I started life brewing extract kits, like most people I suspect. Either thick, sticky brown gunk from a can, or fine, sticky brown powder from a bag – the end result is usually the same.
But that's no way to live. All grain (or "AG" - see if you can keep up) brewing basically involves steeping a few kilos of whole malted barley husks in hot water for 90 minutes to convert the starches in the grains into sugars (the "mash"), which are then gobbled up and converted into alcohol by yeast ("beer").
Real brewers have three tanks - one to heat the water up to the right temperature, the second to mash the grains, and the third is the kettle. Space-conscious Londoners have to be a bit more economically minded. Luckily, the Aussies invented something called brew-in-a-bag (in-a-large-stainless-steel-boiler).
I'll show you mine.
Ain't she a beaut?
I went with the 30 L version, which was coincidentally exactly the right size to fit in an unused piece of space (that I made by throwing a bunch of stuff away) in the boiler cupboard. How fitting...
The boiler serves as all three tanks in one. Line the boiler with a mesh bag, chuck in the grains, and mash away. Remove the bag with the grains, and you're ready to boil. Ace.
It's not ready to go right out the box.
- Fitting a hop filter and a ball valve tap is an easy and handy conversion: see this handy forum post.
- You'll need a bag. This bag. It fits, too, sort of.
Now, who's still talking about extract?