One thing everyone who brews their own beer at home needs to consider is wheter to brew with extract or do all grain brewing. No matter what you choose, remember that homebrewing should be about doing what you enjoy without considering what anyone else thinks about the way you brew. The most important thing is to enjoy the hobby and have fun. There are pros and cons to both extract brewing and all grain and everything is discussed in this blog post.
Extract Brewing or All Grain? Guide to Choosing
The reason why this is the first tip is because it is the natural progression for any homebrewer. You typically start with extract for its low start costs, less room for error, and limited time needed. Extract brewing is great for these reasons. However, a negative aspect with brewing with extract is the lack of creative freedom. The varieties of malt extract available is limited. When you make a brew with malt extract as the base of the beer, you are held back to the limits of the malt extract. No matter what other ingredients you add to the brew, the base will play a huge part. Think of it as a pizza, no matter what toppings you put on it, the base will largely determine the outcome of the pizza.
We are not saying that extract is bad in any way. In fact, it is the opposite. Malt extracts are produced by professionals who specialise in the process of turning grain into malt extract. They have control over the science and have taken care of all of the hard work so that you don´t have to. This means that the resulting quality of your brew can be high even though there is limited creative freedom. Even some professional breweries brew with extract. Therefore we would recommend beginners and intermediates to brew with all grain.
All Grain Brewing
If you want to explore and customize the full range of flavors, aromas and colors in your brewing, then moving to all grain is the natural step. It is the purest form of beer brewing where you can decide the outcome of your beer with full creative freedom. You are not limited to a base of ingredients. Think of it as baking a cake from scratch instead of using a pre made cake kit. It is more challenging to get the outcome you want, but you can make it customised for your specific preferences. Another advantage of all grain brewing is that the ingredient price is much lower than with extract. If you plan on making 100 batches of beer, you could save a lot by going all grain.
While the ingredients are cheap, the equipment can be expensive. You need to invest in significantly more equipment in all grain brewing in relation to extract, so the total cost comes down to how much you are going to brew.
Another disadvantage of all grain brewing is that it is a much longer process. It involves additional steps that you do not have to go through when brewing with extract. It involves mashing and sparging, which makes the process much longer. You also have to clean up more equipment since you have used more equipment while brewing. Noone likes cleaning up. All grain brewing will typically take around five to eight hours to complete. This can be more than twice the time typically spent on brewing with extract. You would need to set aside a whole day for brewing with all grain, while an extract brew could be completed after you come home from work. Many brewers see the time needed for all gain not as a negative, but rather a positive aspect since this is their hobby and something they enjoy spending time doing.
It´s about preference!
There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing extract or all grain brewing. It comes down to your preferences. It is even possible to switch between them based on what beer you want and how much time you have. We recommend considering all aspects debated in this article when deciding what is right for you.
What do you prefer? All grain or extract brewing? Why? Let us know in the comment section.