Whattttssssss going on Homebrewers!
My name's Ty Stevenson.
I'm a homebrewing, Waters Brewer owning, Marine Corps veteran, college grad, wolfdog owning, full time job having, ordinary dude who is writing these grammatically incorrect sentences in hopes of helping YOU, the homebrewer, when it comes to your brew. From your very first beer, to owing your own brewery.
I wake up between 4-6 AM every day, work on my business for a couple hours, take my dog on an hour walk, make my lunch, go to work at a winery (wish it was a brewery), come home, walk my dog again, watch some sports, work on more business, cook dinner, and spend the rest of my night with my loving girlfriend. Put that routine on repeat and that's the jist of my life. I also homebrew about every 3 weeks and I listen to a lot of podcasts revolving around brewing, business, and how to succeed at life.
I grew up living in apartments, motels, with family friends, and was eventually taken in by my grandparents at the young age of 13 after my mom could no longer support me. Pops was in and out of my life for the better or worse, but we are friends now, drink beer, play darts, and golf from time-to-time. My grandparents are the ones who really made me the man I am today. From disciplining me when I was being a stubborn teenager, to being there for every one of my baseball games for 13 years, they are my true heroes. They really taught me how to work hard, fight for what I believe is right, and always be kind to others.
I became a Marine before the age of 18 and was in the reserves until the age of 23. Went to college at 18 and graduated at 23 with a management degree, all while being in the Marines. Have a background in construction and started working 2 days after graduating.
I had this idea in my mind about starting my own company for a while, after quitting my job as an assistant project manager for a construction where my boss was the worst boss you could ever imagine, where nothing I ever did was good enough, not getting training in my job, and commuting an hour plus there and back in traffic every day, I quit my job and took a month of work. During that month I just drank, played video games, and watched lots of TV, until something clicked in my head, I got to asking myself, "what the hell am I doing with my life". I still had to pay the bills, so I got a job at a winery in Sonoma County, wasn't very satisfied with this job, but because I had gone through these times of failure and defeat, I decided I can do more with my life, so I started a company. I woke up at 3:15 AM on the morning of April 26th, 2016 (not kidding) and decided I was going to start a business, and thus Waters Brewer was founded...
Taking The Jump From Extract To All-Grain
So you think you're ready to make the jump to all-grain huh? I am going to be talking about the new pieces of equipment you are going to need, the new ingredients you will have to get to make your beer, and the process in which you go about implementing all of these new aspects of brewing in to YOUR brewing process
First off, let's talk about the new pieces of equipment you are going to need IN ADDITION TO THE EQUIPMENT YOU WILL NEED from your extract batches, which you can find in my first article I wrote: Equipment Needed for your first Extract Brew.
Here is the list of new pieces of equipment that you are going to need:
Something like this orange mash tun and the false bottom will work great as a mash tun and false bottom.So if you haven't bought a strainer of some sort, you will want one for all-grain brewing. I would highly suggest either making or buying some sort of false bottom for your mash tun, so the grain won't get in to you wort when you boil it, or you get a strainer and try not to let any grain get in to the wort when you release the spigot on the mash tun. Leaving the grain in the boil can result in a ugly hazy color, harsh bitterness, and just overall dull. Whatever you have to do to NOT get any grain in your wort, that is the goal here.
MOST homebrewers use a big cooler, like a chest cooler, that can hold up to like 10-12 gallons. So what you will do is heat your strike water (the water you use to make you mash) up to about 160 degrees Fahrenheit, you will then pour all of that, which should be anywhere from 2 gallons to 5 gallons, depending on how runny you want your mash to be, in to the cooler. You will then get your crushed malt, which we will talk about in a minute, and slowly pout it in to the mash tun. If you can, have someone helping you stir as you pour the malt in. Try to get it as evenly dispersed as possibly and to avoid clumping up of the malt in the mash tun. Make sure that if you DO buy a cooler, it has a spigot at the bottom to release the wort.
Whatever type of mash tun you use, make sure that it has good insulation, can hold temperatures of at least 160 degrees F, and has a spigot at the bottom to release the wort.
Those are really the only 2 pieces of equipment that you really NEED to go from extract to all grain. the next items are pieces of equipment that is suggested if you think you may need/use them.
- pH Meter
This is mainly used to check the pH of your mash, which should be around 5.2-5.4. the closer you can get your mash pH to that pH, you are good.
- A mill
I would only buy this if you pla to ONLY buy grains that aren't crushed already and you want to do it yourself. You can also build a mill yourself with a drill and some other equipment, but you can figure out how to do that on YouTube if you want. Other wise, you can buy one.
New Ingredients needed for All-Grain:
If you are making the jump from extract to all-grain, that almost tells me right there that you are easy to take your homebrewing game up to the next level. Along wwith leveling up comes water treatment. Water is always overlooked when it comes to brewing, but SO underrated. If you have water that doesn't mesh well with the style of beer you are brewing, it could actually hinder your beer. I would suggest buying some simple water treatment solutions,in addition to distilled water, for you to add to distilled water, like Waters Brewer, to make you water be as compatible as possible with you brew.
Grains are the real MVP here. You have a whole bunch of styles of grains to choose from: Base, crystal, carmel, roast, and black. Then you have your adjuncts like wheat, and rice which can be added to the grain bill as well. There is such a plethora of options when it comes to making the best combination of grains you can. Base malt us your base, provides the base color and most of the fermentable sugars. Crystal and carmel malts add color, up's the pH of your mash, and can add a sweeter flavor to your beer. Roast and black make your beer a lot darker and can provide real robust, coffee, toffee, burnt tastes to beers. Best way to figure out the right combo for you is to just keep experimenting with amount, and which type, of malt you use in your beer.
Finally I want to just go over the new brewing process. This will JUST be what you have to do different from an extract brew, which if you are doing extract still, can be found here.
So you went to your LHBS (local homebrew shop), and you decided you want to make an IPA so you got 9lbs of your base malt, pale 2 row, 1 lb of carmel 40, and maybe 0.5lb's of some type of wheat to make your beer more hazy and give it more mouth-feel. Your LHBS should have a mill there, so you run your grains through the mill, and if you don't know how to use one, just ask the employees at your LHBS (they tend to be super nice and love helping customers) how to use it.
Now you will have crushed your grains, letting th inside of kernel show to be able to extract the proteins which emits the sugars that the yeast use to product ethanol to in turn get you drunk.
Once you get your grains, go ahead and buy 2 oz of Citra, Cascade, and Centennial hops (Three C's), your 1056 California Ale yeast (Chico) and whatever else you may need from your LHBS.
Then you head home, make sure your cooler is clean, doesn't have to be sanitized, and the spigot is closed. Heat up 5 gallons of distilled water, pour your 5 gallon IPA water treatment from Waters Brewer, stir until dissolved, and then take out 2 gallons of that 5 gallons of water so you then have 3 gallons of treated water. Heat those 3 gallons of water up to 160 degrees F, once at 160, pour the water in to your mash tun (spigot is closed). You will then add your grains to that water, pour slowly, try to make a base sandwich (base malt, carmel, wheat, base) and try to disperse evenly and avoid clumping up. Once all the malt is in the mash, stick a thermometer in there if you can and set a timer for an hour. check and mix gently every 15-20 minutes. the temp of the mash should be around 148-152, lower the temp more body you get in your beer. If you bought a pH meter, it should be around 5.2-5.4. When all your numbers are looking good, then you wait. With 15 minutes left in your mash tun, get ready 2 gallons of your distilled water and mix in (2) 1 gallon water treatment solutions for your IPA, and stir until dissolved. Add those other 2 gallons from your first 5 gallons of water to the two you jsut treated, so you will now have a total of 4 gallons of treated water. Heat those 4 gallons up to 160 degrees F, you will then use 3 of those 4 gallons of water to sparge your mash. This will catch all the sugars that your mash didn't off of your grains. I use a big measuring cup, scoop the water, and pour it through a strainer on of the mash as even as possible. Once your hour is up, open your spigot up, and if you can, make sure NO grains come out with your wort, the less grains the better. I use a strainer to make sure even when the wort is being released that no grains get in to my wort. This process will take about an hour and once all your 3 gallons of sparge water is used up and all your wort has been released from your mash tun to your kettle, you should have close to 5.5 gallons of wort in your kettle ready to bring to a roaring boil, add hops, cool, aerate, add yeast, and put in fermenter to sit for two weeks! The rest of your brew can be found here, and is the same as all extract from this point on.
There you have it folks! Making the jump from extract to all-grain.
It's really NOT THAT HARD! I think it's much more fun, you learn more from doing it, and you can experiment more with your recipes. The only downfall is that you have to know what you are doing more (be more knowledgeable), and it makes your brew day longer.
I just wanted to thank y'all for reading, it feels good knowing that I can help somebody somewhere brew better beer!
As always, if you have any comments/feedback, I am always all ears, all the time.
Stay True To Your Brew!