The Many Different Ways to Homebrew

Ever wonder about the different styles of brewing? Why some people brew extract and some all-grain, and what is this partial mash thing? If you're thinking about starting to homebrew, or if you're currently an extract brewer looking for the next step, then this will help you like it did me!

 

Extract

The easiest style of brewing. Best for beginners to get their feet wet without having to buy expensive equipment. Called extract brewing because you use malt extract (dry or liquid) as a sugar source instead of all-grains (hence the name). Depending on your skill level, an extract brew day can take 2-3 hours. Just because you're an extract brewer doesn't mean you can't make great, high quality, beer, but you do miss out on the full range of ingredient control and brewing variations that are possible with All-Grain. Extract is the best way to start and master the general process of brewing beer, but to really get into the art of brewing beer you have to make your way towards All-Grain with each variation of brewing getting you closer to your final goal.

 

Extract with Steeping Grain

Adding steeping grains is the next step towards becoming a real brewing master. By adding steeping grains and doing a short mash you can make your beer even finer. Steeping grains do not add a lot of time, but now gives you the ability to customize your brew; focus on nuances and really fine-tune your malt flavor.

Tip - make sure you crush your grains, but NOT the flaked ones. If you forget to crush them here in store, no problem! You can crush them by simply using a rolling pin over them, the idea is you want to crack the husks and not pulverize them in a food processor.

Make sure to steep your grain between 145 to 158 degrees Fahrenheit. If you steep them at a higher temperature then you risk extracting too many tannins from the grain husk. Beer that has too many tannins will be astringent, meaning it will have a drying sensation on your palate which is not always a desirable trait.

 

Partial Mash

The next step up on your way to All-grain is getting a portion of fermentable sugars from grain while still using malt extract. With each step we wean you off malt extract. This is not a difficult process, just requires a little more time and attention.

Extra equipment may be required at this stage; good thermometer, bigger brew kettle, and an aquarium pump and aeration stone to oxygenate the wort.

As far as the steps, it's the same as a full mash All-Grain process. However, less grain is used making it a simpler process. Gaining experience here will make going to All-Grain that much easier. Partial Mash is also helpful for brewing beers that don't have a malt extract equivalent (rauch malt, vienna malt, mild malt, etc...). It simply gives you more freedom to brew more experimental brews.

 

All-Grain

The pinnacle of homebrew! This is the purest form of beermaking and the method by which you can have the greatest influence over the outcome of your beer. Brewing with only grain is how most professional brewers make beer. Malt extract is expensive, so going all grain will save ya a buck or two, though you'll just end up spending it on the new equipment you'll need. You'll need a bigger brew pot (at least 8 gallons), mash ton, hot liquor tank, false bottom, immersion wort chiller, and more depending on how far you want to go. With each step up the process has become longer, we're now at a brew day lasting 4 - 8 hours.

The very basic explanation of All-Grain is soaking crushed, malted, grains in hot water to go from starch to sugar, then drain away the sugary liquid, which is your wort. Once you have the wort in the brew pot then follow the same extract process you've been using so far. The big issue here is that you now have to do full volume boils and no longer can opt for partials.

At this point you're well on your way to being a master brewer. There's no beer that you can't make! Get creative and try putting your own spin on old favorites. If you ever have any questions or need help going from one level to the next then call or stop by! We're here to help you to create the best beer you can imagine.

 

Cheers!

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