Brewing Methods: All-Grain vs. Extract

The Great Brewing (Self-)Debate of 2012 here at St. Cecilia Brewery is whether or not (or when) to make the plunge into All-Grain Brewing.

Here’s a break-down of the pros and cons of each.

EXTRACT BREWING
Pros:
* Ease of method
* Less Equipment required
* Tried-and-true
* Takes less time.
* Shorter, fewer-steps process means less opportunity for contamination or screw-ups along the way
Cons:
* More expensive than All-Grain batch-by-batch, particularly when designing my own recipes and not staying with pre-designed packaged kits
* More stylistically limited
* Have to deal with %$¢´£ messy and hard-to-work-with jugs of liquid malt syrup and bags of DME
* Some styles harder to perfect: difficult to make light-coloured beers consistent.

ALL-GRAIN BREWING
Pros:
* More control and flexibility of product
* Access to a wider array of styles not possible with Extract Brewing
* More economical and cost-effective (at least in the long run), particularly when designing my own recipes
* More hands-on and from-scratch sense of pride and production. More authenticity to the brewing art.
* Don’t have to deal with %$¢´£ messy and hard-to-work-with jugs of liquid malt syrup and bags of DME
Cons:
* Longer, more involved process means longer brewing days
* Longer, more involved process means more opportunity for contamination or screw-ups along the way
* Up-front equipment costs (although there are options here, some homemade)
* Learning curve involved with new processes means my first couple batches will be shots in the dark.
* Have to pay more attention to nuances such as water temperature, pH, and chemical makeup not necessarily important to Extract brewing

At the end of the day, I know that All-Grain is going to win out. It’s mostly a matter of shoring up my courage to try something new, and my willingness to spend the extra time with the process.  Reading about the Brew-in-a-Bag method has also piqued my curiosity.

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