All-Grain Brewing is the process of making beer directly from malted grain in stead of using a pre-made malt extract - essentially we are making our own malt extract. All-Grain Brewing allows home brewers absolute freedom over our grain bills/recipes and ensures we are making the freshest beer possible!
All grain brewing starts with the Mashing process. All of your grains are crushed first, and the crushed grains are placed in your Mash Tun. Hot water is then added to the mash tun to raise the temperature of the mixture to between 148F and 158F. Typically water is mixed with grains at a rate of approximately 1.25-1.5 quarts per pound of grain. The temperature and amount of water for the infusion can be calculated using a tool such as Beer Smith. You then cover your mash tun and leave the mash for 45-60 minutes. During this time, complex sugars are broken down into simple sugars that yeast can easily consume. One typically stirs the mash every 10-15 minutes to prevent hot spots from developing in the cooler.
In the next step, called Spraging, hot water is added to the top of your mash tun and drained through the false bottom into your boiler. It takes time to extract the sugars from the grains, so don't rush this process. I usually allot at least 20-30 minutes to fully sparge the mash tun and extract about 6 gallons of wort for a 5 gallon batch.
Once you have the hot wort extracted, the rest of the process of Boiling, Cooling, and Fermenting the wort is the same as it would be for an extract brew. There are only two differences. First, you will use less hops during the boil because your wort is not as concentrated - meaning that more bitterness is extracted from the same amount of hops. The best way to account for this is to use some brewing software such as BeerSmith to calculate the bitterness of your brew and adjust your hops accordingly. The second obvious change is that you are boiling a much larger amount of wort, and need to be cautious when handling large heavy pots and also need a good cooling system to cool the wort as quickly as possible. However, the rest of the brewing process is just as it was with extract brewing.
The process can be a little messy the first time, but remember it gets much easier after a few batches! Good luck and happy brewing!
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