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Better Extract Brewing

Better Extract Brewing

  1.  Ingredients
    • Always choose the freshest ingredients, especially extract
    • Chew your malts and soak your hops in hot water to learn the their characters.
  2. Water
    • Charcoal Filter
      • Brita type Filter ($20)
      • Under-sink ($30)
      • Whole House ($60)
      • Reverse Osmosis ($150)
        • Greatest Flexibility w/ Minerals
    • Water Vendors
      • Long term no win.
      • How well maintained are their filters?
    • LA DWP
      • Uses Chloromine which does not boil off
      • Can use Potassium Metabisulfite (Campden Tablets) to clear it.
  3. Yeast
    • Starters
      • DME, Nutrient, Hops
      • ~3.2 oz (by weight) DME per Quart
    • Stir plates
      • Absolutely necessary? No. But you’ll double your yield.
    • Making Cultures from Bottles
      • Easy method
        • 2 bottles of target beer.
        • Decant most beer off yeast.
        • Swirl and pour yeast into a prepared starter
        • Might need to try multiple times before success. Smell and taste the starter wort.
      • Complicated method
        • Culture to plates or slants.
      • Other sources
        • Make friends with your local pro-brewer (BJ’s) and get slurries
        • Make friends with local homebrewers, re-pitch off of their batches
  4. Nutrient
    • Always Add for extra FAN (less important for All-Grain)
  5. Hops
    • Learn to adjust your hopping schedule based upon the Alpha Acid percentage of your available hops and don’t stick to the recorded amount on a recipe. Only in your later additions does an addition of 8% Cascade yield the same bitterness as a 6% hop.
  6. Oxygen
    • Venturi Tube
    • O2 Canister
  7. Full Wort Boiling
    • Lightens up the beer.
    • Allows for better hop extract
    • Softens the sometimes apparent “extract twang”
    • Absolutely requires a chiller.
  8. Chilling – Immersion / CFC
    • Immersion – Cleaning a snap, a little slow and the efficiency isn’t spectacular.
    • Counter Flow – Very Efficient, More Work to Keep Clean
      • Caustic – PBW, Caustic, etc.
      • Hot Water Rinse
      • Acid Rinse – Sani-Clean, Citric Acid, et. al.
  9. Sanitation with Sani-clean / Star-San or Iodophor
    • Much better than Bleach. Minimal contact time or chlorine problems.
  10. Cold Steeping Darker Grains
    • Better Control of Color Contribution.
    • Less Harsh Acid Flavor
    • Fair storage for later use
  11. Late Addition of Extract
    • Allows for a lighter color beer by avoid excessive caramelization.
    • Better Hop Extraction
    • Couple it with large yeast quantities to deal with minimal santiation issues.
  12. Knowing your numbers
    • See equations below. It is crucial to know how to adjust your numbers for different brews and hop levels, etc.
  13. Parti-Glying with Extract or Mash
    • By understand the numbers above you can squeeze two boils in at once and get two batches for a small investment of extra time.
    • See equations below
  14. Record Keeping
    • Notebook. Legal pad. Index cards. Anything to keep the notes around
      • Handy to track what you did differently.
      • Track how a beer changes.
      • When you give the beer to a judge or an experienced brewer, they can tailor their remarks to what you actually did.
    • ProMash is the Rolls of Computer Programs
      • Brewing Recipes calculates all the things you need.
      • Brewing Sessions track individual brew attempts.
    • Other computerized options include BeerTools Pro, StrangeBrew, BeerSmith, HBD Recipator, Handmade Excel Worksheets (Tom Wolf has a particularly handy sheet)
  15. Your Fellow Homebrewers
    • They may not always be right, but keep an open mind about what they’ve done.
    • Brew with them. No one remembers all the little things they do or the little gadget they made and it’s the perfect way to spot it. Plus it’s a good excuse to drink some beer with your friends.

Equations to know:

Gravity Units
Think of gravity points as a SG with out the 1. (e.g. 1.038 becomes 38 Gravity Units (GU). This denotes how much sugar should be given from one pound of sugar source in one gallon of water.

Sugar Yield from a Malt Quantity
Sugar Yield = (Weight of Malt X Maximum Malt GU X System Efficiency)


Every grain has a slightly different yield. Sugars and Malt Extracts have an efficiency of 100%. The amount of sugar yielded from a malt will differ from brewer’s system to system.



Typical Malt Yields


Malt/Sugar Yield (GU/lb) Typical Efficiency
Liquid Malt Extract 37-39 100%
Dry Malt Extract 45-47 100%
Corn Sugar 37 100%
Cane Sugar 46 100%
Honey 30-35 100%
Pale and Pils Malts 35-37 70%
Munich / Vienna / Biscuit 35-36 70%
Crystal Malts 33-35 70%
Chocolate/Black /Roast 25-30 70%
Wheat Malt 37-40 70%

As an example I want to know how much sugar I should get from a pound of Great Western Domestic 2-Row Pale Malt in one gallon on my system at 72% efficiency.
GU = (1 lb X 36 GU/lb x .72) = 25.92 GU
Or roughly 1.026 from one pound in one gallon.

Calculating Total Gravity

OG = (Malt1 Sugar Yield + Malt2 Sugar Yield + …. + MaltN Sugar Yield) / Total Volume

Let’s take a simple malt bill of 1lb of Crystal Malt (60L) and 6 pounds of LME in 5 gallons
GU(Crystal) = 1 X 34 X .70 = ~24
GU(LME) = 6 X 38 X 1.0 = 228
So.. OG = (GU(Crystal) + GU(LME)) / 5.0
OG = (24 + 228) / 5 = 50.4 or 1.050

Calculating IBU’s (Simple)

IBU = (Hop Weight (oz) X Utilization% X Alpha% X 7489) / Boil Volume

Boil Time Whole Hops Utilization% Pellet Utilization%
Dry Hop 0 0
< 10 mins 5 6
< 20 mins 12 15
< 30 mins 15 19
< 45 mins 19 24
< 60 mins 22 27
< 75 24 30

This formula doesn’t take into account a number of factors but will ball park you for those last minute adjustments to your recipe because the shop doesn’t have Cascade at 6%, but 8%.

Balancing your beer by the numbers
Ray Daniels in Designing Great Beers introduced the BU:GU ratio as a handy numerical indication of the hops vs. malt ratio of your brew.
Simply take your calculated IBU level (e.g. 60 IBU’s) and your calculated gravity units (1.050 or 50 GU) and you get a BU:GU of 60/50 or 1.2 a beer edged to the bitter side.

Good Resources:

  • Designing Great Beers – Ray Daniels
  • The Everything Homebrewing Book - Drew Beechum *whistles*
  • The AHA Style Guide Books
  • CloneBrews – Tess and Mark Szamatulski
  • Beer Captured - Tess and Mark Szamatulski
  • Zymurgy - The official magazine of the AHA
  • Brew Your Own – A more beginner oriented magazine.
  • The Maltose Falcons (But I might be biased!)
  • Really Your Local Homebrew Club
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