The Beginner Brewer: Why I'm not a Full-Grain Snob

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Why I'm not a Full-Grain Snob

I started the Beginner Brewer blog to not only celebrate beer geekdom but also to help novice homebrewers with solid, no-nonsense advice. Unfortunately, there is a lot of nonsense floating around out there, waiting to ambush the unwitting beginner brewer.

One particularly common bit of hogwash is what I like to call: Full Grain Snobbery  (FGS).

 Full Grain Snobbery (FGS) and why it's bad


If you're a new homebrewer you will undoubtedly start with extract brewing because of one or all of the following reasons:

  • You'll need less starting equipment 
  • It requires less starting moola
  • It takes less time
  • It's easier because you need to worry about less variables

If the above reasons appeal to you, then extract brewing is a good option. However, start surfing the web homebrewing forums and you will also come across folks who seem to reserve a special disdain for extract brewing.

I've seen it a lot on the web whenever a brewer asks a question related to an extract homebrew that has a problem. You won't have to wait long before some smart ass posts something along the following lines:

Why not switch to full grain and gain full control over your brewing? 

I don't know about you, but that ain't exactly helpful. What happens is that the novice brewer who posted the question probably won't post again, thinking that they are somehow not doing 'real' brewing. And the FGS? I'm not sure what measure of satisfaction he or she gets out of doing this. I mean, really? Really?

FGS is just another variant of know-it-all-ism that you probably get in most hobbies. I'm pretty sure that you get similar unhelpful schmucks in hobbies like model airplanes and cheese-making ("What? you used the Roquefort strain for a Cheddar! Amateur!").

Why Extract Brewing is nothing to be ashamed of


Here are three reasons why you should never be ashamed of brewing with extract and why we should not tolerate all this FGS nonsense:
  1. You can still make excellent beer with extracts that impress the judges (I have)
  2. Extracts are getting more varied, allowing extract brewers to brew a wide array of styles
  3. There are award-winning professional microbrewers who also use extract. Don't believe me? Check out the Pacific Coast Brewery. Yep, these guys' extract beer is so crap that they've been winning silver and bronze medals at the Great American Beer Festival for years.

So, don't feel ashamed or shy to tell people you brew with extract. Be proud. Be unashamed. Wear interesting bow ties (okay, maybe not that last one).

Don't be a FGS


My basic message for this post is this: Don't be a beer snob. 

Allow for diversity in enjoying this delightfully human invention we call beer.

If you eventually want to brew full grain, go for it. There are a lot of advantages to going Full Grain.

If you're happy to brew extract all your life, power to you! You are going to have some fantastic beers to sample in the years to come. 

If you are a full grain brewer, don't be a FGS; rather help novice homebrewers find their stride. And if you are a snob, email Don from Pacific Coast Breweries and tell him why he isn't a 'real brewer'

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