Basic brewing is easy. Like most things though, you can take it to new levels. This article talks about beyond the homebrew starter kit. It's not even that much more complicated, but opens up new worlds of possibilities by introducing the partial mash.

It is likely that if you have gotten to this, that you are ready for trying new styles and new techniques. We are now taking off the training wheels and unleashing that brewer within.

Partial mash is a mix between malt extracts and barley grains, including specialty grains. Actually you will now be able to use whatever types of grains you like, including wheat and even flaked corn. Imagine the difference between a TV dinner, and cooking on the grill....it's liberating! By adding grains to the recipe it allows for a lot more expiramentation as the possibilities are cheaper and much easier to obtain in small and large quantities.

The key to working with grains comes at different spots along the brew process. First of all when purchasing, grains can be much cheaper than buying the malt extracts. You can buy it in bulk or by the ounce, so making different beer recipes and varieties is almost instinctual. Grains come from all over the world. And knowing that you can get such variety in one place makes even the act of buying the ingredients an event in itself.

Grains are ground up before using, much like coffee. A grain mill is the tool used as it splits open the shell??????? allowing for water penetration, but doesn't destroy the husk like a coffee grinder might. Most homebrew stores have the grinders for use when you buy the grains. You can also purchase the mills here.

Another key aspect of working with grains is containing or filtering the grains. Simply dumping the grains into the pot during brewing will cause a headache later on, when you need to filter out all of the husks. Once the sugars and flavors are extracted, the husks provide nothing for the beer, so you will want to make sure they are all filtered out. There is a very easy and common sense method which is to use a cheesecloth bag to hold the grains. Simply put the crushed grains in the bag, leave a little extra room, and tie off a knot so none of the husks escape. When brewing try to avoid letting the bag touch the bottom of your pot, as the heat on the bottom could burn and sever the bag. When the wort is cooked, simply remove the bags and discard. You can sparge hot water over the bag to hold onto any flavor nudgules that are trapped inside.

The other alternative is using mash tunes, which is way more advanced.

Read more about converting between barley types and also some common first recipes....