Don’t let all grain brewing intimidate you! Brewing Beer can be as simple or as complicated as you make it, whether you are an extract brewer or an all grain brewer. The fact is that you brew beer the way you want to. Some people take the time to measure and calculate around every turn and some don’t, it all depends on your preference. So when you hear all the beer jargon and see all of the complicated equations than can be related to all grain brewing don’t worry, you don’t need them to make good all grain brews. Both Extract Brewing and All Grain Brewing can produce fantastic beers, All grain just gives you more control and will allow you to make any beer style on the market.
In all grain brewing as opposed to extract, you make the malt extract yourself. In its simplest form, when you steep specialty grains for an extract brewing, you are doing on a small scale the same thing you do in all grain. The boiling and hop addition steps are almost exactly the same as what you would be doing in a higher volume boil.
Many people think that if they switch to all grain brewing they are going to need a load of new equipment that will cost hundreds of dollars. The answer is yes and no. You can go to a brew shop or online and easily spend $300-$1000 or more on a new or even used fancy all grain setup. But you can achieve the same end for around just $100 in equipment that you build yourself. Check out our tutorial on building your own mash ton here.
If you’re an extract brewer, you already have everything you need, except for a mash ton, cooling coil, hot water pot (your current brew kettle). Depending on the size of your kettle you may need to get a larger brew kettle that can handle 7-8 gallons. The mash ton can easily be made out of a $20 cooler and $10 in hardware from your local hardware store (View our tutorial here). You can make a high capacity brew pot out of a converted keg shell for another $15 in hardware and a keg shell (full of beer usually costs a $40 deposit if you just buy some beer and don’t return the keg) (View our Keg Conversion tutorial here). Finally, the cooling coil can be made from copper pipe and a little more hardware costing somewhere between $20-30 (Guess What, we have a tutorial right here).