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A Guide to "Extract with Specialty Grain" Brewing

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carniebrew

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A Guide to "Extract with Specialty Grain" Brewing

NOTE: This guide assumes some level of knowledge and experience in home brewing. It is meant as a guide for brewers looking for that next step up from no-boil brewing using pre-hopped kit cans, but who may not be ready to take on the holy grail of all grain brewing. You should already be familiar with cleaning, sanitising, taking gravity measurements and bottling/kegging your beer. If not, there are many articles and threads dedicated to these processes elsewhere on AHB, please make use of them!


What is Extract Brewing?

Extract brewing (sometimes called “Full/All Extract Brewing”) is the process of using un-hopped malt extract to make full volume brews, with either full or partial volume boils. It differs from "Kit & Kilo" (K&K) brewing by using only un-hopped extract (i.e. extract that has not yet been through a brewer's boil/hopping process). This means you need to perform the boil and hop additions yourself, in exactly the same way as an all grain brewer does following their 'mash'. In addition to using malt extract, you can also steep "specialty grain" (malted grain not needing to be mashed) into your brew, adding freshness and allowing for a higher level of control over the end flavour and colour of your beer.

Extract brewing is also perfectly suited to partial volume boils, where the brewer is unable to boil the entire batch volume due to either pot size or heating capacity. Because some of the extract can be held back until the very end of the boil, optimal boil gravities can be achieved to maximise hop acid extraction and lighten the colour of the end brew. This is known as the late extract addition method. Basically what this means is you can make 20 or more litres of top quality home brew even if you can only boil 5 or 10 litres on your kitchen stove. This is probably the biggest draw-card of extract brewing, you need little more than a 4 litre pot at home to make a full batch of great quality beer...with full control over the hops and abv%.

From Brew Wiki: "You can make very high quality beer using extract brewing, but it does not offer the full range of ingredient and process variations that are possible with all grain brewing."


What is malt extract?

I have included this section in the guide because I believe there's some confusion as to what extract really is. Simply, malt extract is nothing more than dehydrated wort. Paraphrased from the Coopers website:
  • Malt extract is produced by mashing finely ground malted barley (as well as un-malted barley, and also wheat depending on the style of extract) with water at a temperature not exceeding 75C, then filtering and evaporating the resulting liquid under partial vacuum until it is the consistency of thick honey. This is known as Liquid Malt Extract (LME). To produce Dried Malt Extract (DME) the LME is spray dried to produce a fine, free flowing powder product.

Malt extract can be purchased in a variety of sizes, most commonly in 1.5kg containers for LME (note that despite being a liquid LME is normally sold by weight, not volume….1 litre of LME weighs approximately 1.5kg). LME can also be bought in bulk, such as Briess’ CBW LME range in 15kg containers (at some home brew shops such as Grain & Grape). DME can be purchased in bags ranging from 500 grams up to 25kg, but will usually be found in 1kg and 5kg amounts. Because DME is so easily stored after partial use, it is often used to ‘top up’ the LME malt bill in a brew…for example, a home brewer may use an entire can (1.5kg) of LME, and 800 grams of a 5kg bag of DME to achieve their desired OG. The empty LME can is discarded, and the remaining 4.2kg of DME is re-sealed and returned to the cupboard for the next brew day.

Both LME and DME are available in different styles, with each style produced using a different variety of barley and/or wheat. The most common types are “Light”, “Amber”, “Dark” and “Wheat”, however some extract producers make further varieties such as Briess’ CBW “Pilsen Light”, “Munich”, “Rye” and “Porter”. It is also worth noting that wheat extract is almost exclusively a blend of wheat and barley grains, normally in a ratio of 60/40 or 65/35 wheat to barley.


What is specialty grain?

Chapter 13 of Palmer's "How to Brew" contains a lot more detail if you're interested...but to paraphrase: Specialty grains are grains that do not need to be "mashed" like base grain....they have been through a kilning process that converts the starches to sugars directly in the grain's hull. Specialty grain contains more complex sugars, some of which are unfermentable, lending a caramel-type sweetness. Once cracked, specialty grain can simply be steeped in hot water (< 70C) to add colour, flavour and freshness to extract brews. Examples include crystal/caramel, toasted and roasted malts.

How to brew beer using malt extract

The process of making beer using malt extract is very similar to that used by all grain brewers once they have completed their mash. In fact when performing a full-volume boil with extract, the process is basically identical once the boil timer is started. Once the wort has been brought to a rolling boil the hop additions begin, then post-boil the wort is cooled (either using the rapid chill or no chill method), yeast is pitched and fermentation begins.

Partial volume boil extract brewing differs slightly, in that only the amount of extract necessary to bring the boil gravity up to around 1040 is added at the start of the boil, with the rest of the extract held back until the end of the boil. Both full and partial volume boil processes are discussed in the following guide.

Probably the best way to start out with full extract brewing is to find a recipe for the style of beer you'd like to make. The recipe database here on AHB (currently still not fully operational) has many 'extract with specialty grain' recipes, as do many other sites such as homebrewtalk.com and hopville.com (although you will need to convert the ingredients from imperial to metric on those last two).

I highly recommend using a software package for designing your extract brews. You can enter the recipe you've found, tweak it to your own personal preferences if need be, and print out a 'brewday worksheet' to refer to during your brewing. You can also tell the software what your boil volume will be, and it will show you if any changes to hop quantities are needed to achieve the recipe's target IBU's. My own personal experience, backed up by fellow partial volume boil brewers, is that when boiling 10 litres or more, the original recipe's hop schedule should not need adjustment. Lower volumes than 10 litres will likely need more hops at each addition to stay close to the intended outcome. But you can decide this for yourself after your first few brews.

There are a number of software packages available for extract brewers, such as Brewmate, and Ianh’s free “Kit & Extract Beer Designer”, a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that has become my tool of choice since I started extract brewing. These packages allow you to enter the amount and type of extract, specialty grain, adjuncts, hops and yeast you will be using in your brew, and shows you what the resulting abv%, IBU level and EBC colour should be achieved. Ian’s spreadsheet even has an extremely useful graph to show how your recipe compares to the style you’re trying to achieve.

Once your beer has been designed, and you have your ingredients ready to go, here’s how to put it all together:

1. If using specialty grains, steep them in at least 3 times their weight in water heated to around 70 degrees celcius (e.g. 3 litres for 1kg of spec grain). This could be done by placing the grain in a hop/grain sock (or directly in a 2nd pot; see "Other Suggestions" below)….heat the water to 70 degrees, turn off the heat and place the grain into the pot, dunking and swirling to ensure it is fully wetted. With specialty grain the water temperature is not as critical as with an all grain “mash”. Starting at 70C then letting it drop naturally during the steep is fine.

2. After 30 minutes, remove the grain bag and let it drain into the pot (squeezing if you like, or rinsing with < 70C water). Put the bag aside and turn on the heat. Fill the pot with water to your desired boil volume (straight from a boiling kettle will speed things up) and bring the whole lot to the boil (this can be done with the lid on to speed up the process, but be very careful not to let it boil over). While the water is reaching the boil, get your extract and hops measured out and ready.

3. As soon as you achieve a boil, turn off the heat. Add enough LME/DME to bring your boil gravity up to 1040 (if doing a full volume boil, you may elect to add all your extract now. If doing a smaller volume boil, your software should tell you how much extract is needed). Without accounting for any steeped grain, a 1040 gravity is achieved by adding around 100gm DME/130gm LME for every litre of water in your pot. 300 grams of steeped grain reduces the amount of DME/LME needed in a 10l boil to 900gm DME/1.1kg LME.

4. Mix the malt well, ensuring it is completely blended into the water. Any malt that settles to the bottom of the pot may be scorched during the boil, darkening your beer and contributing burnt sugar/caramelised flavours. Turn the heat back on and return to the boil.

5. Once back to the boil, start your hop timer (normally 60 minutes), and perform your bittering hop addition, stirring well. Continue your hop additions during the boil as desired.

6. If you haven't added all of your extract to the boil as yet, with 5 minutes left on the boil timer turn off the heat and quickly add the remainder of your malt extract and any adjuncts you may be using. Mix well again, and return once again to the boil. Boil for a few more minutes then the boil is complete.

7. If using no-chill you can now cube your wort (and if you did a partial volume boil top up to your desired batch volume). If chilling, cool your wort to the desired temperature using your preferred method (ice bath, immersion chiller etc).

8. Transfer the wort to the fermenter (if you're brewing in a pot without a tap, you may choose to strain the boil through a sanitised strainer to remove the hop matter). Top up to the desired batch volume as necessary, and remember to stir the wort well to ensure the top up water is blended fully with the boiled wort. Once your wort is at the desired temperature, take an OG reading, pitch your yeast and ferment.

That’s it! Once your beer is fermented, bottle or keg as per normal, and enjoy! The process above will provide an excellent grounding if you decide to move to all-grain brewing somewhere down the track, or you may be making beer so good using this method you might very well stick with it, as many extract brewers around the world already do. If you’re doing partial volume boils, you can even combine some of this method with all grain, by performing “partial mashes”, where you mash enough grain (perhaps half) to achieve the 1040 boil gravity, then use extract to complete the grain bill at the end of the boil.

Other suggestions

As always, there is more than one way to skin a cat. My guide above is primarily driven by what I learned from following Palmer’s “How to Brew”, adjusted to allow for late extract addition (which Palmer doesn’t
mention), as well as my practical experience. I have tried to keep it pretty simple and easy to follow. While discussing this guide with other AHB members, I’ve received some great suggestions for speeding up the process, and some alternative approaches for some of the steps above. I’m sure we’ll see many more ideas in the ensuing discussion below, that you may choose to integrate into your process once you’re comfortable with how everything works. Here’s some examples;
  • Instead of using your main brew pot to heat your steeping water to 70 degrees then steeping for 30 minutes, use a second pot filled with enough hot water (e.g. 2 litres) straight from the tap to steep your grains. While your steep is happening, brew your kettle a number of times, pouring the boiled water into your main pot while on high heat to keep it boiling. When your steep is finished, pour the contents of the 2nd pot into your main pot and skip straight to step 3.
  • Instead of using a hop/grain sock for steeping grains, put the grain directly into a second pot with 70C water (as above). If you want to keep the pot at 70C, place it in the oven at that temperature for 30 minutes. Otherwise just leave it on the stovetop and let the temperature drop. Stir occasionally. When the 30 minutes is over strain the water into your brew kettle, return the grain to the steeping pot and add another litre or so of hot (< 70C) water. Stir, then strain once again into the brew kettle.
  • Instead of adding any remaining fermentables towards the end of the boil (in step 6), skip to step 7, and while your boiled wort is chilling, add the fermentables along with a litre or so of hot boiled water directly into the fermenter and dissolve. Once your wort is chilled, pour on top of the wort already in the fermenter. The main reason for adding the fermentables to the end of the boil is to ensure no bacteria is introduced to the wort…if you’re ok with this small risk, you can save time by not boiling them at all.
  • If you are doing a partial volume boil (and not using “no chill”), you can speed up the chilling of your wort by using ice in place of some of your top up water. The day before you brew, freeze some boiled water in a sanitised container (e.g. 2 litre ice cream container). Then when you are chilling your pot post-boil, add the ice directly into the pot to bring the temp down much more rapidly (or after you’ve poured your wort into the fermenter if your pot is too full). You then have the added benefit of using even more boiled water in your final wort, rather than straight from the tap.
 

Liam_snorkel

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Ten points for effort carniebrew. Perhaps wait until the articles section is back online, and you can get to work with other members of the forum consolidating the number of existing articles relating to extract brewing.

EDIT: spaeelingk
 

Hippy

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Yeh mate well done and I'm sure you will help a lot of people ready to take the next step.
 

Nick JD

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The first rule of educating people is you must not have a need to be seen as educated. Dumb it down as far as you can and then dumb it down some more. When we know stuff it's easy to forget just how much we know. People will still be confused by your dumbest writing. Trust me.

The second rule is, don't use unfamiliar nomenclature.

See what I did there?

Don't use big words when little ones mean the same thing.

Third rule is use pictures. You can never have enough pictures. The pictures should show what the noob should see when they do it.

Forth rule is to remind yourself about the first rule repeatedly. Your task is to edumacate others, not have them think you are smart. Smart is getting others smarter.

Fifth rule is pour a beer.

Unfortunately we spend our whole life trying to win points by writing cleverly. When we want to impart knowledge we've often lost the ability to explain it how it actually happens. In simple terms.

I think it's awesome that you've taken the time to do this. How about getting the camera out and taking us for a walk-through, in simple language, of your brew day? Omit the theory and the underlying gist ... just give the nuts and bolts of making great extract beer. This forum needs it.
 

carniebrew

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Happy to add pics from next brew day....gave it some thought last brew day and couldn't think of much I would be showing different though? Here's some extract. Here's a pot. Here's some boiling water. Here's 10 litres of boiling water with 1.3kg of malt mixed in to make 1040 boil gravity.
 

Nick JD

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Imagine you've never seen either a bag of LDME, or a hop pellet before.

You've been warming a can of goop from Coles in some hot water, pouring it and a kg of sugar in your fermenter - and adding cold water and yeast.

Imagine you don't even know that hops are funny cone flowers. An IBU. WTF is an IBU?

Ignore all the fluff.

A guy who has only ever made K&K walks in your door while you are just about to start a batch. Write what you would show that guy.

That's the key here: show, don't tell. Nine out of ten people are visual learners, and ten out of ten people who need this will shit bricks when the LDME they've never used before turns to malteezers in their hot water.

When that guy you're showing says, "Huh?" in your head, simplify rather than expand. Tell him it doesn't matter - add this much hops for this long of boiling: he can discover IBUs in his own time. And he will. Knowledge is addictive.
 

bum

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Nick JD said:
A guy who has only ever made K&K walks in your door while you are just about to start a batch. Write what you would tell that guy.
Let me preface this by saying that I completely agree that his tone is all wrong.

Nick, the trouble with that attitude is that it assumes that people finish reading a guide and think "Cool, what underpins all this?" rather than "Cool. Done. Too easy."

I think there is a large and vocal segment of the AHB community that bears this out. People who seem to think there's nothing in between stove-tops/coffee grinders and 6 thousand pumps and 3-phase rennos.

Surely there's a happy medium?
 

pk.sax

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Probably mention that using dry malt extract of any flavour in your brew is not that different to the bag of BE whatever you add to a coopers kit. It contains malt extract that is ready to be fermented upon hydration.

Only difference to the kit is that it is I hopped and needs bittering (and flavour/aroma if that is your wont).

Brewing with extract isn't rocket science, but there is good reason it's not that popular, you pay kit prices for the extract and still have to bitter it yourself. fml. Grain is cheaper. Mashing takes no time (not like you have to stand over your mash), boiling can be left unattended after the first bit, come back and pop in some hops.

Your attacks on all grain brewers are silly, we do it for the love of the process as much as the beer and the cost. Preaching to the wrong crowd. Hitherto, comparing the 'cost' and 'time' benefits of your style of brewing to brewing from base malted grain is very irrelevant. You got a bastardised version setup based on some cheap malt extract you laid hands on and it makes (hopefully/likely) palatable and perhaps pleasing beer. Congrats.

If you are trying to push that to people, I'd suggest strongly that you cut out the AG comparison crap. It's not doing your intentions any good.

PS: you can take the jibe at the top of your post about making it simpler for AG brewers and shove it up.
 

Econwatson

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I feel that a guide like this is pretty much aimed at guys like me. I've done one extract brew, a kit and a toucan, so I am really just starting out. I also feel that most people start on a kit (even though I didn't!) and maybe move on to extract later, where by that time they have at least a decent knowledge of some of the terminology.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Make-Beer/?ALLSTEPS

The link above is what I followed to make my first ever batch of beer. I was basically herded through the process by the instructor, and when I came on here I really had no idea what I had done apart from make beer. My knowledge of IBUs and any other terminology was absolute zero.

Perhaps if carniebrew included a glossary of terms, at the end, it could help a novice. But as it stands, the guide tells you more why you should do things, as well as how, which I think is a really good thing. If he had to define every technical term he used within the guide, it would become bloated, and less useable.

For me personally, carniebrew has been a great help to me beginning my time as a home-brewer, answering my dumb questions and filling the gaps in my knowledge, and I'd like to thank him for that!
 

slash22000

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practicalfool said:
Probably mention that using dry malt extract of any flavour in your brew is not that different to the bag of BE whatever you add to a coopers kit. It contains malt extract that is ready to be fermented upon hydration.
This is poor advice.

Coopers Brew Enhancer 1 contains 600g dextrose, 400g maltodextrin. Brew Enhancer 2 contains 250g dry malt, 250g maltodextrin and 500g dextrose. I think everybody would agree that brewing a beer with pure dry malt is going to be different than brewing a beer made almost entirely of dextrose.

I would also note that people seem much more pissed off about extract brewing than Carniebrew seems pissed off by all-grain brewing.
 

bum

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There's no reason for any comparison of methods at all. It isn't a treatise on the relative merits of the method (well, it shouldn't be). It is a how-to.

And equating the cost of setting up a 3V system to that of a BM is ludicrous. Many people build their tuns with stuff they have lying about the house/garage.

Since we're persisting with this - why do you stress that this isn't a guide for beginners then go on to explain what malt is?
 

Econwatson

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Do people consider BIAB and traditional 3V methods as linked because they are both AG? Because the BIAB guide thread compares the two quite explicitly.

Maybe it would be good to have the method first, then comparisons (if there are going to be any) after the guide. That way people can read and compare if they want to. But if people have clicked on a guide to partial brewing, you can be fairly certain they already know they want to brew one, and don't need further convincing.
 

bum

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Econwatson said:
But if people have clicked on a guide to partial brewing,
And so it begins...

This is not partial brewing. This is not your fault.

I agree with your points though.
 

carniebrew

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Econwatson said:
Do people consider BIAB and traditional 3V methods as linked because they are both AG? Because the BIAB guide thread compares the two quite explicitly.

Maybe it would be good to have the method first, then comparisons (if there are going to be any) after the guide. That way people can read and compare if they want to. But if people have clicked on a guide to partial brewing, you can be fairly certain they already know they want to brew one, and don't need further convincing.
Aye. And it's in the K&E forum too, where it belongs. And I would prefer to have it in the articles, but that's obviously not an option right now.

Need to be somewhat careful with calling it 'partial brewing'...there is 'partial mash' brewing that it could be confused with. I use the term "partial boiling", which I picked up mostly from homebrewtalk.com, but am open to something more appropriate. Hell I call 330 ml stubbies with slender necks "long necks", and 750ml bottles tallies...my mates reckon 750ml bottles are long necks and anything smaller is just a stubbie (with no differentiation over VB short necks and every other slender elongated neck). They've never heard of a 'tallie'. Might be back from growing up in country WA.
 

pk.sax

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I haven't a problem with that what you just said.

And no, you putting stuff after the fact does not help. Why not start with the simple and cut out the comparisons, period. Is that so hard? You admit yourself that this isn't aimed at the all grain brewers. Then why bother with comparisons? Just keep it out of it. Your guide is clear as the Brisbane river was after the storms that just hit us. It IS poor.
I've just pointed out one of the annoying factors that make it very poor. That bit is consistent over your posting, you know I've commented on that before too.

Btw, I've actually asked a few different kit brewers - why? Out of curiosity. And got decent answers, a few have even discussed some points that they picked up off others who just bagged their beer but didn't bother helping. Hopefully I answered a thing or two that helps someone improve their stuff or get rid of annoying aspects of their kit. Again, keep it simple and they listen.
 

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bum said:
I strongly suspect there will be more who will hampered by his efforts.

I only see one person suggesting extract brewing isn't worth doing. The victim complex needs to end, guys.
Fair enough. The numbered points though, apart from boiling the extract and using a sock for the grain are pretty much how I do it. To me following this method produces better beer than using a kit base,
 

bum

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VonScott said:
Fair enough. The numbered points though, apart from boiling the extract and using a sock for the grain are pretty much how I do it. To me following this method produces better beer than using a kit base,
For sure. I've already mentioned that the very small part that actually addresses his stated intention (the numbered steps) aren't pure evil. Dunno if you read all of the rest of it? Some of it is pretty not great - I just don't like the idea of people setting out to consolidate pretty not great information into a one-stop-shop of crap.

If I were to offer an improvement on the steps themselves, a quick rinse of the grains after the soak might be useful.
 

thedragon

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Carnie, I don't brew with extract, nor do I agree with everything that you say. To me biab is not much more effort that the process that you've described. I enjoy the AG process, love the fact that I'm doing things from scratch (well almost) and I enjoy the beer I make.

Extract brewing is your thing, just as biab is mine. Full respect to you for giving the guide a crack, I'm sure there are K&K brewers out there that will try your process - right or wrong - and work out what works for them, just as you've done.

Maybe just tone down the AG v extract rivalry. Your initial guide came across as being a little defensive, justifying why the extract method is just as good as or better than AG. It gives the impression that you see extract brewing as being less than AG and you're trying to make up for it.

To me the best how to guide on here is Nick's biab guide: in his guide Nick didn't spend time justifying why biab is better, worse or equal to 3v or any other method. He just sticks to the process.

Chin up and keep up the passion.

Edit: typo
 

Scottye

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bum said:
For sure. I've already mentioned that the very small part that actually addresses his stated intention (the numbered steps) aren't pure evil. Dunno if you read all of the rest of it? Some of it is pretty not great - I just don't like the idea of people setting out to consolidate pretty not great information into a one-stop-shop of crap.

If I were to offer an improvement on the steps themselves, a quick rinse of the grains after the soak might be useful.
Yes I rinse, and its easy because I don't use a sock. If it was me I would just say for anyone looking to make the next step here is how I do an extract brew, steps 1, 2, 3.... But then I feel that everything thing should be structured.
 

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