Basic Guidelines For Brewing Beer With Malt Extract
First Time Brewing With Extract
Malt extract (both pre-hopped and un-hopped) are all about making good beer as simply and easily as possible. It is our goal to assist you get the best finished product possible. First we will start with the basics of working with extract kits found at most homebrew shops. They are basically concentrated, unfermented beer. Next we will move to an extract only beer that you will need to add hops to for the boil. Finally we will introduce some terms most brewers should familiarize themselves with to talk the homebrew lingo.
First Time Homebrewer Equipment Requirements
We highly recommend you acquire a beginner kit from a reputable homebrew supplier. That should cover most all of the specialty equipment (outside of ingredients) like a hydrometer, racking cane, fermenter, bottling bucket and bottling wand to name a few items. We would also recommend a 3-5 gallon (12-19 L) stock pot to get going and be sure to start your collection of good, solid bottles (no twist-offs). They can be acquired from most homebrew supply stores as well. Need to find a homebrew supplier? Search here to find a homebrew shop in your area.
Instructions for making great no-boil beer from a beer kit:
1. Bring 2 quarts (~ 2 L) of water to 160-180 °F (71 to 82 °C), basically steaming but not boiling. Then remove from heat.
2. Add your beer kit and additional fermentables according to the directions. Suggested fermentables include brewers sugar, dried malt extract, liquid malt extract, rice syrup, demerera sugar, Belgian candi sugar or any combination of the above. Each will impart its own unique flavor profile. Ask your local shop owner for advice on how to get what you want.
3. Stir aggressively to ensure that everything gets dissolved. Put a lid on the pot and let it sit for 10-15 minutes on the lowest heat setting. This should keep your temperature in the 1160-180 °F (71 to 82 °C) range you need to ensure that you achieve sanitation.
4. Add the contents of your pot to 4 gallons (15 L) of water already in your fermenter. Mix well, at least a minutes or two. This helps aerate your wort prior to your yeast addition. If you take hydrometer reading you will need to mix aggressively for a good 4-5 minutes to get even consistency throughout the wort. If you have any questions about proper sanitization techiques for your equipment, definitely consult your local homebrew shop.
5. When the side of your fermenter feels cool to the touch, it is safe to add your yeast. Some authors recommend re-hydrating your yeast in water first. I have never been able to discern a difference when doing side-by-side comparisons with good quality yeasts, and I don't care for the additional contamination risk.
6. Ferment as close to recommended temperature range as possible. Live in warm climate? Refer to this article to make a budget swamp cooler to keep your fermentation temperatures under control.
7. When activity in the airlock drops to a bubble every 1.5-2 minutes, fermentation is pretty much done. If this has been completed within 2-4 days, leave in fermenter for an additional 2-4 days for clearing.
8. When you are ready to bottle, put all your clean bottles upside down in the bottom rack of your dishwasher and allow it to run through the rinse and dry cycle. Be sure the "heat dry" option is on. It is the steam that sanitizes your bottles. Boil 1 cup of water with 3/4 cup of corn sugar for a couple of minutes. Allow to cool then add to your sanitized bottling container. With the help of your racking cane, transfer your beer to your bottling container, give it a couple of gentle stirs and bottle.
Instructions for making great extract only beer (recipe provided below):
1. Bring 3 gallons (11.4 L) quarts of water to 160-180 °F (71 to 82 °C). Then remove from heat.
2. Add your malt extract and any additional fermentables according to the recipe. Stir aggressively to ensure that everything gets dissolved, you should not feel any clumps at the bottom of the brewpot. Then turn the heat back on and bring to a boil.
3. Once you reach a boil, add your first addition of hops. Add the rest of the hops according to the directions in the recipe. Important note: the time of a given hop addtion is usually indicated by how much time is left in the boil, so a 15 minute hop addition indicates there should be 15 minutes left in the boil when you add those hops. During the boil, take the time to thoroughly clean and santize any equipment that will touch the wort after the boil such as your fermenter, airlock and funnel (if using).
4. Place the brewpot in an ice bath either in your sink or other large container to cool the wort down as quickly as possible.
5. Add the contents of your pot to 2 gallons (7.6 L) of water already in your fermenter. Mix well, at least a minutes or two. This helps aerate your wort prior to your yeast addition. If you take hydrometer reading you will need to mix aggressively for a good 4-5 minutes to get even consistency throughout the wort. Again be sure that any thing in contact with the wort is properly sanitized
6. Now you can refer to step 5 through 8 in the no-boil instructions given above to get you the rest of the way there. For a more in-depth look at a typical extract brew day, check out this article by Forrest Whitesides
(5 gallon/19 L, extract only)
OG = 1.048 FG = 1.012
IBU = 20 ABV = 4.7%
6.6 lbs. (3 kg) wheat liquid malt extract
1 oz. (28 g) Hallertauer pellet hops (boil 60 min.)
0.5 oz. (14 g) Hallertauer pellet hops (boil 10 min.)
Lallemand Munich Classic or Safbrew WB-06 or Mangrove Jack's M20 (Bavarian Wheat) yeast
3/4 cup priming sugar for bottling
Step By Step
Heat 3 gallons (11.4 L) of water to 160 °F (71 °C), then stir in malt extract. Stir aggressively to be sure all the extract is dissolved. Bring wort to a boil and add the first round of hops, the bittering hops. Keep adding water to try to maintain at least 3 gallons (11.4 L) of wort. With 10 minutes left in the boil, add second flavor addition of hops. When the boil is over, remove the brewpot and place the brewpot in an ice bath. Once the temperature drop below 100 °F (38 °C), pour the wort into your fermenter and add cold, aerated water to your bucket fermenter until you reach 5 gallons (19 L). Wait until the temperature reaches about 70 °F (21 °C), then it is time to pitch your yeast. If you have the equipment, take a sample of wort and record your original gravity with a hydrometer. Ferment for 1 week, trying to hold the ambient temperature around 68 °F (20 °C). Optional: After one week you can transfer the beer via racking cane into a carboy to help clear the beer.
After two weeks, check the gravity with a hydrometer to see the final gravity. Bottle the beer with priming sugar and condition the beer for 2 weeks at room temperature. One month after brewday, your beer should be carbonated and ready to drink.
Basic Homebrewing Glossary:
adjunct: any substitute unmalted grain or fermentable ingredient to the brew. In extract brewing this is often simple sugars such as molasses, brown sugar, honey, etc...
ale: a generic term for beers produced by top fermentation (i.e. using ale yeast strains) at temperatures higher than lager fermentation temperatures.
bottle-conditioned: beer carbonated naturally in the bottle by priming.
dextrose (or corn sugar): a monosaccharide used commonly to prime bottle-conditions beers.
dried malt extract: malt extract in a dried powder form (often called DME). Becomes very sticky and will clump quickly when exposed to humidity. Care is needed when pouring into a hot brewpot to avoid the steam. Store unused DME in a tight sealed, cool & dry environment.
hops: the flowers or cones of the female hop plant used in brewing to impart flavor and bitterness. These can be used whole, or in the form of pellets.
Irish moss: a red seaweed added at the end of the boiling process to help with beer clarity.
lager: (n.) any beer produced by bottom fermentation. (v.) Aging beer at cold-storage temperatures.
liquid malt extract: malt extract in a liquid form (often called LME). Very vicious and sticky, often recommended that you heat the LME up before pouring in in order to decrease the viscosity.
original gravity (OG): this is the specific gravity of a wort before it goes through any fermentation. The measurement tells you the amount of solids that are in a wort in reference to that of pure water at a certain temperature (which is given the value of 1.000 SG).
primary fermentation: the first phase of fermentation where sugars are converted into ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide.
rack: to move beer from one container to another, typically from a primary to secondary fermenter in order to separate beer from the solids that fall out of solution during the initial fermentation period.
racking cane: a plastic tube with an arced end that is attached to a hose and used to siphon brew. The arced end stays above the solids when lowered to the bottom of a fermenter and helps to leave sediment behind.
secondary fermentation: the second, slower stage of fermentation that takes place after primary fermentation has forced solids out of solution and the brew is racked to a closed bin (the "secondary fermenter").
specific gravity (SG): a measurement that represents the density of a liquid at a specified temperature. Pure water is given a value of 1.000 SG at 39 ºC (4 ºC). This measurement is highly used in brewing in order to monitor various processes from boiling throughout fermentation.
terminal gravity (often call final gravity): a term used to define the specific gravity after a beer has fermented and aged appropriately. A synonym that is commonly used is final gravity or FG.
wort: the sweet solution created by boiling malt, hops and water. It is high in sugar and ferments when yeast is added.
yeast: A single-celled organism of the genus Saccharomyces. During fermentation, yeast convert sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide.