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I was wondering if it's possible to make a beer worthy of entering a competition that stands a chance of doing well. I'm still pretty new to brewing but wanted to know if I need to make the jump to all-grain before making a beer that's competition worthy.

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Not the same question as yours, but some of the answers address the same issue: homebrew.stackexchange.com/questions/2211/… –  Room3 Apr 29 '11 at 17:39
    
Great question, thanks for asking it. –  brewchez Apr 29 '11 at 20:03
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3 Answers

Sure, you can make a great tasting beer with malt extract alone... but you will be unable to make that beer stand out in competition, as it will lack originality and complexity. If you don't want to make the jump to all-grain just yet, you could try a couple partial mash batches. This will give you greater control over the final product, without going all out on all grain equipment.

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Disagree about the complexity and originality. You lose a little control over the mash properties of the base malt, but not all control. But the total recipe can most certainly be original and complex. Downvoted. –  brewchez Apr 29 '11 at 19:59
    
@brewchez I completely agree. –  theraccoonbrew Apr 29 '11 at 20:22
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I have judged in comps where an extract beer has taken best of show. It's a challenge, but there are certain styles that can be made well with extract and if you choose one of those and exercise great technique, you can definitely make an award winning beer with extract.

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Any advice on which styles work best, Denny? –  Ell May 25 '11 at 1:55
    
Things like wheat beers work well with extract. Both of the BOS extract beers I judged were dunkelweizens. –  Denny Conn Feb 15 at 16:58
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Most of what makes a great beer great is fermentation, not necessarily where the wort came from. Todays extracts are very high quality. And many extracts are becoming available to make wort you could only get as an all grainer. For example 100% Munich or Pilsner or English extracts.

Focus on a great fermentation and you will make great beer. Then if you move to all grain someday with a mastery of fermentation...man you'll be making unbelievable beer then!

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I would add that controlling the temperature of fermentation is perhaps more important than all-grain brewing. From Yeast by Chris White and Jamil Zainasheff: "One of the greatest things a brewer can do to improve his beer is manage the fermentation temperature. This is far more important than using fancy fermentors or even all-grain brewing." –  Dustin Rasener Apr 30 '11 at 3:01
    
A great fermentation is more than just temp control. Its wort oxygenation and pitching rate. I just left my answer to be, fermenation period. –  brewchez May 2 '11 at 19:16
    
Great. So I've got more equipment to buy? :) –  Dustin Rasener May 3 '11 at 21:54
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