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I am a beginner and as a beginner almost everything tells you to use malt extracts to brew your beer. So after a few batches I think I am ready to move up but I am wondering if it's worth the extra work. Is the beer really better? Does it require a lot more work?

One big question I have is do most people progress onto all grain brews or do they stay with the extract brews for simplicity?

I ask because I am starting a service that will deliver a new recipe's ingredients to your door every month. I can't decide if the recipes should be for all grain or extract brews, so I am really trying to get a consensus. I may just let everyone pick which one they want if it is a mixed opinion.

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    Made this a wiki. Not sure there is a right answer to this. Why not check out the recipes already offered by online resellers, like Nothern Brewer, More Beer etc. You may find the answer to the most popular way to brew is "all of them". – mdma Oct 6 '13 at 18:05
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According to figures from the American Homebrewers Assoc. and retail groups, most homewbrewers brew with extract. All grain requires more time, equipment, and effort. Obviously, a lot of people feel it's worth it, but more people have constraints on time, money and space. For those people, extract is the only way they can brew.

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  • I didn't realize they had stats on that kind of thing. Thanks! I know when I brew both time and space are a big deal. I live in an apartment, so space if very limited. Extract brews tend to be the easiest solution. – Shane Oct 6 '13 at 18:31
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I'd do extract and assume that people that have advanced to all grain get their ingredients themselves and formulate their own recipes. That said, do some market research and find out who your customers are. Check your competitor's web sites; after all, many people already sell beer kits.

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I think there's a lot of folks that stick with extract brewing and that's great. You can make awesome beer with extract.

All grain (and I'm only just beginning this myself) is about the level of control you can have over your recipe. For example, if I'm an extract brewer I can't use Fawcett Maris Otter as my base malt. I'm stuck using Briess or Muntons Light DME yet again.

If you can't go all grain then partial grain is a great option. You don't need any extra space or equipment and it gives you more control over your recipe. You might want to look into the brew-in-a-bag technique if you're looking to step up your game. Check YouTube for BIAB tutorials.

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The choice of brewing method depends largely on the disposition of the brewer.

Does the brewer:

  • desire a hobby, or just to have beer on hand?
  • desire a fine level of control in the finished product?
  • wish to limit investment in equipment?
  • wish to limit time spent on brewing?

Choices, starting from simplest, include:

  • No-boil (just add yeast to packaged wort) (i.e. FestaBrew)
  • Hopped Extract (add to boiling water)
  • Extract (add to boiling water and also add hops during the boil)
  • Brew in Bag (less equipment version of all-grain)
  • All-grain (using a mash vessel)

Given that you are serving a community, it would be advisable to just give them what they want. For instance, in a place where there is a high level of taxation, there may be those who don't desire a hobby, but only to have good beer on tap. In this case, no-boil might be appropriate, since that requires very little equipment, has shown to yield consistent results, requires minimal expertise (but at the expense of controlling the final product). Alternatively, if there is a DIY culture in the community, offering ways for your customers to express themselves through creative recipes and techniques might be advisable.

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