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Retro Article - 1995 - Crew News

Liquid Pleasures?

These are excerpts of Jim Page’s AHA Conference Session, Brewing with Extracts.

Why brew with Extracts? The answer is simple.

1. It’s Fast.

2. It’s Easy.

3. It doesn’t take much equipment.

What is Malt Extract?

Malt Extract is produced by taking grain and mashing them at a high Saccrification Temperature (158-164’F!). Then, the wort is either evaporated with intense high temps. (Liquid Extract) or dehydrated (Dry Extract).

Liquid Extracts are evaporated wort, they are not boiled and are 99% 6-Row barley. LME is not heat pasteurized. It’s compacted to 79% Solid and 21% Water. This, in turn, is supposed to slow bacterial growth? LME is usually gives 75% extraction of true sugars. All liquid extracts should have an expiration date. Cans have better freshness than other packed LME. All non-canned LME’s should be kept under CO2 or in O2 free containers. It does go bad! All expired LME should be thrown away or turned in for trade.

Alexander’s of California is the only Extract Company in the WORLD, that produces a 100% 2-Row, base malt, extract. All others, either use 6-row or a combination of 6-Row & 2-Row with extra fillers; i.e. Corn Syrup, corn sugar or even cane sugar.

Dry Malt Extracts (DME) are produced by blasting the hot wort through a spray gun and it evaporates in a receiving, high heat, evaporator. This is then either scrapped off an sold in chunks or hammer-milled into dust. (Talk about Hot-side aeration!) the end product is 98% solid, but, only 50-60% fermentable.

Wait! This does not mean it is less fermentable than LME? Some companies who produce liquid, also produce dry, with same ratio of malt. Plus, LME is 79% solid at best and only 75% of that is fermentable! This equals about 60% total fermentability, which makes LME & DME almost equal in there fermenting capabilities! Process does change the fermentable, but only to a small extent.

DME in very easily staled and infected and should always be stored in original unopened package or stored in O2 barrier bags. Most have NO expiration dates, but are highly more supseptable to problems.

6 lbs. of DME equals a total gravity of 1.044, in 5 galls of water.

6 lbs. of LME equals a total gravity of 1.038, in 5 Galls of water.


Who makes malt Extracts?

Well, it’s interesting. There are numerous British, Scottish, Irish, American, etc. extracts. BUT, there’s only 2-3 extract companies in England, who are producing the plethora of different name brands. Ireland has one plant. Scotland has none. Australia has one. New Zealand has one. Switzerland has one. America is about the most diverse with 3+ plants. Go figure!


Sorry to say, but, most color is added by high kilned Munich malt or dyes. Yes! Dyes. Only Briess’s Amber extract is made with Crystal malts. Ever think your Porter or Stout tasted like a fruity Doppelbock? Now you know why!

Wheat Malt Extract. This has most people confused. Experts say, you can’t produce a Wheat Malt Extract, wheat will not convert well at high temps. or some bull shit like that. If anyone finds out, tell me! Anyway, there’s a question of where the true wheat flavor comes from; some say it’s artificial flavors. Others say, it’s a chemically enhanced product. Oh, we didn't get into the preservatives, for all you health nuts! Far to big of a subject for this scope of space!

What about all these HOPPED EXTRACTS, I keep seeing?

If the extract has bittering hops, they are the worst choice hops you can find and don’t taste to well, after being heated, evaporated, dehydrated, stored and then, reheated and boiled weeks later.

If the can states, Bittering and AROMA hopping. All hop aroma/flavor will be boiled out.

Most cans state, 10 min or NO boil, now you know why. If you don’t boil, you get a terrible beer; If you do boil, you guessed, you get a horrible beer!

Tips for the Extract Brewer? There simple, but very effective!

1. Always use Bitter/Flavor/Aroma hops

2. Always boil your wort.

3. Use best/freshest extracts available.

4. Use grains for a partial mash, the more the grain, the better the

taste/quality of beer. A 60% Grain & 40% Extract is considered

the best combination.

5. Use liquid yeast.

6. Don’t expect a prize winner with only extract brews.

Winners circle?

In 1986, 90% of all National Home Brew winners used some extract. In 1995, the percent is down to 5%. Reason; better quality grains, compared to substandard extracts!


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