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Extract vs All grain

New home brewer here with only a few batches under my belt. I started with 1 gallon all grain kits from Austin Homebrew and really enjoyed the process. When it was time to order more…the one gallon all grain kits were on back order so I ordered my own grain bills instead. Well, with such a small batch some of the specialty grain were calculating out at 2 oz or less. You can’t order these grains in less than 4 oz increments so there was a lot of waste. This pushed me to NH where I ordered a few one gallon kits but the kits were extract. Extract recipes intimidated me but went with it anyway. Yes, I realize that’s completely opposite from most.

I was surprised to see the recipes I received. Same extract for both Sierra Madre and Caribou Slobber. Yes, they are different specialty grains but we are only talking 4 oz. Are the two brews really 85% the same with a few specialty grains, hops, and yeast making worlds of difference when finished? I realize the yeast grows exponentially. This is all so fascinating to me.

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Specialty grains and the yeast can make all the difference. The yeast, and how it is used, makes the greatest difference in the final results.

I asked myself the same question, so I performed an experiment. I picked up 6 lbs of malt extract, 1oz of hops, and US-05 (dry yeast used for just about anything), T-58 (dry saison/belgian yeast), and W34/70 (dry lager yeast). I brewed 5 gallons then split into 2-one-gallon fermentors and 1 Mr. Beer LBK. The end result is that I got three very different beers. The lager tastes roasty from the dark extract, the belgian tastes funky, and the US-05 tastes hoppy. Exact same wort split from the same brew pot, three different beers.

Amazon has a free preview of “Yeast” by Jamil Z and Chris White. The brewer that writes the intro (available via free preview) addresses this as well by stating that in his brewery they have seen wildly different results by fermenting the same wort with different yeasts.

Toss different hops and different specialty grains on top of different yeast and you have a completely different beer made from the same extract. Think about this also, change 15% of my DNA and I am a slug instead of having opposable thumbs necessary to crack open my homebrew.


Excellent experiment.

I definitely need to try this

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Specialty grains are the seasoning, and base malt is the meat. Changing the seasoning changes everything.

That’s actually a really good analogy.

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