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Extract Brewing

Extract brewing means using dry malt extract or liquid malt extract for the majority of the fermentable sugars in the wort. Since extract brewing requires no equipment for mashing grains, most brewers start out this way. Many eventually move on to all grain.


Novice brewers tend to believe that extract brews are somehow inferior to all-grain. This may have been true once, but with fresh ingredients, quality water, and good practices, extract has been shown to be of equal quality. Extract recipes regularly win awards in homebrew competitions.


DME and LME both degrade when stored for long periods of time, and off-flavors can result. It is critically important that you use the freshest extract available. DME is generally considered better for storage.

The “extract twang” is a metallic off-flavor believed to come from stale extract, and believed to be more common with LME.

Steeping grains

Steeping grains are a common method for adding color, flavor, or body to a brew without requiring a full mash. Certain grains, particularly roasted ones, have pre-converted fermentable sugars that will simply leach out into warm water. These grains can be steeped in 160F water for 20-30 minutes to extract the sugars.

Steeping is not the same as an actual mash, and starches are not fully converted to sugars. Using a pale base malt in a steep will result in unfermentable starches extracting into the beer, which will cloud the wort and may negatively affect the taste. Only certain grains are appropriate for a steep.

Steeped grain yields @ How To Brew

Partial vs Full Boil

Though possible in both extract and all-grain brewing, partial boils are more common among extract brewers. Partial boils means performing the wort boil with less than the full batch size (i.e. boiling 3 gallons of wort for a 5 gallon batch), and then topping up with water in the fermenter.

Partial boils allow the brewer to use smaller, more readily available pots. The lower volume of liquid also requires less time to bring to a boil, and is easier to work with on a kitchen stove. The final top off can also be done with chilled water as a way of cooling the wort faster, which is handy for brewers who do not have a wort chiller.

Hop extraction is affected by the specific gravity of the wort. When using a partial boil, the wort is more concentrated so the boil SG is higher than the final OG. Brewers using partial boils should keep this in mind, and adjust for it with late extract addition or increased hop usage.

Late Addition

Late extract addition is the technique of waiting until the end of the boil to add some (or all) of the extract. Extract does not need to be boiled to be fermentable, but it does need to be sterilized, so to add some extract at the beginning of the boil to reach ideal hop extraction levels, and dump the rest of the extract in at the end to be sterilized.

Hop extraction is maximized in worts in the 1.040 - 1.050 SG gravity range. To maximize hop utilization, a brewer will add enough extract at the beginning of the boil to reach an SG in that range. One pound DME per gallon of water achieves this range. With 5 - 10 minutes remaining in the boil, the rest of the extract can be whisked in.

techniques/extract.txt · Last modified: 2017/09/11 12:10 (external edit)