All grain brewing is the process of making beer from malted barley, hops, water and yeast. There are many technical tricks and calculations brewers use to increase the efficiency of the process, or make particularly tricky styles of beer. This article will cover none of these, as it is designed to teach you how to make your first all grain beer. If, once you have mastered this process, you want to look into what is happening in a little more detail, go for it. But for now, lets just get the basics down.
Continuing with a technical theme, Thom outlines the importance of calcium to the brewing process and how to calculate appropriate additions.
Calcium is essential to every step in the brewing process. Most water supplies used in brewing are deficient in calcium and additions of salts are required to increase calcium to a more suitable level. The main actions of calcium are:
Mashing is a fundamental part of all grain brewing and if you are anything like me, the thought of making the leap from extract brewing to all grain mashing was an intimidating one. At the outset it brings with it a number of anxieties that the producer of the malt extract has borne for you in the production of ready fermentable extract.
Mashing is a complex procedure at the biochemical level with any number of molecular processes that must be provided a suitable environment to work effectively. Thankfully, providing a suitable environment is relatively simple using home brew equipment and in this article I hope to explain some of the biochemical reactions that are so important for effective mashing.
I have been brewing all grain for a few years now and have managed to produce all manner of beers with my simple, low tech system. It involves mashing and boiling in an electrim bin and has elements in common with the “brew in a bag” system recently pioneered by Australian brewers, but it differs in a couple of ways, most notably the fact that I sparge and I collect the runoff in a second vessel before returning it to the boiler.
I have learned a lot about brewing since I started using this system and have spent quite a bit of money on equipment for various bits of my process, but I have never upgraded the mashing side of things. There are several reasons for this, like the fact that I get quite good efficiency numbers, but more importantly, I make good beer with this system and that is the whole point of brewing, after all.