Grain vs. Extract

Hello and welcome to Hops, Brew, and Blog, where we will talk about the art of brewing. Brewing is a fun hobby that anyone can do. We will talk about everything from cloning beers you already love (and hopefully making them cheaper than buying), to experimenting with recipes no one has tried yet. We will also talk about the debate items of brewing including brewing with grain vs extract, what hops are better, the friend-breaker of liking IPAs, and many more. So sit back, grab your favorite brew (if you can) and prost!

For our first post, we’re going to dive right in…Grain vs Extract when brewing. Everyone has a say in this on whether you want all grain because it makes your beer a “pure brew” or some say you won’t be able to tell the difference so why take the extra time. Well, I am here to share what I have experienced in my time brewing. And there is a simple remedy to the debate that some might know. 

First things first, what is the difference. For those new to brewing, having a grain brew is using the actual grains you want. When you go to the local store for brewing, they will have tubs on tubs on tubs of different grains to choose from. It can be overwhelming if you don’t know the differences (heck, it is still for me sometimes). When you get your grains, you need to crack them. You can do this at the store or at home if you can. You then take those cracked grains and use them in the brew to start (we will go through the brewing process in a different blog, best to stay away from that rabbit hole while down this one). Now, there are other steps that can be added because of grains or more tools needed as well. If you are new to brewing, that can also push you away from using grains. In the end, you will have your beer, enjoy your beer, and make sure you saved what you did to make again. 

Now for extract brewing, there are fewer steps involved. Instead of being overwhelmed by all the grains available, you just have to go down a different aisle at the store to find them. They are labeled very simply as the beer you are trying to make (lager extract, ale extract, and so forth) and the only choice is either a dry version (DME) or liquid version (LME). It doesn’t really matter which type you pick. LME is like a syrup so it can make things very sticky, but easier to pour into your pot with the steam and heat while the DME is a powder that is easier to clean but the steam makes it harder to pour in what you want. Speaking of pouring, that is all you need to do. No extra tools and anything extra steps. Once you have your temperature in the pot, you pour in what you need and stir. For a new brewer, that makes the job easier. And, like the grains, in the end, you will have your beer, enjoy your beer, and make sure you saved what you did to make it again. 

Now some say that only the purest of beers are all grain and that extracts will taint the beers. Some say that it is still beer that I enjoy so I will stick with extracts. Do you need to do an all grain brew if you want to share or even enter into a competition? Not really. When I first started brewing, I knew the owners of a local brewery near me at the time. I asked the very same question. And the answer given…not a lot of people can tell the difference. I now compare it to gin. To most people, gin tastes like a pine tree. You could line up different brands of different cost and in a blind tasting, most drinkers won’t know the difference. The person that will know the difference are those that have been drinking gin for most of their lives. They are the connoisseurs of gin and can tell you everything about each bottle. They have their favorite and if that isn’t used in the gin martini, they will know it. The same can be said for this. Yes, you will get someone that can tell, but most times, especially when drinking yourself or with friends, it won’t matter as long as it came out to what you wanted it to be. 

Now it is time for the trick. I say trick, but really it is a kinda obvious step to make. But what you can do is a mix of both. This is how I brew. You get a few main grains to steep in your pot, but you will also use some extract as well. Again, will people know the difference? Probably not, but it is a nice middle ground if you want to eventually do an all grain after some practice. In the end, it doesn’t matter. I know homebrewers that do all extract and I know people that do an all grain brew as well. There are no turf wars over this. And in the end you brew you. 

I hope you enjoyed the read! If you have any thoughts or anything about this topic please let me know. I love learning more myself. All brewing is welcomed here. Cheers!

2 thoughts on “Grain vs. Extract

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