Many brewers eventually migrate towards all-grain brewing. Some sooner than others. All-grain brewing provides more control of the total process and in many cases can improve the quality and freshness of your beers. But what do you do if you have a couple really great extract beers that you still want to drink? You can keep brewing them as extract, but if you want to try converting extract recipes to all-grain there are some key points to consider.
1. First extra light extract is the best stuff to work with as an extract brewer. At its core the lightest extracts are typically just a single base malt, mashed in the 150-154 range, lightly boiled then turned into extract. For recipes where light extract was the base you can simply plug in your 2-row barley of choice as a base malt on a gravity 1:1 basis. Add whatever steeping grains were in your extract recipe to the mash and away you go. To determine the amount of grain you need to equal the amount of extract you used, you’ll need to learn to work with PPG. See our PPG post for help with this.
2. If you worked with colored extracts; Golden, Amber, Dark, etc., then your work is cut out for you. These extracts are a usually a proprietary blend of base malt and specialty grains. The darker the extract the darker and higher amount of specialty grains was used. You can attempt to replicate it but it will take some time and care paying attention to color values (SRM) and sensory input (visual, aroma and flavor). Expect to brew these recipes a couple times to hone in on what that special blend was in the colored extract. This is where brewing software can really help you out when figuring out SRM values.
3. Hops typically don’t change much as part of the conversion process. Many brewers will tell you that your utilization will go up some. 10% is a rough estimation. If you weren’t doing full boils as an extract brewer then you can expect a bigger change in the hop utilization, if not the leap isn’t that big of a deal. For your first few replication attempts stay focused on the malt. Then dial the hops up or down is subsequent batches.
4. Lastly is yeast. Whatever yeast management practices (and temp control) you were using before…stick with it. Anything that worked for you post wort production should stay the same. Extract or all-grain doesn’t change it.
Enjoy the video.
For those of you looking to do the opposite; find out how extract brewers can convert all grain hombrewing recipes to ones that use malt extract.