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Extract as good as all grain?

I’m an all grain brewer, but with a five year old, dedicating that much time is getting difficult. I’ve actually brewed two beers(one right after the other the past two times to shave an hour or so off, but I was wondering if it you can brew beer just as tasty all extract every now and then…especially with what seems to be an increased quality to malt extracts. Anyway, strated as an extract brewer many moons ago and always seemed to ge that extract tanginess on the finish…not looking forwaard to going back there, especially with darker beers.Also any styles in particular less risky with extract? for example hoppy beers becasue they cover up any extract off flavors? thanks in advance for any feedback.

I think that you’re options are limited by extract (mash temp, etc) but not the quality. I’ve also found that I could get an extract boiled while mashing an AG so that’s another possibility you can consider.

I’ve never noticed the twang in NB’s extracts; maybe I’m just one of the lucky ones that doesn’t pick up on it.

Another thought: I’ve recently switched to 2.5-3 gallon batches so I can brew AG stovetop. If you don’t need the turkey frier, maybe you play some games with the kid WHILE brewing in the kitchen.

 Here's your cereal; (Bowl of oatmeal)
 And here's Daddy's cereal; (8 lbs of 2-row)

Extract brewing is an art just like anything else. With better quality extracts these days, it is easier to make great beer with extract than it used to be.

However, I will also argue that it is actually easier for an all-grain brewer to make an awesome beer than it is for an extract brewer to make an awesome beer. All-grain simply tastes better in a lot of cases, right off the bat and without even really trying, compared to an extract brewer who needs to spend a little extra effort to master the art. With the right specialty grains and experience, extract brewing can get very very good indeed. But I think it really does take experience, in addition to fresh ingredients, etc.

For me, I’ve got 3 kids too, but it’s still just easier for me to make smaller batches (1.7 gallons currently), and spend the 3.5 hours to make it the way I know I’m going to like it. Stovetop, in the house, kids running around. It’s all good.

Yes, some styles are easier with extract than others. Generally, any pale yellow beers don’t taste right at all with extract unless you throw a ton of hops in there like you said. Red, brown, and black beers can taste really quite good with extract if you use a lot of specialty grains.

I think it also makes a big difference using the dry malt extracts, as opposed to liquid extracts that stale extremely quickly. DME lasts a long time. LME seems to last for just a couple days before it goes twangy. I don’t know where you can source LME that is THAT fresh unless you have friends in high places.

[quote=“dmtaylo2”]Extract brewing is an art just like anything else. With better quality extracts these days, it is easier to make great beer with extract than it used to be.

However, I will also argue that it is actually easier for an all-grain brewer to make an awesome beer than it is for an extract brewer to make an awesome beer. All-grain simply tastes better in a lot of cases, right off the bat and without even really trying, compared to an extract brewer who needs to spend a little extra effort to master the art. With the right specialty grains and experience, extract brewing can get very very good indeed. But I think it really does take experience, in addition to fresh ingredients, etc.

For me, I’ve got 3 kids too, but it’s still just easier for me to make smaller batches (1.7 gallons currently), and spend the 3.5 hours to make it the way I know I’m going to like it. Stovetop, in the house, kids running around. It’s all good.

Yes, some styles are easier with extract than others. Generally, any pale yellow beers don’t taste right at all with extract unless you throw a ton of hops in there like you said. Red, brown, and black beers can taste really quite good with extract if you use a lot of specialty grains.

I think it also makes a big difference using the dry malt extracts, as opposed to liquid extracts that stale extremely quickly. DME lasts a long time. LME seems to last for just a couple days before it goes twangy. I don’t know where you can source LME that is THAT fresh unless you have friends in high places.[/quote]

Did you really mean to say, “LME seems to last for just a couple days”? If that were true, there would never be any award winning extract brews that have been entered in competitions.

Yes, that is what I meant. I’ve heard from commercial brewers who use extract that they find they must use any liquid extract very quickly, as soon as received from the manufacturer, in order to avoid the dreaded extract twang. I’ve experienced the same phenomenon at home many times so I believe they’re right.

It’s possible to cover up the twang somewhat with other strong flavors such as dark roasted malts, hops, fruit, spices, etc. This becomes more and more difficult with age, especially with liquid extracts. DME does not show its age as much; it is more shelf stable and can make good beer for a longer time. I would imagine that the majority of extract beers that are winning awards in competitions are using DME, and little if any LME or if they do it’s real fresh. That’s just a guess, but an educated guess.

I’m enjoying an extract French saison at the moment. The only twang is the effervescent pepper and spice notes.

I basically agree with Dave on this: you can make great beer from extract if you use techniques specific for it. Many beer recipes are designed for AG, and then are simply converted for use with extract. That doesn’t always work out so well. For many beers, you want them to end up drier than extract will typically yield, so you should substitute some simple sugar for a portion of the extract to make up for that. And if you want your beer to be very light in color, you’ll need to do a full volume boil instead of the concentrated boils that are typically used with extract.

You also want to just use light colored extract and steep with specialty grains to add colors and flavors. Dark extracts provide much less control.

Back when I was brewing with extract, I never got that “twang” that everyone seems to be so worried about. And I was using cans of malt that was rarely if ever very fresh. I suspect that as liquid extract ages it will make less delicious beer, but I very much doubt most people could tell the difference between newly canned extract or six month old stuff.

Overall, I think that you can get extract to make many styles that will come out just as good as AG. Light lagers, or beers that rely upon strange base malts are the main exceptions.

I’ve got newborn twins, so I was in the same boat recently. I asked for some advice on shortening my all grain brew day here a month or two ago. I’ve made good extract brews before, but never great. With the advice I got, I’ve managed to cut my brew time down almost to what it used to take to do an extract. Mash overnight and batch sparge with water you measured out the night before.

In the Sept/Oct issue of BYO I had a piece published in the Last Call column about simple brewing and the number of gold medals won by beers with simple recipes (one was a SmaSh). In my digging through the results of the last five years (2009-2013) of the national home brew competition I only found one that used extracts as the base malt.
You can certainly brew some good beer with extracts, but I think to hit the really high levels of great beer all-grain is the way to go.

Steve… my man… great article. Are all those recipes available online someplace, or have you got connections?

KISSOFF! :cheers:

[quote=“Rookie L A”]In the Sept/Oct issue of BYO I had a piece published in the Last Call column about simple brewing and the number of gold medals won by beers with simple recipes (one was a SmaSh). In my digging through the results of the last five years (2009-2013) of the national home brew competition I only found one that used extracts as the base malt.
You can certainly brew some good beer with extracts, but I think to hit the really high levels of great beer all-grain is the way to go.[/quote]

How many all extract beers were entered?

[quote=“Rookie L A”]In the Sept/Oct issue of BYO I had a piece published in the Last Call column about simple brewing and the number of gold medals won by beers with simple recipes (one was a SmaSh). In my digging through the results of the last five years (2009-2013) of the national home brew competition I only found one that used extracts as the base malt.
You can certainly brew some good beer with extracts, but I think to hit the really high levels of great beer all-grain is the way to go.[/quote]
My guess is that most brewers progress to AG before they implement good temperature control during fermentation, and it is the sparsely of extract brewers who practice good temperature control is the main reason you don’t see more extract gold metal winners. Don’t get me wrong, I brew AG almost exclusively, and while there are quite a few beers that you can only brew AG, I can’t think of an example that can only be brewed extract. But for a simple beer that does work well from extract, they can be very good, and I would say just as good as AG.

I have brewed some great beers with extract and won the occasional award. I’ve even had home-brew clubs congratulate me for going all grain, followed by me telling them that it was yet another extract kit. I’m quite satisfied with the extract Northern Brewer kits I’ve been using and will continue to use them. I unfortunately don’t see my free time increasing until I retire and kids are out of the house. I’m 34 and have a toddler. :shock:

I’d agree that there’s an obvious bias since most guys switch to all grain before they “master” extract brewing.

[quote=“s2y”]I have brewed some great beers with extract and won the occasional award. I’ve even had home-brew clubs congratulate me for going all grain, followed by me telling them that it was yet another extract kit. I’m quite satisfied with the extract Northern Brewer kits I’ve been using and will continue to use them. I unfortunately don’t see my free time increasing until I retire and kids are out of the house. I’m 34 and have a toddler. :shock:

I’d agree that there’s an obvious bias since most guys switch to all grain before they “master” extract brewing.[/quote]

Rookie la must have missed your awards. I wonder if he missed any others.

[quote=“flars”]
Rookie la must have missed your awards. I wonder if he missed any others.[/quote]

I don’t compete at the national level. I don’t have nearly the amount of time that would be needed to get that kind of experience. My equipment would also need to be a hair better.

I have been a homebrewer for almost 14 years now and have 2 kids. Sold most of my homebrewing equipment off when my teenager became ever more interested in drinking beer and plus the health concerns of drinking too much beer. Anyway, I’ve done almost every type of brewing, extract, AG, rims, herms single infusion and biab. I have to say, my favorite kind of brewing is biab or extract. I think with care and good practices excellent extract beers can be made. shameless plug ingredient kits sold here are top notch. I really don’t think you can go wrong with any of the kits here. Not to mention extract brewing really isn’t that much more expensive, unless of course you buy grain and hops in bulk.

The important thing with this hobby is to have fun!

Cheers!

borny

Agreed on the price and quality of NB extract kits. I’m about to place an order soon. Probably another barley wine (my 2 year NB is spectactular), The Number 8, and saison noelle.

I’m an all-grain brewer 680+ batches but I did brew about 47 extract batches when I first started. Recently, I brewed the free 2nd Crack Peace Coffee Stout as an extract because it was free from our host. Most people who have tried it say its good but not close to my other beers that they have become accustomed to drinking. I like the flexibility to tweak all-grain brews.

I have the 2nd crack stout kit as well. I was hoping to brew it last weekend, but didn’t get around to it. I will most likely brew it this weekend. I agree that there might be a certain amount of a “homebrew” flavor, that you don’ t get with all grain beers, but I don’t necessarily think it is unappealing or distracting from the overall enjoyment of the beer or the brewing process.

Some key things to help me make extract beers taste the best. I use distilled water, boil only 1/2 the malt extract for 60 mins and the remainder for the last 10. Plus I boil as much liquid as I can to a decent boil. I don’t worry about a roaring boil, because I feel it’s largely unnecessary, especially with extract beers.

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