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I have brewed a few batches of beer using pre-measured kits.

They have turned out great, and have I have enjoyed them. However, I would like to make the move towards all grain brewing.

Is this a difficult move to make? Any good advice?

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It's a bit hard to tell what you are asking. Do you want to make the move from kits to designing recipes, or do you want to make the move from extract to all grain? They aren't the same thing. –  Nathan Oct 23 '11 at 1:03
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5 Answers 5

If you're not ready to jump into all-grain, but want to start moving in that direction I would first start thinking outside the boxkit and formulate your own extract recipes. Just taking that step can teach you a lot about brewing.

You start to learn the characteristics of different malts and hops, as well as being introduced to a vast array of yeast. You can begin experimenting with adjuncts and start to better define the characteristics of different beer styles. Unless you're going to copy all-grain recipes verbatim, you'll need to get a feel for these things eventually.

Grab one of the books listed on this post and start learning and experimenting. Depending on the depth of knowledge you crave, the path to all-grain can be short or very long.

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I wouldn't be surprised if I got down-voted for the "outside the boxkit" comment...sorry, I couldn't help myself XD –  Room3 May 25 '10 at 14:43
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You can start brewing all grain easily with my "Cheap'n'Easy" system. I've been using it for 407 batches now. See www.dennybrew.com for info.

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This was answered here: http://brewadvice.com/questions/116/about-going-all-grain

Let me know if that answers your question.

Edit:

Switch from BA to the new site didn't fix all links. Here's where it was meant to go:

About going all-grain

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That link has nothing to do with the OP's question. –  Bill Craun Oct 22 '11 at 3:25
    
The question was really about moving from extract kits to all-grain. the link is about recipe formulation and recording. –  Tobias Patton Oct 22 '11 at 15:45
    
The link is from the old site, and apparently it isn't coming across properly. Edited. –  hookedonwinter Oct 25 '11 at 14:50
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PJ's link above is the answer. Only thing I'd mention is that plenty of places sell all grain kits as well (Northern Brewer, MoreBeer, etc.). I think it's a good idea to start with one of their kits. Once you get your process down, then go on to formulate your own recipes. IMHO, you're likely to get the best results that way.

But some people like to just dive into creating their own recipes, and do really well. Whatever works best for you.

Also, why not try formulating an extract recipe while you're learning the all grain routine? All of my best extract brews were based on what I learned from kits but with tweaks here and there (change up the hops, yeast, specialty grains, etc. to what you think will work best--make a few changes and the recipe becomes your own).

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I think it's a great way to start brewing (full-disclosure: I started with kits). The first few batches come with a steep learning curve, and a kit teaches you a lot about fermenting and bottling--it let's you brew without really having to brew.

Since you're getting past your kits then the next step is quite easy--you'll probably want to try some all-extract recipes. Extract is either liquid or dry, but in either case it's not pre-mixed like many kits are. You'll need to brew for the full boil-time, adding hops at the right intervals, and in general you'll be more involved in brewing the wort.

After a couple basic all-extract recipes you can try steeping some specialty grains. Steeping is putting a toe in the all-grain water. You essentially make a teabag of grains and need to monitor the water temp during the steep/mash, but the grain-to-extract ratio is low, so you have quite a bit of leeway.

After you're comfortable with controlling your water temp and watching the clock then you're in good shape to try all-grain. Start with a simple recipe; look into a no-sparge method (it requires less equipment and less precision--and can have better results, at the marginal extra cost of lost efficiency), and make beer--by this point you'll likely have no problem.

Overall the key is to have fun and understand what you're doing--you don't have to know the chemistry, but a little confidence is always good.


Side note:

I started brewing from Mr. Beer kits (2.5 gallon batches), after a batch or two I was hooked (and knew enough to move forward) so I decided to augment my kit with equipment that helped me with my small batches, but also would be necessary for 5 gallon batches. I bought racking equipment, bottling gear, then a couple 3-gallon carboys (which I still use--I split a 5 gallon batch in 2 and can experiment with half the beer), etc. This approach let me spread the cost over a year or two, and meant that by the time that I was equipped for larger batches I had all the kinks worked out.

I really advocate this approach of start small and scale-up; it's a great way to learn to brew without having to find a way to use 50 bottles of skanky-accident-beer. There's nothing wrong with starting from a kit, and after you outgrow it it makes a great hand-me-down (which, in turn, is a great way to recruit a set of hands to help you brew)

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