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All-grain brewing is the best way to make beer, no doubt about it. You’ll nearly always achieve a greater depth of flavour than with extract brewing. The process is more intricate (and longer), but everything is 100 per cent in your control, and you’ll get the satisfaction that the beer you crack open with your mates will be all your own work.
It’s never long before those who started on extract kits invest in a mash tun and take the next step. There’s nothing like full-grain homebrewing. We love it, and we know you will too.
So what are the main differences? The key aspect is that you will be extracting the sugars from the grain yourself. This is known as mashing. Simply put, it is soaking the grains in hot water to extract all those sugars. That usually takes an hour. Hot water is then run through the grain bed (known as the sparge) and out of the tap on your mash tun back into your kettle. The liquid that runs through is wort, a sugary liquid you’ll add hops to during the boil. The fermentation process will then eat up all those sugars and create alcohol.
A mash tun is the key investment here. It is often an insulated cool box that has a tap and a false bottom to separate the wort from the grain. Some kind of mechanism to ‘sprinkle’ the water evenly across the grain bed during sparging is also required. We use a little plastic device that fits into a tube, but some mash tuns come with spinning sprinkler arms. A hot liquor tank is also useful so you can be heating water while another process is happening.
It’s a full day for sure, but there is the odd half hour of downtime to read a book or paint the shed. OK, wellies on, scales out, tap on, it’s time to get brewing.
All-grain brewing means you’ll be mashing your malted grain rather than using liquid or dry malt extract. It adds another step (and a couple of hours) to your brew day, but the results are noticeably better. Regarding equipment, then the essential addition is a mash tun, usually some form of converted insulated coolbox with a false bottom to separate the grain from the wort. There also needs to be a mechanism to sprinkle the water over the grain bed when sparging. A wort chiller is also necessary for quality of the beer. A hot liquor tank is also handy, but not essential.
Every year, Beer Hawk releases a lineup of limited edition craft beer mixed cases for the holiday season. This year's lineup of festive Christmas beer gifts is guaranteed to put a smile on everyone’s face.
Remember the childhood excitement of opening a new door on your advent calendar every day in the run up to Christmas? It gave each day a little sparkle of festive magic, even though those tiny chocolates behind the doors were always a bit rubbish. How would you like to recapture that childhood magic, but with bottles of delicious beer instead of powdery chocolate? Sounds amazing, right? In that case, you need to get your hands on our Craft Beer Advent Calendar.
Pairing beer and food together isn’t all rules and science. That would make for a terribly boring dinner party! Instead, it’s the art of taking a good beer, some good food and partnering them together to make something even better. It’s the adventure of discovering what works, what doesn’t and what you like. It’s you taking a bite, taking a sip and then declaring your undying love for that imperial stout and chocolate cake.
Barrel-ageing beers is not a new thing, but it is getting more and more popular, and has probably never been as inventive. Adrian Tierney-Jones explores the new wave of ageing beer in wood
While some so-called off-flavours can be appropriate in certain styles others are not and may kill a little bit of your soul. Here's a quick guide to the most common off-flavours.
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