Thinking back on my beginning homebrew experiences, here are some handy all grain brewing tips for brewing your first batch of all grain homebrew. This are just little tricks and pointers that I've learned along the way while learning how to brew all grain beers.
All Grain Brewing Tips
- Brew with a friend – Brewing with others is often more enjoyable than brewing solo, but it’s also nice to have an extra set of hands. Better yet, if your friend has experience with all grain brewing, they’ll probably be able to give you some valuable tips and pointers that will serve you well for years to come.
- Have plenty of water ready – Due to the nature of mashing and lautering, all grain brewing requires that you have plenty of water. This will mean that you’ll have to plan ahead in order to boil off chlorine or otherwise treat your brewing water. When doing all grain brewing, a five gallon batch will likely need 8-10 gallons of water. Use a calculator like this one to get a good estimate of your water needs ahead of time.
- Try brew in a bag (BIAB) – Of all the all grain brewing tips, this one is my favorite. Brew in a bag is a great way for partial mash brewers to transition to all grain brewing. Instead of a mash tun, all you need is a mesh grain bag. With BIAB, your boil kettle should be big enough for a full-volume boil, so if your kettle is five gallons, maybe try a three-gallon batch of beer.
- Take notes – Everyone’s brewing setup is different, so while you can find all kinds of advice for how to brew, it’s important that you become intimately familiar with your own all grain equipment and procedures. Take good homebrewing notes so you can refer to them when troubleshooting or replicating a beer recipe.
- Don’t be afraid to use malt extract – Just because you’ve started into the world all grain brewing doesn’t mean you have to stick with it forever. Extract and partial mash will still serve you well if you ever find yourself looking for ways to save some time and effort. Even though I normally brew all grain, it’s still nice to brew from a homebrew recipe kit once in a while. Plus, adding malt extract to your all grain batches can also make it easier to make high-gravity beers.
- RDWHAH – Relax, don’t worry, have a homebrew. Charlie Papazian’s mantra has guided me through several brews that have bordered on frustration. Keeping a cool head will make the experience much more enjoyable. Remember that as long as you follow some basic principles, like good cleaning and sanitation, it’s actually pretty hard to mess up a batch. It's no accident that I chose this one to be the last of the all grain brewing tips. Take it to heart, and the hobby will become much more fun and enjoyable.
What tips do you have for someone beginning their first batch of all-grain brew?
David Ackley is a beer writer, homebrewer, and self-described "craft beer crusader." He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.