My First All-Grain Adventure

This past weekend I had the distinct pleasure of brewing my first batch of all-grain beer. The brewing took place in the basement homebrew setup — complete with exhaust hood, temperature controlled refrigeration units, a warm room and much more… yeah, it’s that awesome — of a good friend and professional brewer, Ben. Ben was nice enough to put together a unique recipe for the event — a Pale Ale/borderline IPA using fresh hops grown in my girlfriend Chelsea’s mother’s garden — so we were able to really brew a one-of-a-kind beer.

Looks like a big bucket of oatmeal...
Looks like a big bucket of oatmeal...

It was really neat to witness first-hand and close up literally every aspect of what goes into all-grain and professional brewing. I had obviously seen beer being brewed on the macro level during countless brewery tours, but it’s an entirely different ballgame when you see what’s going on close up, and take part in every aspect of the brew. I have a huge new-found respect for brewers, both professionals and hobbyists doing all-grain brews.

steeping the hops cones
steeping the hops cones

However, I think I’ll stick to my extract brewing for a little while longer. Its just so much easier and well, let’s face it – I’m a little lazy. It still produces delicious beers and only takes a couple of hours; Ben and I were brewing for nearly 9 hours! But I also have a feeling that in a couple of weeks when the beer is carbonated and kegged (after the current dry hopping wraps up) and I get my first sips, there’s a good chance I’ll be changing my mind. Stay tuned!

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  1. Congratulations on taking your first step into all grain brewing. I made the transition from extracts to all grain about 2 years ago and have not looked back. It does typically take about 3 times longer, and I do pretty much commit and entire sunday to brewing, but I really can’t think of a better way to spend a day. After all, if time were the only consideration here, I would be buying all my beer.

  2. Were you brewing a 10 gallon batch? 9 hours seems long for a 5 gallon batch; there’s probably some streamlining to do there in terms of water heating and whatnot… but I suppose that’s just my industrial engineer talking.

    There’s definitely nothing wrong with brewing extract batches forever; we have a small brewpub in seattle that uses a dry malt extract setup to brew their in-pub offerings. I think a lot of home brewers end up feeling the itch to move to all-grain at some point, though. There’s just something about it that’s a lot of fun, and it’s amazingly rewarding.

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