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Extract vs. All-Grain brewing

I’ve recently become infatuated with home-brewing, as I’m sure everyone else here is, and have made about 4 batches now. First two were with a friend and were all-grain and complete disasters, last two were extract kits and were awesome! I realize extract are much easier, should I get a few extract kits under my belt and then attempt all-grain again? Im just wondering the logical progression.

when you feel comfortable with extract batches, step it up to a partial mash. when you feel comfortable there, jump into all grain. but if you’re a “feet first”, take the leap! read up on it but don’t let it intimidate you. the rewards are much better than letting yourself worry.

Your aptitude will determine the right path. Also how much you want to drink during the brew session - it’s a lot harder to brew AG with a serious buzz.

There are those of us who enjoy a challenge! :slight_smile:

AG is not rocket science, so define disaster…probably only made a couple of minor errors that are easily corrected.


I skipped extract and partials and went straight on with AG. It depends what you want from brewing, for me the most fun is creating recipes and brewing them from scratch, so to speak - anything homemade gets me going. Beer is the icing on the cake. AG is easy, just be sure to research it and most of all understand why you do things a certain way. If you do go wrong, it’s probably in the fine tuning and easily corrected.

One thing to remember is that the potential for disaster may be higher with AG. Or to rephrase it, a lot of the troubleshooting has been taken out of the equation when you brew with extract. The part about water, proper mash temp and pH and all of those variables are waiting for you in all-grain. This is mostly good but can be bad as well. Many brewers get into all-grain and everything falls into place. Maybe their water is conducive to the styles they like and they face fewer challenges. You can make some great beer with extract and I brewed with extract for five years which is almost unheard of. I don’t want this to sound condescending but brewing with extract can be compared to riding a bike with training wheels… very few things can go wrong and a lot of the danger has been taken out of the picture. Once you go all-grain, that safety net is not there so you need to know a little more about what you’re doing. Again, I have no issues with extract brewing and I made some fantastic extract beer. I have an AG page on my site complete with a diagram that pushed me into AG. Link is below. Cheers.

I brewed extract for more than 10 years before switching to all grain. I made the switch because the brew store where I had been going to get ingredients closed, and I found it harder to get good, FRESH liquid malt extract. Not having the super fresh LME made my beers less tasty than I had become accustomed to. Switching to all grain brought the quality back to where I wanted it.

I got my start with Mr. Beer, after 4 batches I was ready for AG. I followed Denny’s batch sparge guide, couldn’t be easier.

I’m a pretty busy lady, and I don’t have the time it takes to do AG. I can come home from work, brew up 5 gals of beer and make dinner, do the dishes and still have time to relax and read up on brewing. I can still create my own recipes when I feel a bit more creative, or just brew up one of NB outstanding kits.
When it comes times for drinking my home brew nobody seems to care that I used extract or partial instead of all grain.
Maybe some day I’ll go AG. but I’m very happy where I am right now.
you can alway move up to AG at a later date.

+1 with iluv2bru. I brew both. As Charlie P. says. After awhile he can’t even remember whether any given batch is AG, PM or extract. It’s all good beer. :cheers:

I felt like I was cheating with extract. And it bothered me. I did six extract kits, figured out the basics, then all grain since them. I just passed my one year anniversary in late January. Over twenty all grain batches later, I couldn’t be more happy with my decision.

The batches are much cheaper to brew. I have everything in bulk now. Grains, hops, and multiple pounds of specialty grains. I don’t have a homebrew within a hour and half. So the bulk is almost a most. plus I can basically write most any recipes right now, and would have the ingredients to start brewing instantly.

Most of us started with extract, and when you’re new AG is scary. I would see lot’s of folks here telling people that AG wasn’t that big a deal, but I didn’t believe it. I did a partial mash and that went poorly, my OG was low. A helpful employee at my LHBS suggested that I needed to stir the mash more. I did that the next time and hit my OG right on. My next batch was AG, and guess what? All those folks who said it wasn’t that hard were telling the truth! I can’t imagine going back to extract at this point. Not only is it cheaper and the beer is better, but it’s much more rewarding to me to do my own mashes instead of opening a can.

I did four extract batches before switching to all grain. I now have a nice all grain brew cart set up with a pump and a few other bells & whistles. This weekend, I did a small (3.5-gallon) brew-in-a-bag all grain batch on my kitchen stove on Saturday while wearing my PJs. On Sunday, I did a regular 5.5-gallon batch on the brew cart outside. I occasionally still do an extract batch.

I mention this to say that you can always switch back and forth between extract and all grain, and between and among different brewing methods and setups. I think that as long as you can do a full boil and have a decent chilling method, the jump to all grain is pretty simple if you use Denny’s “Cheap-N-Easy” batch sparge method. See here: If you discover that all grain isn’t your thing, you’re only out a few bucks in parts and can return to using the cooler for it’s intended purpose.

Don’t think of them as disasters, think of them as learning experiences! In my experience there is enough difference between AG and extract that there will always be a learning curve. Take it in stride and keep at it.

I don’t understand this^^^. It takes 15 minutes to heat the mash water, 1 minutes to stir in grain. Then you do nothing for 60-90 minutes.
During that time, I’d think you’d have plenty of time to fix dinner, clean up, prepare for the boil and your boil pot is not competing with your dinner pot.

Try it some time. I think you find that it does not take the time you’ve imangined.


First of all WOW! This got a lot of attention. Second, my first two attempts were with absolutely 0% knowledge. My girlfriends cousin asked if I wanted to make beer and I of course was ecstatic. He had done it before so I was just an observer, we did however use awful local tap water and used bleach to sanitize the carboy. Needless to say the beer tasted like chlorine water with a hint of orange. Second batch was a all-grain recipe that I found for a christmas ale composed of a nice brown ale with dark chocolate, cloves, and allspice. I’m not sure if I wrote it down wrong but it tasted like a christmas punch in the face almost like eating a spruce tree. It was also wayyyy to carbonated since 1/2 the bottles literally exploded. I decided to try on my own with 2 extract kits and gain the fundamentals. First brown ale tastes great, my wheat which I swapped my own hops added some lemon zest too gets bottled sunday. I just think the different parts of the AG intimidate me, the protein rest, sacch’ rest, mash out. Im still very new and plan on getting my feet wet with a AG next batch! I also have an endless supply of bottles since a friend owns his own bar and saves all the pry off bottles for me in return for beer!

Yeah, posting an “extract vs. AG” question on a beer forum is sort of like posting a “presbyterian vs. lutheran” question on a religion forum… :cheers:

Yeah, posting an “extract vs. AG” question on a beer forum is sort of like posting a “presbyterian vs. lutheran” question on a religion forum… :cheers: [/quote]

No kidding. Just for kicks, mention that extract doesn’t make real beer. :wink: You might get death threats.

jafstl38, search for batch sparge and Denny’s method. You see that it’s a simple process.

Clifford we meet again and how weird I started with Mr. Beer too. When I found out that it costed me roughly $25 for extract that only yielded 2 Gallons and NB had $13 Cream ale for 5 gallons, I knew that I was wasting my budget with LME. Now don’t get me wrong Extract beer yields beautiful beer, but I have to say that making AG beer is definitely much more fun and educational. It gives you a chance to make several DIY projects like building a mashtun, welding brewstand together, making a mash paddle, and other things you need. When you make beer on a tight budget you come up with creative ideas that just seem down right crazy.

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