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Return to Extracts

If you’re a regular reader you know that I recently added a second brew assistant to my brewhouse.  With two sons now at home it becomes more difficult to find time to brew.   I have been thinking of ways to get in brewing sessions that are short and quick to slake my thirst for brewing whenever I have time.

I have been pondering the occasional dabble in extract brewing again.  I don’t plan to abandon my all-grain brewing setup as I love the process and the control.  But extract brewing would be a quick way to bang out some easier beers, experiment with ingredients and just stay active in the hobby when a 6-7 hour brew session with all-grain won’t cut it.

So this post is a call to all our extract brewing readers. What styles of beers really lend themselves to extract brewing?  I was thinking of putting together a simple Amber recipe to get myself started in the 2010 brewing season. I figure maybe a good dry Irish Stout and maybe a couple good English Brown ales, milds or other session style brews.

What is on your extract agenda these days?



Apple Cider First Tasting


Lager Clearing


  1. I am planning an Irish Red Ale for next month. I think that will be easy style to brew and I could make a fine beer using extracts.

  2. I’m a big fan of the Great Compromise. Partial mashing. I know you’ve posted about that before. All extract makes great beer that can be even better if 30-50% of the sugars come from grain. This of course adds 90 minutes (or so) to the brew process, but most of this time is waiting.

    Last night I did a partial mash light lager. While I was mashing, I did an all extract pilsner.

    From my experiences, stouts and pale ales are the best beer for extract. Assuming you use some steeping grains (roasted barley, crystal malt etc…). The heavier flavors and hopping cover up the ‘extract’ taste.

    Even though I just did a couple extract lagers, I think those styles are best left to all-grain. Unless you are like me and forced to do extracts.

  3. I agree with the heavier flavors helping mask some residual extract taste. We rocked out an Imperial Stout from extract malt that is still in my Top 5.

  4. Brett and Chemgeek:
    I never remember really having extract flavors in my beers in the past. I always felt that good yeast management and fermentation temps helped with that. Do either of you have a feel for the type of extract that works best. I eventually just went all DME, which has a better shelf life and less prone to staling than LME. Thoughts on that?

  5. I never had any extract flavors when I did extract beer, either. Always used LME, not always the freshest.

    Personally, I think “extract twang” is more myth than reality, and built up a history because of inferior products homebrewers used to have to use in the past and poor general brewing practice for brand new brewers.

  6. I think my first home brews a few years ago fall into that category of bad product found in cheap brewing kits + my own beginner’s ignorance. I started with LME in those brews … and, come to think of it, there might have been a little dust on the can before we opened it …

  7. +1 to what Aaron is saying. I also thing that most novice brewers using extracts are using poor yeast practices. This to me is probably the source of “extract twang”.

  8. John

    When my son was born last October, I started brewing extract/mini-mash batches, because they were quicker, and I could bang one out in about 3 hours. I’ve been exclusively all-grain for the last 3 years or so. I went back to the extract recipes I used when I first started brewing, and I was surprised and happy with how well they turned out (so were my friends!). Use good ingredients, fresh extract and use the same attention to detail that you would if you were doing all grain. It will be fine.

    I’ll probably go back to all-grain in the summer, but I’m glad I went back to extract for a little while, and wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.

  9. Hey Mike, you know that Amber that I’ve been trying to get you to make lends itself nicely to extract. So much so that It’s hard to tell the difference between the All grain version, and the extract. I made a quick extract of this, and threw it in the keg for a super bowl party, they said it was my best yet.
    In fact Dave has made this twice, and says it’s the best beer he’s ever made. C’mon Mike, make the Amber. That’s what you could call it relentless Amber, Ha ha

  10. chris

    Stout, certainly. Porter probably. American amber…..where can you go wrong?

  11. I went to all DME extract a few years ago. I buy my DME in bulk. 55 lb at a time. I am amazed at how fast I go through 55 pounds. I’ve never made a beer that I didn’t like. Except the one I accidentally kegged in my “root beer” keg.

  12. I have yet to hit up the all grain scene. I’m having a lot of fun doing the extracts and I’m actually not in a position to go all grain. I am hoping to move this fall and I don’t want to lug around more gear. Plus, my living space is cramped, no room in the garage.

    Regardless, I’ve found Porters, Stouts, and Pale Ales to be beers that have come out really well for me. Belgians, Wheats and overall “malty” beers don’t seem to turn out the way I’d like them to. I get the “twang” in them. I don’t think its my yeast practices, but then again I only use wYeast smack packs, which should have enough yeast in them. I think my problem lies in sustaining ferment temperature or hot side aeration in one instance.

    These are all great things to continue learning while I work on extracts before going all grain. Once I get all these things down flat, moving to all grain will be easier to focus on. Things such as mash PH and which sparging methods I’m going to use.

    Great post!

    Mike’s Brew Review

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