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Next Step For An Extract Newbie?

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nacnud

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I've been brewing coopers kits and sugar for several years (while I was a student) and have recently decided to attempt something that tastes more like beer (now that I can afford it)! So I've done a couple of basic Ale extract brews so far. I've just been using 1.5kg LME and 1Kg DME with a Safale yeast and a couple of hop additions (cluster for bittering and cascade for finishing). The resulting brew is far better than the kit and white sugar recipe but I'm not sure where to go from here but I want to take it in small steps so I can tell which changes are having which effects. The main things I would like to change are the sweetness and colour. The Ales I have brewed so far have been a little darker and sweeter than I had hoped even though I've been using the light extracts.

So what would you suggest as the next step towards the perfect pale ale?
 

waggastew

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Have a look around for info on partial mashing. Basically you do a mini mash with some grain. Helps out with malt complexity, means you can lighten up the brew and you can get more variation.
 

Juzdu

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get a copy of ianh's spreadsheet,will help.
Big +1 on that, the ability to see on the graph exactly what tweaks to the amount of grain, DME, LME, adjuncts & hops will do to your beer is invaluable. In your case if you're doing partial boils, use the spreadsheet with the Hop Concentration Factor (HCF) turned on, put in the volume of your boil and it will tell you how much LME to add to your pot to get to a gravity of 1040, which is the preferred SG for adding your hops. Spreadsheet is here.
 

thedragon

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Mcnud, for me the stepping stone between k&k and all grain was one of those pre packaged brewcraft kits which contain lme, hop pellets, a small quantity of crystal malt, various other bits and a recipe. It was way over priced and I only ever brought one. However the beer I made with it was light years ahead of the k&ks that I'd been doing. The next few brews I started to cobble together my own ingredients based on recipes in the AHB recipeDB (1/3 the price of buying a pre packaged kit). I probably did 3 of these before moving on to AG.

Try giving one of the kits a go - or build your own after looking at the recipeDB. Dr Smurto's Golden Ale is a good place to start, and it's a brilliant drop. Hopefully this will give you the confidence with the mash and boil you need to move on to AG some time down the track.

Ianh's spreadsheet is well regarded, however my preference is brewmate (google it)

Good luck mate.
 

m3taL

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Plenty on YouTube on doing partials and mini mashes brewers love to film themselfs haha
 

KingKong

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get a copy of ianh's spreadsheet,will help.
+1 .

And don't be worried by all the jargon. Take your time, read stuff you don't understand, eventually it starts to make sense. Have fun and enjoy brewing at what ever level your at. :beerbang:
 

Don Runk

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if you want to go "baby steps" try all malt and excluding dextrose altogether, a little more expensive yes but worth it. I have a batch 3/4 done at the moment and i chilled and carbed my hydro test sample and it was WAY better than anything i've done to date. even though it's way beyond being done.
food for thought.
 

nacnud

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Thanks guys. Wow, that spreadsheet is pretty intense. Will no doubt give me some good ideas though. Might give one of the kits a go too, Dragon. Probably a good way to start with specialty grains? I'm a bit bewildered by them at the moment.
 

thedragon

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No problem. Feel free to pm me if you need a point in the right direction.
 

Droughtmaster

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the first time i bought home some crystal malts to soak in me extract brew ,i didn't have a clue what to do or how to crush em i ended up putting em in a tee shirt and bashing the funk out of em with a glass bottle.
moral of the story ask ya local home brew shop if ya can have em crushed , else it's a pain if ya don't have the stuff to do it .
 

verysupple

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Just my 2c:

The best difference I got was steeping specialty/crytal grain. Improves flavour a LOT and helps a lot with head retention too (if you're into that).
 

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