The Leap To All Grain Homebrewing

old brewery
You wont need this much. Just some coolers.

Whenever I would read about all-grain homebrewing in the various books, it seemed ridiculously complicated. I couldn’t imagine going from the simplicity of extract/grain recipes to what appeared to be an equipment and space nightmare. Strange terminology such as ‘mash tuns’, ‘lauter tuns’ and ‘sparging’ did not sound like fun to me.

It’s true. Going from extract brewing to all-grain is a leap. Both in procedures as well as equipment. But i assure you the taste of all-grain beer is a million times better than extract.

I’m going to simplify and break down the equipment for you now. This is intended for a brewer that already owns the basics such as a fermenter and wants to know what they need to upgrade to all-grain. I’m going to put them in the order I think you should purchase them. This way you can continue extract brewing with the new equipment until your ready for the final pieces.

  1. Propane Burner – You should buy one of these regardless if you are moving to all-grain. Extract brewing with a propane burner  (rather than on the stove) is just the bees knees. Imaging getting your boil started in 5 minutes rather than 30. Seriously worth every cent.¬† It also sounds cool when you turn it up all the way. Fire = good.
  2. Wort chiller – This is also an item you’ll want with all-grain but can benefit you while you are still doing extract brewing. Instead of sticking your boil kettle in a stupid ice bath for 30 minutes, you can simply chill the wort directly. It usually takes about 10 minutes to get your wort to yeast pitching temperature.
  3. Boiling pot – You will want at least a 7.5 gallon pot for boiling.
  4. Hot Liquor Tank – this is a fancy/old term for a hot water tank. Get a 10 gallon picnic cooler (the kind with a spout at the bottom for serving cups of water) from Home Depot.
  5. Mash Tun – This is just a second 10 gallon cooler from Home Depot. This will hold your crushed grain and hot water (the Mash).
  6. Cooler conversion parts (2) – We need to take the existing spouts off of the coolers and outfit them with fancy metal jobs.
  7. Mash screen – This will go at the bottom of your mash tun to allow your wort to come out and keep the grain where it belongs.
  8. Sparge Arm – This is just a device that sprinkles water on top of your mash. You can buy one or make one.
  9. Grain Mill – You can most like get all your grain crushed at the homebrewing store, but my store made you do it yourself. By hand. So I bought my own.
  10. Iodine – Did you know you have to sign for this at the pharmacy now? Anyway iodine is not totally necessary but it’s used to test your mash.
  11. Silicone tubing – Silicone tubing handles extreme heat and wont flatten on you. It’s expensive but totally necessary.

You can slowly buy all the parts up the brewing kettle and continue brewing extract batches. Everything after that though you might want to splurge and get all at once because you’ll need all of it to start your first all-grain batch. Once you have all the parts, it’s time to brew your first all-grain batch.