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Keg system or move to all grain

So I hope I post this question clearly.
I am ready to make my next move in brewing. Currently I bottle from partial mash. Is y’alls opinion that I should move to all grain and continue bottling or stick with partial grain and start kegging? I can only make one move at a time and am not sure which way to go. Thoughts, suggestions? Any help would be appreciated.

Joe

go all grain.
I just did and my beer is so much better!

Which do you value more:

  • saving time on bottling/kegging day?
  • greater ability to craft your masterpieces?

Either is a great upgrade. If you really hate bottling, switch to kegging. Conversely, your cost to upgrade either way will be about the same. So, given that grain is a lot cheaper than malt extract for the same beer, there will be some savings on ingredients switching to AG. If you brew enough, those savings could add up quickly. Theoretically, you could switch to AG and use the savings to invest in a keg system down the road. That rational may even work with SHMBO!

Personally I went to kegging first and then went to all grain. I lucked into a kegging set up that was a really good deal and that was the actual reason, but I feel I was making really good beer with extracts and partial mashes and wanted to get the whole brewing part of the process down better before switching to all grain. By doing the kegging first, I was able to do that.

You can switch to AG for nothing more than the cost of a couple of nylon paint-strainer bags (and a bigger kettle perhaps) and you’ll be saving money on every batch after that, so it’ll pay for itself. So you can actually do both if you wish.

thats what i was gonna suggest MIAB and do both thats my plan.

why can you only do one at a time? neither is rocket science. the cost differential is great enough (kegging >> AG) that most folks keg well after they’ve been AG’ing. But, doing them at the same time doesn’t really cost that much more assuming you have the cash available for kegging, that is.

I guess I just don’t understand but that’s not important. If I were doing only one at a time, I’d do AG first just so I could enjoy the taste benefits sooner.

cheers

I went with a full wort boil and a kegging system first (at around the same time) before I went all grain. By the early 1980s I had already been brewing for 12 years (from extract) and was happy with the results. The full wort boil massively improved the already acceptable extract brews, and the kegging made packaging and serving easier.
After less than a year of full boil extract and kegging, I did go all grain.
Again, massively improved beer and as a bonus my batches from then on cost well under 1/3 of what extract brewing was costing me.

The way I chose did make my upgrade to all grain easier and less intimidating as well as less expensive to complete, since at that point I already had some of the key components in place. In fact, at that point, pretty much all I had to buy (besides the grain) was a $20 Gott/Rubbermaid cooler for the mash, and a wort chiller that Al Andrews made for me for just a bit more than that (which I’m still using).

But really, the way I see it, whichever way you choose to go with first is a win. Either one takes you to a new and better level.

I don’t know if I’ll ever go to kegging, but I went to all-grain to have complete control over my beer.

+1 I would do both.
Even if you don’t start kegging yet, with the recent price increases I highly recommend picking up kegs any time you can find them at a decent price.

I started kegging about 10 years before switching to all grain. If you already have a fridge that will keep your kegs cold, drink a lot of beer, are pleased with the quality of your partial mash/extract brews, and don’t like the bottle chores, kegging is the way to go.

Its a tough decision to make. If you are happy with the beer that you make but want less processing then go to kegging. If you want to improve the beer that you make but are fine with bottling the go to all grain.

Personally I went to kegging before AG because I hated bottling and I wanted a kegerator.

In retrospect if i were to do it again I would go AG before kegging because it can be very cheap and easy to go AG. Where as if you take your time and peice together a kegging kit it can be real cheap, ie regulator, cylinder, keg fridge etc.

The biggest issue between the two is honestly cost of kegs themselves. When I started pin lock were harder to find and ball lock was the way to go. Now it has reversed a little bit and pin lock are slightly cheaper. Either way you go if you find a good deal on kegs buy AS MANY AS YOU CAN. Obviously dependant on how much you brew/drink.

Regardless of decision new beer toys are awesome.

As an all-grain brewer & kegger, I’d like to add a few comments here…
First of all, I still bottle & extract brew on occasion. Those are valuable skills I learned & sometimes it makes sense to use them for what I’m doing.
Secondly, I’d like to state there are many advantages to kegging beyond being sick of bottle day chores. Ever pulled a fresh draft in your kitchen for an unexpected guest? Let me tell you it’s a nice feeling! And for those bigger brews it’s great to pour fresh, cold 6 ounces at a time. My point is there’s more to kegging than avoiding bottling.
Ultimately the choice is yours. All grain opens more options for recipie construction & variety of flavor, kegging allows you to enjoy what you produce in different ways. I will say you can probably get into all-grain brewing cheaper, but for me, if you told me I had to give one up, it wouldn’t be my 4 beautiful taps in my kitchen!

Keg!

thats what i was gonna suggest MIAB and do both thats my plan.[/quote]

This ^^^ is the way to go! I spent under $50 switching from partial mash to all grain and that was because I bought a turkey frier which came with the larger pot that I needed for all grain. Large grain sacks cost maybe $4 or so. That’s all you need to
‘Brew In A Bag’. If you’re partial mashing your like 90% of the way there. The cost is minimal.

Kegging will cost more of course, but you can switch to all grain and start piecing together a kegging system now. Buy a few things at a time and within a short period of time, you’ll be pouring drafts at home! Which really just kicks a$$ compared to bottling. And look for used kegging gear online. No need to buy new. Craig’s list is a great place to buy a used fridge or chest freezer. You can also find home brewers selling off equipment at reasonable prices. I built my dual tap kegerator which includes the fridge, 3 cornies, 2 tap tower, upgraded tap handles, CO2 tank, regulator with Y splitter and all the needed lines and connections for just about $350.

Do both keg system and brew in a bag for all grain… saves you time and money

I was motivated by time constraints to go for kegging first; and although am mashing now, I have held off investing too much into full mashing until I can brew 10 to 15 gallons at a time…again reducing the amount of work involved to fit my current schedule.

it’s been said repeatedly that brewing in a bag is a cheap intro; but I do prefer to use a mash tun of which I have a 5 gal and a 10 gal cooler with steel braids.

I find that it’s very enjoyable to keg compared to the bottling; growlers are nice too and when I travel each week for work, I take a couple of growlers to share for dinner.

I just started kegging. It was 100% due to the fact that I was DONE bottling. I’ve been brewing every 2 weeks so it seemed like I was always filling, moving, chilling, rinsing, drying and storing bottles. I had bottles conditioning in my closet, empties all over the kitchen, Breakfast nook, basement, etc.

I got home from work on Friday and realized I had two batches that needed to go in to bottles. I was not looking forward to having to fill over 110 bottles. I drove to the home brew store and spent some cash. Even with setting things up, cleaning, changing O rings and sanitizing, I had both batches kegged and in the keezer in under two hours.

All grain is next, but again, Done bottling unless I choose to.

[quote=“darthmorgoth”]I was motivated by time constraints to go for kegging first; and although am mashing now, I have held off investing too much into full mashing until I can brew 10 to 15 gallons at a time…again reducing the amount of work involved to fit my current schedule.

it’s been said repeatedly that brewing in a bag is a cheap intro; but I do prefer to use a mash tun of which I have a 5 gal and a 10 gal cooler with steel braids.

I find that it’s very enjoyable to keg compared to the bottling; growlers are nice too and when I travel each week for work, I take a couple of growlers to share for dinner.[/quote]

Agreed to all. Isn’t it interesting that these two very different topics ended up on one thread? Kegging is simply a way to despense your beer, where all grain is a way of making it. I think kegging brings up more financial issues with more expense, where all grain is really a matter of skill level. It can be done with quite minimal, inexpensive equipment, but requires a quantum leap in knowlege of the beer making process. I’m not that familiar with the “brew in a bag” technique, but for someone looking to keep things simple all grain is probably a poor choice no matter what you choose to mash in. Extract quality is excellent these days and there are awards at almost every home brew competition for beers made with extract. To anyone thinking of all-grain brewing, ask yourself a few simple questions first:

-Are my extract brews just OK or excellent?
-Am I bored with what I can produce using extract?
-Do I have the extra 2 to 3 hours per brew day to produce a proper mash?
-Am I willing to learn about water chemistry, and the effects of varying temeratures on the mash?

In my opinion, unless you answered excellent to the first question, you should probably stick with extract brewing until you can. If your processes and fermentation managemnet are the best they can be, you should be able to make an excellent extract brew. If they aren’t, your all-grain brews aren’t likely to be much better. Keep reading, keep learning, and above all keep brewing!!!

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