Options in Home Brewing
Extract, Partial Mash, Brew in a Bag (BIAB), Batch Sparge, Fly Sparge are all options in home brewing. That's the one thing I love about brewing my own beer, you have many different techniques to choose from. All the mentioned techniques can produce good beer. Some might say that technique X might produce better beer than technique Y, but to me you can make good beer with any way you want.
We also have a lot of options when we brew the beer: single tier, two tier, three tier, herms. Again lots of options and they can make good beer.
To this day you will see people saying you need to brew this way as it is the best. Another person will say that's not the best way this is. Most home brewers are going to have a different way to brew. With all the different equipment out there today I think it would be hard to find 2 people that have the same exact set up.
We should learn and try each technique one time to see how it is done. I started with a 3 gal pot that I was doing extract in, then I started doing partial mash, then onto BIAG. Today I mainly use a two tier batch sparge or fly sparge.
When you start out in home brewing you might not know a lot so make sure you are reading everything you can on home brewing. You will want to start out with a beginner’s kit that you can buy from Northern Brewer or an option to look at is picking up some used equipment, to make sure you like home brewing beer. I wouldn't want to spent a lot of money on something I was not sure I was going to like.
With all the different techniques that are out there right now each might take more time than another. Making an extract batch is not going to take that long as most of the time as you are not boiling 5 gallons of wort. Most of the time you will boil around 3 gallons then top off with water to 5 or 5.5 gallons. A batch sparge will take 4 to 5 hours as you have the mash in and mash out.
The cost could be a big factor in your decision on how you are going to brew. The extract technique, the equipment might be less than using a three tier system, but your grain bill is going to be more. With an all-grain batch of beer you are going to spend more in equipment depending on what setup you use, but you will save on your grain bill. You can buy grain in bulk, but if you don't buy grain in bulk a pound of grain will be less than a pound of DME.
Whatever technique you use or how you brew your beer, have fun with it! Keep your mind open and just brew.
What technique do you guys use? What did you start with? Do you use a single tier set up or a three tier set up?