So I’ve done 4 or 5 extract batches here, but what do I do now? Is there upgrading? What’s the difference between all grain and extract? Is there really any difference? What new equipment would I need to move up the ranks as they say? Any advice is helpful. Thank you.
You can continue with extract to learn more about ingredients, especially water and all those different yeast strains. Call it a continuing education course leading to partial mash brewing as a possible next step.
Stick for a while with extract. Did this for two years. Before i moved up to. Partial grain. And now at the brewery full grain. Did learn lots with. Extract brewing. Different steps. Grains. Yeast
If you’re brewing what you like and liking what you brew, this could be a good time to add another hobby.
Is there a style or recipe that you want to brew that can’t be done as an extract + crystal malts recipe? If so, learn about BIAB (brew-in-a-bag) or mash-in-a-bag. No reason to wait two years to start mashing if you’re interested in the style / recipe.
Here is a short list of additional ideas:
Get an AHA membership. Brew one recipe from Zymurgy magazine when the latest issue is published. Back issues (back to 2000) are available online for additional inspiration.
The four books in the “brewing elements” series (if you are thinking of starting a brewery some day ) . If it’s just a hobby, then either “Book Recommendation (for an All-Grain Newbie)” or “What books have you all read?”
There are lots of options as to where to go from here…
Many brewers are happy with doing kits. You can get into trying to perfect the water chemistry and temperature control to perfect it. There are tons of good kits out there.
You can also get into what was referred to as kitbashing back when I was really into model building and model railroading. It is taking a kit and modifying it in some way. I did this with a few kits before moving on, because I have a hard time leaving things alone. There’s no reason why anyone else needs to do things the way I have.
From kitbashing (which I started with my second kit, lol), I moved to making my own recipes and partial mashing. I was doing partial boils and BIAB mashing. If I would ever go back to that sort of thing, I would probably build a mini-mash tun instead of doing BIAB for a number of reasons, but a lot of them are my preference.
From partial mashes I moved outdoors to my own recipes and all grain. I loved the challenge of building my own recipes and brewing exactly what I enjoy. It’s not for everyone, especially as fast as I progressed along. But I’m happy with how it worked for me.
When I started brewing I did 2 extract kits, then switched to all grain in less then a month. I enjoyed starting from grain and tasting what adding a little of this or that would add to the beer. I’m sure there’s a lot to experiment with extract too. Brew in a bag doesn’t take much equipment.
It really depends on what motivates you. I did extract for a couple of years before switching to all grain. My main reason for switching to all grain was to have more control over the outcome of my brewing efforts. I wanted to get a little higher on the “I Made This” ladder. I also went All Grain because, my family didn’t like the smell of boiling extract in the house. I know…that’s crazy talk!
brewb- Start off with PM (partial mash) batches. Take a look at Denny’s site and read up on his cooler mashtun system- easily put together with stuff you can get at Wally world. Read J.P.'s “How to Brew”. Spend way too much time on this forum, as well as any others you like.
Then pick a PM recipe, mash 5-6 lbs. of grain and add your extract.
After a couple of these you’ll know the quirks of your system and will feel very comfortable going all the way to AG. Or not, it’s all good.
- Larger pot and propane burner for full-boil extract.
- Temperature control for fermentation.
- Mash tun for all grain brewing.
For me, getting precise control of fermentation temps did more to improve my beer than anything else I’ve done.
Getting my mash tun (cooler,) and going all-grain gave me more personal satisfaction than any other upgrade. You can make or modify any recipe so much easier; it really feels like MY beer. BTW, I use BIAB, in a cooler, not a bazooka or false bottom.
Kegs are totally unnecessary, and can really suck the money from your wallet, but they’re such a luxury and convenience. I’ve never seen a poster say, “I tried kegging, but I’m sticking to bottles.” I know I’m not going back to bottling.
I’ve never pulled the trigger on the big brew pot, I prefer to make 3-gallon all grain batches on my kitchen stove. But many here prefer 5- and 10- gallon batches, that’s totally up to you. I may still do this but I don’t really have a safe spot to work with a propane burner on my property.
There is no required order for these, change what you want to, when you want to, or don’t if you’re happy with what you’re doing.
Water chemistry adjustments are also a big deal for many, but pointless for extract brewing. If/when you get comfortable with all-grain maybe look there.
In my opinion Partial Mash has the pains of AG and Extract brewing, without really adding much. I’ve done a couple PM brews, but basically stick with all grain for my 3-gallon brews, or I’ll get an extract kit if I want 5-gallons. If I had a bigger pot, and a place to brew with it I’d All grain 5 gallons too.
Go where the hobby leads you. If you want to do all grain jump right in its not a step by step thing
I thank you all for your awesome responses, although I’m still not sure where to go. I have a timeline set to open my own craft brewery in about 4 years. I’m assuming none of the craft breweries use extract brewing? And I’ve learned from you all that there is a partial mash? And all grain. I feel like there is some learning involved to find out what grains make what flavors and such. I definitely feel the need to know this since I want this to be more than a hobby. Again I’m still kind of confused and new to this, maybe I need to do some research to the techniques you all listed above. Thank you again.
Ps. Kama citra is the bomb digitty.
4 years is pretty ambitious… also, there’s a weird jump between homebrewing and commercial that I don’t even know how to traverse.
Definitely get into all grain… look into water treatment, yeast management, string together a bunch of beer. Perfect a few house styles- make a pale ale. Make another. And another. Compare notes, adjust and do another until you’ve absolutely nailed the style. Keep on making it while you do the same experiments with a stout. Over and over again, until you nail it. Eventually, you’ll have a library of “flagships” that you can knock out consistently.
I know this sounds like I’m being a wet blanket, but don’t be that guy who opens a taproom after a couple of years of homebrewing only to serve really bad beer. There are a few of those around and it makes me sad. If you really do want to go pro, you’ve got a lot of work ahead of you. I don’t know that 4 years is enough without also doing some formal education or apprenticeship. But hell, it should be fun to try to get there, so who am I to say anything against it…
Better just do all grain. How do you know you want to start a brewery? Your best bet is to hire yourself a good brew master to help you get started and mentor you. Lot of crappy brewers out there like @uberculture says so if you really want to do it do it right.
I second both recommendations above! Sneezles61
@brew_cat’s question deserves serious attention.
Or, from a different perspective, consider starting down the path by
- building the reputation of being one of the best all grain brewers in your region
- backing up that reputation by being one of the most approachable homebrewers in your region
- enhancing that reputation by being one of best evaluaters of beer in your region
Beer evaluation skills can be learned by pursuing BJCP certification. Judging beers opens the opportunity to network with really great brewers. While your getting your BJCP, volunteer to be a steward at beer judging events - servring beers to judges opens the opportunity to network with really great brewers. And show up at bottle sorts for those events - again it opens the opportunity to network with really great brewers.
If you’re not already a member of a homebrew club, join one.
Brewers Publications is a good resource to build your brewing reference library. ProBrewer.com may also be a good resource (reality check? wet blanket?) as you move along in developing your homebrewing skills.
If you didn’t already ask for opinions on good homebrewing books, insert a wet blanket here as this was already suggested, and that may be your simplest next step.
From what I have read and from a good friend who made a go of it with a brewery, new aspiring brewers break out along two lines. Young, low overhead types sans much money or families who apprentice themselves out, sometimes for minimum wage ( or less) just to learn and get their foot in the door…OR well bankrolled, well strategized, older folks, often with a wife and kids, who have another source of revenue to limit the amount of risk(my friends situation to a tee.) often these second types have been home brewing for years, or hire an experienced brewer from the git-go. If you’re not falling into one of these 2 camps…getting out wet blanket…
I did for about two years extract brewing. And the second year started changing recipy adding more grains. More dme. Full boil. Brews. Than i moved to biab. Now got with min investment a all grain brew system. Would say. Do it now four months. Real happy with all grain. Besides. Brewing at home do work at a brewery. Creating. Recipy. Actually the brew master. Its fun. But. More work. To make extra cash. But starting my own brewery. I dont think so. The investment to much money. Even the system i work with. And fermentors. A cool system to brew with. The amount of money the owner invested. For a micro brewery. A big pile of cash. And he even says. He did wish. He did buy a bigger system. Now we do brew full swing. But your idea. Way cool to start your own brewery. But would say. Become fam first with. All grain brewing
@voodoo_donut nailed it. The people who bank roll the brewery make the money. It’s a young mans game… single, no kids, minimal bills. Look at brewing jobs. They don’t make a lot of money.
You forgot, they can’t have a life either… the need to make brews, and sell, and pay the peeps with the checkbook, is paramount … Sneezles61
It for me one day a week brewing every saturday. At the brewery. A long day. Start at 8. Maybe done at 11. Besides brewing. Cleaning. While waiting for the mash to be done. Transfering beer to kegs. And repeat the process. By the time i am home around. 12. Ok after brew session over. And beer in fermentor. All done cleaning. Its time for beer