Well my brew partner, Tedy Bruschi, and I finally did, we took the plunge into all grain brewing. There are some significant differences between extract brewing and all grain brewing, but it is the natural evolution of the hobby. Considering this is a blog chronicling my brewing experience, I should admit that I was against taking the next step…and I was wrong.
Why was I hesitant? There were a few reasons. First was out of pure comfort. Tedy and I basically got our extract brewing down to a science. We could bang out a brew with very little wasted time, and moving to an all grain approach completely changes things. It will be a while before we have the type of efficiency we currently have with extract brewing. Second, we had to get new equipment, and if you ever searched for all grain equipment it is not cheap. Luckily, I was able to find cheap, used equipment on Craigslist from a seller whose doctor told him he shouldn’t be drinking beer anymore! Truth be told it was this find, that was the impetus for us to get going. The last reason was that we were/are making some great beers! This was the biggest reason for my resistance. Even in the short time I have owned this site I have shared my experience making an awesome porter (which was lagered), my first shandy and recently my first witbier.
As stated, I was wrong, if you “believe” in fortune cookies (and you shouldn’t) this is the one I opened mid-brew session:
What and How Did We Brew for our First All Grain Brew?
Given that this was my first all grain, Bruschi and I decided to bribe a friend of Tedy who has a dozen or so brews under his belt. Between the aforementioned Chinese food and some awesome beer from Treehouse Brewery it wasn’t that hard to twist his arm.
In addition we wanted to buy a pretty cheap kit since we wanted simplicity and didn’t want to waste a lot of money if it turns out terrible (but even if t was terrible we never waste our beer!
The first thing that was different was that we had to grind our own grains first! The site we ordered from, Jaspers, offered to do it for free, but since we bought the equipment why wouldn’t we do it ourselves? Seems like it would be fresher, and a lot of fun no less. I am sure it’ll get old, but it was pretty good time playing with our grain mill.
For an efficient mash the grain must be physically crushed and broken apart. The resulting ground meal is called grist. It might seem as if the finer the grist the better, but when the mash is complete the grain has to be separated from the mash liquid. If the grain were ground to flour, separation would be difficult because nothing would flow through the grain bed.
The ideal grain mill breaks the grain into enough pieces so all the contents of every seed can be extracted and converted into simpler compounds during mashing. It leaves the husks as unbroken as possible. If the husks are left intact, they help keep the ground meal, or endosperm, separated enough to allow flow through the grain bed. The idea is to literally squeeze the malt until it’s crushed inside the husk, not to roll it like wheat in a bakery grist mill.
So milling we did!
After milling it was time to brew! First step was to take our milled grains and prepare the mash which is the process of extracting the sugars from the grain. Then it is the same as extract brewing.
Brewing a Session Pale Ale
For our first all grain brew we decided to do an American Session Pale Ale from Jaspers called Bottoms Up!
What is an American Session Pale Ale?
An American Pale Ale is,
This popular type of pale ale was developed here in America in the early ‘80s. American pale ales differ from British bitters in their flavor. They have a more pronounced hop flavor and, generally, higher alcohol content than their British counterparts. Because of these distinctive qualities, American pale ale is one of the most popular choices for home brewers. It is also an excellent commercial beer for people who want to enjoy a good domestic.
American Pale Ales will be dark gold, amber or copper in appearance. You will find a medium body that has an overall smooth and refreshing finish. The aroma will be low in malts, but moderately strong in fruity-esters and hops. This style of pale ale will have a somewhat strong hop flavor that showcases the piney or citrusy flavor often associated with American-grown hops. It may be somewhat bitter, but that should never linger for long.
When a beer is a “session” it just is supposed to be a bit weaker than the original style often making it a little bit more drinkable and refreshing.
Hopefully this goes well!
Brew Date: 6/12/2017