Extract Brewing: The Ultimate Guide for Beginners

Without a doubt, one of the best things about brewing your own beer at home is how versatile it can be. There are lots of different things that you can brew yourself at home, from stouts to lagers, and you can even attempt to create your own unique alcoholic beverages.

That is the beauty of home brewing. One type of home brewing that lots of people enjoy is extract brewing.

Some people think that extract brewing is a safe route, but this isn’t the case. Extract brewing is a real skill, and something that you have to master. But, malt extracts can produce excellent quality beers. So, if you want to give home brewing a go, and fancy trying something a little different, then extract brewing is the way forward. 

In this guide, we’ve put together everything that you need to know as a beginner to extract brewing. So, let’s jump right in. 

Malt Extract: The Different Types

The key to extract brewing is malt extract, but what is it?

Well, like most beers, extract beers begin with a grain, and in this type of beer, that grain is mashed. When we speak about ‘mashing’, we mean the action of crushing grain and mixing it together with water to release sugar and starch. 

The mashed mixture is then drained of water to create a concentrate. As this concentrate went through the ‘mashing’ process, it is packed with sugar, which will later be used to produce alcohol.

But, it is important to know that there are two types of malt extract, they are liquid and dry malt extract. So, let’s take a look at these different types to compare them.

Dry Malt Extract

Dry malt and liquid malt extract both start out in the same form. This is because dry malt extract was once liquid, it has simply been through a very intense dehydration process to make it dry.

Liquid malt extract is liquid because it still contains water, but dry malt extract has almost all of this malt extract removed from it. 

There are lots of benefits of dry malt extract, one of the most notable being that it is easier to measure than liquid malt extract. Its dry form also makes it less hassle to keep it stored in your home, and generally makes the whole brewing process a lot cleaner.

If that wasn’t enough, this style of malt extract also has a longer shelf life. 

Dry malt extract is also the way forward if you want a very stand home brew. Due to the inclusion of water and the Mort, liquid malt extract can have a very unique taste, but this doesn’t occur with dry malt extract. So it can be used to create a much more reliable base for your beer. 

But, even though we have listed a lot of good things about dry malt extract, it is worth noting that it does have some negatives. For example, dry malt extract relies heavily on the additional specialty grains added to it to create flavor.

It is also worth noting that the color produced by dry malt extract is very different to the color achieved with liquid malt extract. 

Liquid Malt Extract 

Liquid malt extract is incredibly different to dry malt extract. The main difference between these two ingredients is fairly self-explanatory, as liquid malt extract comes in liquid form and dry malt extract is dried out. But what are the other differences between these two forms of malt extract?

Liquid malt extract is not runny in the same way that water is. Instead, it has a syrup-like texture, and is very thick as only around 20% of the mixture is made up of water. However, due to this water in its ingredient list, liquid malt extract has a much shorter shelf life than dried malt extract. 

To give your liquid malt extract the best shelf life, it is advised that you store it in a cool and dark place. If it is kept in these conditions, and left unopened, then your liquid malt extract will last for around two years. But, once you open it, the shelf life of this syrup will decrease significantly. 

Liquid malt extract is the better choice if you are hoping to achieve a very specific flavor when brewing. This is because it comes in a variety of different flavors, and also comes with lots of different hop options so that you can find the one that is right for you.

Dry malt extract is the better option for lots of different reasons, but if you are new to extract brewing, then you might choose to start out with liquid malt extract. 

Using Specialty Grains To Homebrew

All beers have grains as their base, and with some types of brewing, these grains can really shine through. But, due to the preparation process for extract brewing, a lot of the flavor from these grains gets lost along the way.

Due to this, you might find that your end result lacks the malty flavor. One way to work around this is to use specialty grains in the wort of your home brew. 

The alcohol content of your home brew comes from the base grain extract that forms a concentrate. As long as this stands, you can mess around with flavors as much as you want to create a truly unique extract beer.

You can add unusual flavors like chocolate or coffee to your beer, or you can go for a more traditional flavor. To achieve this, you will need to use specialty grains. Now, let’s take a look at how to home brew using malt extract. 

Home Brewing With Malt Extract: How To Do It

If you want to home brew with malt extract, but don’t know how to do it, then you are in the right place. We’re going to tell you how to do it, in this quick and easy guide, so keep on reading. 

Extract Brewing: What You Need

The key to home brewing successfully is to have the correct equipment. Here is a complete list of everything that you will need:

  • Airlock
  • Auto Siphon
  • Bottle Filler
  • Bottle Caps
  • Bottle Capper
  • Beer Bottles
  • Brew kettle
  • Brewing Spoon
  • Brewing sanitizer
  • Digital Scale
  • Fermentation bucket
  • Mesh bag (for specialty grains)
  • Priming Sugar
  • Rubber Stopper with a small hole
  • Thermometer
  • Vinyl Tubing

We are aware that this is a very extensive list. If you have made any sort of home brew before, then you will likely already own a lot of this equipment. But, if you are new to home brewing, you might choose to invest in a beer brewing kit to easily get your hands on all of this equipment. 

Steep The Specialty Grains

You are then ready to begin brewing. Start off by focusing on your specialty grains. Place your chosen specialty grains into the mesh bag that we mentioned earlier, and tie the bag shut.

Then take your brew kettle and fill it with a few quarts of water at 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Once it reaches this temperature, turn off the heat and add your bag of grains.

Secure the kettle’s lid in place and leave the grains to soak for 30 minutes. After this time has passed, remove the grain bag and throw it away. If your recipe does not include specialty grains, simply skip this step. 

Add The Malt

Moving on, you should add the rest of your water to the brew kettle and set the temperature to a slightly lower temperature of 155 degrees Fahrenheit.

When it reaches this temperature, kill the heat and then add your malt. Follow the necessary instructions for either liquid or dry malt, depending on whatever you have chosen. 

Add The Hops And Boil The Wort

When the malt has been extracted as per the instructions for your specific malt, you can then move onto the next step. First things first, you need to bring the mixture to a boil and add your wort.

Follow your recipe and set a timer for the necessary time. Then, you can focus on the hops. Most recipes will tell you how many hops to add to the recipe, but a lot of this is down to personal preference. So, if you want to add more hops, then go for it. 

Cool The Wort

Next it is time to cool the Wort. If you have a fancy immersion chiller, then this is the time to use it. But, if you do not, there’s no need to worry.

Most home brewers do not have this fancy piece of equipment, and so they instead cool their wort by filling a tub with cold water and ice. Leave the lid on your kettle and submerge it in the water, keep it in there until its temperature drops to around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Sanitize 

When your Wort is cooling in the tub, work on sanitizing your equipment. This equipment should include the fermentation basket, airlock, siphon, and tubing.

To do this, we recommend filling your fermentation bucket with water and disinfectant, and then submerge the rest of the equipment in it. Soak all of this equipment for around an hour and then let it air dry.

Your equipment might remain foamy, but don’t worry, this is normal, and it will not affect the beer that you brew in it. 

Pitch The Yeast And Transfer The Wort

When the wort has cooled, you can then transfer it into your nice and clean fermentation bucket using your squeaky clean siphon. The most important thing to ensure is that the bottom of the siphon stays above the sludge that is at the bottom of your brew kettle.

You then need to give your Wort some air. Do this by giving the fermentation bucket a good shake, then you are ready to add your artificial yeast to the mixture. But be careful that none of the packaging falls into your wort. 

Then Wait 

It is then time to wait for fermentation. This is a bit of a tedious process, and it begins with filling the airlock with sanitizer. Add this to the top of your fermentation bucket, then place the bucket into a dark and cool place.

You should then follow the fermentation instructions on the recipe that you are following. But generally, fermentation will take a minimum of one week to complete. So it is important to bear this in mind when you are choosing a location to keep your fermentation bucket in. 

Bottle It Up

When your home brew is ready, usually within a week or two, you can then move onto the next step. Before you do anything, it is important that you clean equipment, and then you can move on. To begin, calculate the priming sugar that you need or use a priming tablet.

Follow the instructions for the specific product that you are using. Then fill your bottles up, ensuring that you leave space in the bottle for carbonation. You can then add your bottle caps. Use your bottle capper to achieve tight and firm results. 

Enjoy!

Once you have filled your bottles up, store them in a cool and dark place until you are ready to drink them. Beer bottles are prone to smashing, so bear this in mind when you store them.

It is best to leave your bottled beer for around 2 weeks before you drink it to ensure that carbonation is complete. If you plan on giving your beer to family and friends, give a bottle or two a taste to ensure that they are ready to drink. Then all that is left is to enjoy. 

Summary

In short, this has been a complete beginners guide to extract brewing. Whether you are completely new to home brewing, or simply new to extract brewing, there is all the information that you could possibly need to know in this guide.

So, if you want to give extract brewing a try, and don’t know where to begin, you are in the right place.