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The cost of stepping up to all grain..and is it worth it?

Just want to know if its really worth the cost to switch from extract to all grain brewing. I priced it out, and I’m looking at about 340.00 bucks worth of upgrades… The Deluxe All Grain Starter Kit (199.99), Dark Star Burner (49.99) and 8 gallon Tall Boy Kettle (89.99)…not currently in stock… and i already have the copper wort chiller…will my brews be that much better?..is there any way to cut back on the cost, or would the quality of brews suffer by looking for cheaper products? So far Ive only done a few extract brews, but I am pretty comfortable with the process, would you suggest jumping or sticking with extract for a few more brews?

Don’t buy the all grain starter kit. It costs way more than it should. Check out the brew in a bag method. It’s a very cheap and easy way to try/jump into all grain. That or check out dennybrew.com for a cheap build for a mash tun. It shouldn’t cost you a whole lot to go all grain. Plus you save money in the long run.

I have now brewed 4 all-grain batches after almost 20 years of extract brewing (with several lengthy breaks). It is absolutely worth it. My beer is much better, and I love the greater control of the malt bill. My advice would be to skip the $200 all grain kit and look into building your own mash tun. Check out Denny’s website for a lot of great advice. I’m not particularly handy, and I was able to build a cooler mash tun without any problem for well under $50. I also recommend a 10 gallon kettle instead of 8 gallon. I went with 8 gallon to save a few bucks and I hate it. Too much boilover risk. Finally dont forget that you will need a chiller for full wort boils. I saved a few bucks by making mine, but if I had it to do over again I might just buy one. The copper tubing can be hard to work with. Good luck!

Don’t get me wrong, it is definitely an investment, but it’s worth it. Check out the bayou classic kettles and burners, cheap coolers with a drilled stopper with 5/16" tubing and a braided hose clamped to it. Works great and ddoesn’t cost much. But you don’t need to get the starter kits or anything. For 5 gallon batches, anywhere from 36qt to 52qt ought to be plenty big. I prefer the round style coolers. It’s what I started with and it’s what I’ve gone back to after trying other methods. Search around the forums and see what other people are doing; see what looks best to you.

You don’t need any fancy equipment. I’m living proof of that. I’ve brewed about 70 all-grain batches over the past ~8 years without owning a turkey fryer or a fly sparge system or a chiller or any of that hullabaloo. All you need is a big friggin grain bag or two, a stovetop, and more than one kettle, and you’re golden. You barely need to spend a dime to get into all grain, and not a dime at all if you’ve got a grain bag or two already. I just brewed 5 gallons with ease on my stovetop a few days ago. Sure it requires a couple of kettles but it works. I’ve got a 4-gallon, a 3-gallon, and a 2-gallon, all stainless (two of them are SUPPOSED to be for cooking / making soup and chili / etc.), so I just use two or even three if I need to. You can mash in a cooler if you’ve got one, or else split the mash between two kettles. Boil in two kettles. With practice, the entire process from heating your water to final cleanup can be done in 4.5 hours. I chill by immersion in a tub sink with snow and cold water. Gets down to pitching temperature in roughly 45 minutes, or 60 minutes max = good enough.

What Dave said above. Do it. It’s cheap and easy.

I too do all grain in the kitchen on the kitchen stove. I used to do small batches or double half-batches, using my 5gallon extract pot, but then got a second pot (4 gallon) to do full 5 gallon batches at one setting. I can boil, without fear of boil overs, up to 7 gallons split between the two pots.

See my AG in the kitchen fotki album for more info.

As I recall, my total investment for upgrade is approximately $50. My mashtun is a 5 gallon round cooler from wallyworld (about $20); the nylon bags that I use in the tun instead of a braided hose connected to the drain are 2 for $4.00 at HD and I’m still using the first one of two (almost 3 years); the drain hose, bung, and valve were about $10 from our host; and the second SS (4G) pot was $15 at BigLots. And yes, it is definitely worth it.

cheers.

One more endorsement for BIAB. If you’ve been doing extract, the total cost to step up to all grain with BIAB is about $2 for a paint strainer bag from the hardware store.

Yet another BIAB endorsement here. The money you save in ingredients will make up for the cost of equipment about halfway through the first batch.

If you decide you like that but want to upgrade to a cooler mash tun, check out some of the other cheap’n easy DIY setups folks post on the Internet. I can’t claim to have any science on this myself, but my taste buds promise me that the price of the mash tun is inversely proportional to the quality of beer that’s being made with it.

I do just what it says above and have got 28 batches of all grain so far. never dumped any yet.
I think I spent 110$ on equipment and do 4 gal batches. sure I would like to do 10 gal at a time but if I wait I know that I’ll find that turkey fryer for 20$ somewhere . its that SS 15 gal kettle that’s going to set me back.

  1. Yes it is worth it.

  2. Yes, as the other point out, it does not have to break the bank if you don’t want it to.

  1. Ahhh :?

Besides brew in a bag, also considder Denny’s easy cooler system. If I had it to do all over again, I probably would still splurge for some of the more expensive gear I have, but would likely simplify a little.

:lol:

I’m not sure this is true. For me, the savings have definitely gone into purchasing even more for my hobby. Oh well.

:cheers:

Be aware that any savings will be re-allocated into more brewing paraphernalia.

If noone has said this already, check out dennybrew.com for a cheap and easy mashtun desing that’ll run you maybe $50. I think its superior to the BIAB just from a material handling point. And get a 10gal kettle if possible, although a turkey fryer setup from a local big box store would get you started. I wouldn’t try doing 5gal batches on a stove, did a lot of 2-3gal batches like Dave in my early AG career. A Corona or Victory mill is a cheap way to crush your own grain too.

With all this in mind, yes AG is definitely worth it. It adds a whole other dimension to the hobby and gives you a lot to learn about.

All grain is more rewarding and definitely 100% worth the money if you love brewing but do not waste your money of that overpriced setup, its for suckers. As beersk said check out www.dennybrew.com, for a guideline on batch sparging and how to build a mash tun. Here’s another link and what I based mine tun off of, its a little prettier but does the same exact thing http://www.brewmorebeer.com/building-a-cooler-mash-tun/

With the money you “save” on the mash tun I’d definitely add in a wort chiller if you don’t have one, a high quality thermometer which will become very important, such as a thermopen, and a pack of colorphast PH strips. Took me 30 batches to get one but having your own grain mill is also beautiful thing to have.

I’ve used the Cheap’n’Easy system for 16 years and over 450 batches. I teach classes based on it. The AHA features it as a guide to all grain brewing…http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/l … ed/videos/ or http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/l … t-brewing/ .

Yes, it’s definitely worth it though it does add a couple more hours to your brew session, so if time is a consideration for you it may not be. A 6 lb jug of extract is $16, buying 2-row base malt by the sack I can get the same yield for around $6 , specialty grains will be the same unless you buy them in bulk too. Even not buying base malt in bulk it’s still considerably less.

I batch sparge with a cooler the Denny way but as mentioned above, bag brewing is pretty popular and efficient. I’ve yet to try it but from my understanding all you need is a pot, a burner and a large straining bag. You can pick up 10 gallon aluminum pot for cheap, like this one for $32

. Your only real expense from there is a burner and a mill if you buy grain by the sack, you can get a Cereal Killer mill for a hundred bucks at Adventures in Homebrewing.

I like to go a little bigger than my cooler allows for my lagers, but the Denny brew system is precisely what I use on my ales for 5 gallon batches. Thanks to Denny and others on these fora! I think all grain is the way to go for most situations, but BIAB is fine for the occasional smaller batch for me! In the words of Denny…YMMV! Try things out and choose what works for you!

:cheers:

When you ask “is it worth it”, I have to ask back “what do you want to get out of it?”

If the goal is to simply make the highest quality beer possible, I would have to say no. Yes, there are some beers that can only be done well by all grain, but most can be made just as well using extract. I would focus on sanitation and fermentation dynamics (temperature control, yeast health and pitching rates) as more important things to do first to make the biggest difference in beer quality.

If on the other hand you want to really get into the details of brewing, and gain total control over your process, then AG is totally worth it.

If money is a major concern, and you plan to do this for a while, then you should definitely go to AG. It is MUCH cheaper per batch.

buy the kettle, buy the burner. Might I recommend this gentleman as well.

www.bagbrewer.com

Give him kettle dimensions, and he will sew you a bag that will last you hundreds of beers. Under $150, and you are ‘all grain’.

Grain is cheaper than extract as well.

dont buy any of the stuff you have listed…
Cooler setup should run you maybe 40-100 buying everything new.
Dont mess with an 8g kettle to small…you will hear some people chime in saying its fine its… really not

and yes it is worth it

Grain is a LOT cheaper than extract. Even factoring in the rising cost of grain, I find I can still make a 5 gal batch of ale that evokes the flavor and quality of commercial brews like Fuller’s ESB or SN Pale Ale for well under $15.

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