View Full Version : Extract or full grain?

11-14-2003, 09:52 AM
OK, this is my first post and yeah, I want to open a brewpub (bet no one ever heard that before). I feel I'm on the right track but am still baffled by one question: Full grain or extract? I understand that people think you're cheating if you don't start from scratch, but with the consistant high quality of extract these days, I like the quality control aspects of that path better, also get to save on space by having less equipment. Besides, I'm selling beer, not a process. So what is wrong with my thinking? I would appreciate any advice. Thanks!

11-14-2003, 10:42 AM
Nothing wrong with extract brewing....they do ALOT of it in England. Some say you don't quite get the complexity of flavors you get with a full grain mash, and quality extract in commercial quanities is far from cheap and very vunerable to store.
There's a beautiful little brew-pub in Oakland Ca. called "Pacific Coast Brewing co.".......I belive they still do all extract brewing.
I haven't been there in many years , but I recall thier product as quite good.
I reccomend you contact them....or better yet, go there and sample thier brews.They've been in bussiness for about 15 years....so it must be working for them.

Good luck,

Chip Tate
11-14-2003, 02:58 PM

I think the advice from the last person is really good. I worked for a brewery that did this, though, and eventually went under--not necessarily for that reason. I would just add a few caveats.

First, while you save some in equipment costs, the cost of extracts can be considerably more than malt. It really eats into your margin. You can make it work, but don't underestimate this cost.

Second, while extracts are a lot better than they used to be, you really have to be careful about oxidation, getting fresh extracts and formulation. It's really easy to get a kind of overbearing caramel-like flavor in all your beers if you don't have fresh, well-made and well-kept stuff. This isn't too bad in porters and strong beers, but it makes good pilsners and ESBs impossible

My last point may not apply to you at all. The people I worked for at this extract brewery used extracts, in part, because they did not feel technically competent enough to use grains and thought extracts would be easier. If you resemble this remark at all, be careful. Extracts or all-grain, you'll still be a professional brewer and have to be just as technically competent to make good beer consistently. True, you won't have grist and mash filtration issues to deal with--but you'll have other issues instead. Again, this may not be your motivation at all.

Just my 2 cents.


11-14-2003, 11:32 PM
In 1995-96, working for a small microbrewery, I brewed with extract for my base, along with steeped specialty grains, and since I used high-quality ingredients, I got high-quality results, indistinguishable from all-grain brewing.

Ah, but as Chip says, you still have to be as thorough as an all-grain brewer. And malt extract costs twice (or more) than grain. You only save a couple of hours, at a significantly higher ingredient cost.

Having worked both ways, I think all grain makes more sense, costwise and otherwise.

Cheers, Tim

11-15-2003, 08:42 AM
its worth the $savings to go all grain. Check out the poll results: 100% all grain.
J. Boy

Larry Horwitz
11-24-2003, 06:19 AM
Go Grain, you'll be happier