|Another analysis of the question - and where I stole this image.|
Because I've gone back to extract kits.
I'm not saying that I'll never go all-grain again. I'm not planning on getting rid of my equipment (that a friend gave me for free) but I don't see myself doing an all grain kit anytime in the near future. Maybe if I see a really cool all-grain recipe or I get some sort of brilliant idea where all-grain is the better option, I'll do it again. But I just made an extract kit today, and I've got two more out in the garage for the next couple of batches that I brew.
There are advantages to all-grain. One of them is that the kits are about $10 cheaper. Also, you have more control over the finished product. For instance, if you can control the temperature just right as you mash the grains, you can control whether your beer is more on the malty or sweet side. Oh, and I suppose that if you own a cow, you have a nice treat for her when you're all done with the grains.
The problem is that with more control there are more ways for you to screw something up. Yeah, if you can control the temperature you can control the flavor, but CAN you control the temperature? There are a lot of variables in that alone, one of the most crucial being how warm it is outside as you have them in the mash. (There's some really expensive equipment you can get that will control it precisely if you want.)
Sure, you'll save some money, but you're going to be out there brewing for at least an additional two to three hours, nearly doubling the time you'd normally spend brewing your beer. For me, that was the deciding factor. I figured that two hours was worth ten bucks. I was outside, frustrated in the heat that it was taking so long, and my wife asked me why I was doing that to myself, as I normally seemed much more enthusiastic about brewing.
With the few all-grain batches I've made, I didn't notice a significant difference in quality. I know that I definitely noticed one when I went from a three gallon boil (which required me to add two gallons of water at the end) to a five gallon boil (which required the purchase of an outdoor burner). However with this? The only really noticeable thing was how much clearer my beers looked, but when a beer tastes really good, you kinda stop giving a crap about how clear it is or isn't.
I'm definitely glad that my friend gave me the equipment though. I had been toying with the idea of making the leap to all-grain, but doing so would have set me back a couple hundred dollars. I also had a good time with the few batches I made (with the exception of the last one) and like I said before, I'll probably eventually make another. (Perhaps for my annual pumpkin ale?)
However, if you're on the fence, ask yourself the following questions before you make the leap (unless you have a generous friend like I do):
1. Are you satisfied with the beers you're making?
2. Would you potentially miss $200?
3. Would you rather save some time than save some money?
If you answered yes to all of these, then you might want to just stick with what you're doing.