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All Grain vs. Extract

Until recently, I’ve been brewing all extract beers, most of which with pretty promising results. I’ve just recently started to step up to all-grain BIAB brewing, which I enjoyed as well. I’d like to do both moving forward, but I wasn’t sure if there were any particular NB recipes or just general beer styles that are better suited for one method versus another.

Keep in mind, I am doing BIAB for the foreseeable future for all of my all-grain brews, in case it makes a difference. Any thoughts are appreciated. Thanks!

I’m in the same boat and have completed two 3 gallon batches of BIAB one of which has been bottled for 2 weeks so I’m waiting to taste the finished product. I kind of made up my own recipes based on my extract recipes. If you go to

you can use their tools to make up your own recipes and also look at recipes others have shared.
I’ve posted some of mine there

one of them is Bruce’s Burnt Porter which is the next one I will do.

You probably have better water in Milwaukee than I do out in the burbs so I envy you. I just sent out my water sample to be tested so I can use it to brew after treating it.
Good luck…and have fun

Milwaukee water’s fantastic. Comes from the lake instead of a well, so not too mineraly and relatively easy to adjust.

From what I’ve heard (but not experienced - talking out my butt here), the only place where extract runs into serious trouble is pale lager territory. Partially that’s because the process of making extract carmelizes the beer somewhat, so you can’t get the really light color of the really crisp flavor of a good pale lager. That and adjunct lagers are probably off-limits due to availability of ingredients. I don’t think there’s any technical reason why you couldn’t do a 6-row and corn malt extract, just that isn’t any demand for such a thing, for some strange reason.

Last year i brewed only extract kits in my basement. It was enjoyable and a great learning process. This year i switched to BIAB in the garage & like it even more. I do 5.5 gal batches in a 10 gal. kettle. The only drawback for me is i’m limited to about 1.070 OG batches considering amount of grain & volume doing BIAB. Eventually i’ll change to conventional all grain & do it all in the garage. A great tool for creating recipes is Beersmith2. I’m sure you know about that, but it is awesome. NB has many good kits for extract, but as stated earlier, the lighter styles are a little darker than they should be. Full boils help this if you can pull it off. Happy brewin’ to you!

All great advice, and it’s good to hear that I’m not the only one with this same dilemma. My first all-grain batch turned out quite good, it was NB’s Oatmeal Cookie Brown, which I converted to a 5 gallon recipe. I too, do a full boil in a 10 gallon kettle, and much to my surprise, my OG came in around 1.078, (which I suppose shouldn’t be too surprising considering my grain bill was almost 16lbs!) It’s only been in the bottle for a week, but after tasting some of my samples, I am guessing this is going to be a pretty solid (and boozy) beer.

I guess I started asking myself about which recipes are better suited for all-grain, because my Oatmeal Cookie Brown, while good, is a pretty forgiving beer. I suppose the lighter the color/body/gravity, the less forgiving any beer will be, so I didn’t know if I’d be safer sticking to extracts for some of the more “delicate” beers.

All extract brews I’ve tasted (mine and friends’) have a bit of a burnt caramel flavor and aroma I have come to associate with home brew and some darker commercial beers. The higher the gravity, the more pronounced. It isn’t a bad flavor, in fact it can be quite tasty in the right beer. I always find it detracts from a brighter citrus hops, but works great with spicier hop profiles.

I think that burnt caramel flavor/aroma you speak of is what some call “extract twang.” I’ve noticed it in all the batches I’ve made so far (all were extract). It’s always very subtle, and like you said, it can add to the enjoyment of the right beer. However, I recently joined a homebrew club and have been sampling lots of homebrew. I’ve noticed that the all grain and PM brews don’t have that twang. They also have the capability of producing a nice thick mouthfeel, which I enjoy immensely in certain styles (porters, stouts, IIPAs, etc.) This is why I’m planning PMs for my next few brews and then moving on to 3-gal BIAB :smiley:

For the OP, I would recommend not sticking to extract for your lighter beers if color is a concern for you. I haven’t been able to produce anything below SRM 6-7 with extract, even when using a late extract addition. But hey, I’m still a noob, so take it with a grain of salt.

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