer. If you are reading this, you are certainly passionate about trying different styles and ultimately you want to get the satisfaction of creating your own style. Once you master the basics – I am in the process of learning – you become more confident, because you understand the chemistry and you have enough technique to achieve producing quality. That’s where the joy of home brewing comes! (to somewhat quote home brewing guru Charlie Papazian).
You will find lots of recipe charts and calculators to help you plan your brew day, here is a good site I found with all the CALCULATORS to build a recipe.
The benefits of sourcing of your ingredients
Being environmentally conscious, one of the benefits of brewing all grain is to SOURCE ORGANIC MALTED GRAIN easier. The organic beer market itself is still very marginal, less than 5% – therefore finding organic beer ingredients can be challenging. However it is getting easier to source organic producers.
- BRIESS Malt & Ingredients Co. based in Chilton, WI produces 11 different kinds of Certified Organic Malts and is committed to reduce its energy and consumption, to conserve water, uses only recyclable packaging, and works with local farmers and animal nutritionists to reuse wastes. This company works with many distributors in the USA and online vendors.
- A new company, ORGANICBREWSUPPLIES is an online supplier based in Canada shipping to the Canada and the USA, offering all organic brewing ingredient kits, as well as organic malts, hops and yeasts.
- BREWORGANIC.COM apparently is going to (re)open soon. The people behind this internet venture come from SEVEN BRIDGES ORGANIC BREWING SUPPLY, Santa Cruz, California that had to close recently. That company had been well-known in the brewers’ community. Stay tuned.
Another benefit of sourcing your own ingredients is DIVERSITY. Beyond the characteristics and classification of the different types of malts – base malt, specialty grains, non-barley malts … ultimately you want to know variety of grain you want to brew with to achieve the CHARACTER you like.
6 ROW MALTS were in the past higher yielding Barley varieties, consisting of less starch and more husk bringing more potential tannin, while 2 ROW MALTS have more starch and are potentially more mellow.
Grains are also classified according to their region of origin. Typically, European malts such as VIENNA or MUNICH have a clean, elegant character, while AMERICAN MALTS tend to have a milder, more neutral profile.
All grain brewing made easy – the Brew In A Bag solution
As mentioned earlier, getting started with all grain brewing is now easier and more affordable than ever. Here are five benefits of use a BIAB to prepare your wort from scratch.
- ONLY ONE KETTLE is needed equating to SMALLER INVESTMENT. The bag is reusable.
- SAVES YOU SOME STORAGE SPACE
- MAKES CLEAN UP EASIER. Just wash the bag.
- SAVES YOU TIME DURING MASHING. No sparging needed.
- ADAPTABLE. You may still decide to do sparging extracting more gravity. Exists in different sizes. 1 Gallon, 5 Gallon, or custom …
Be aware that brewing with a BIAB will require 25% to 30% more grain than with the traditional sparging method. Pressing the bag to drain it faster might extract more tannin, although, it’s an ongoing debate in the home brewing community, judging by the posts on different blogs I have read for this research.
Are you ready to go all grain?
I hope you enjoyed reading this article and I hope you now have more information to help you make the decision to brew all grain at home.
Flexibility, cost and quality of the ingredients (organic or not) are significant criteria, but above all creativity and independence are the main reasons why you want to do it.
Please leave a question or comments on this.
Cheers and to our health,