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Extract Kit Questions

I completed my first extract kit brew, Irish Red Ale, and everything went well. I do have a few questions that came up during the brew:

  • The instructions said “heat the water” to seep the grains. I brought the water to a light boil, cut the heat off, waited a monemnt or two and put the grains in to soak 20 mins. Is there an optimal temp to seep the grains?

  • The instructions instructed me to “boil” the extract and hops for 60 mins. What rate of boil is best boil rate, light boil simmer, medium boil, hard fast boil?

*I forgot to check the OG before I added the yeast, but did check it right after. The spec sheet said it be 1.044 but mine was 1.03. I believe the end volume was pretty close to 5 gals. I can’t see the yeast throwing it off that much. What could have caused that? What effect will it have on the finished product, will the ale be “lighter” than normal or the ABV lower or both?

*And finally, I tasted the finished wort and it tasted pretty “hoppy”, on my next kit if I wanted it less hoppy, would it be best to decrease the amount of hops supplied or reduce the boil times?

Thanking you in advance for any assistance.


The instructions that came with it are your friend, “Steep for 20
minutes or until water reaches 170°F”. I usually keep a nice rolling boil throughout the 60 minutes. I wouldn’t suggest reducing your boil times.


Thank you for your reply. I saw the “or until the water reaches 170”, so if water boils at 212, then a seep temp of somewhere between 170 to 212 is OK? Is that right? The instructions cautions against too low a seep temp rather than too high a seep temp. I’m a newbie and have read somewhere that seeping at too high a temp could extract tannins from the grain.

As far as the hops, you would recommend I stay with the recommended boil time but reduce the amount of hops used to decrease the hops favor.

Again, Thanks.


  1. Next time place your grains in the water while you are heating it. Take them out at 155* or 30 mins, which ever comes first. For example, if it takes only 15 mins to get the temp to 155*, cut the heat and wait. Don’t go over 170* as this can leach tannins. Now, I know you were over and it will probably be alright, but it COULD.

  2. Did you do a full wort boil or a partial with top off? If you topped off chances are you didn’t get a good mix with the wort and top off water. This is called stratification and is VERY common. I am guessing you topped off seeing how there was a .014 difference. That amount of difference would be very difficult with an extract kit.

  3. Don’t judge a beer by its wort. The finished beer will taste much different as the yeast and carbonation plays a huge roll in taste and body. Hops fade over time and it will likely be right at the appropriate hoppiness.

Mashing/steeping at too high of a temp. can definitely lead to a diminished conversion if starches, and result in a lower than anticipated OG. Next time, as others have said, if your just steeping, heat the water to 160 and then add your grains, cover and wait for 30 mins. I did this exact same thing on my first few extract recipes and hit my OG almost exactly every time.

There are other methods of achieving the same results, but this is pretty simple and effective.

Cheers and welcome to the hobby and the forum.
Either way, you’ll enjoy what you brewed, so relax

Don’t make any drastic changes to your process until you taste your beer after proper conditioning.
It may have the perfect amount of Hop flavor and the correct ABV.


…I saw the “or until the water reaches 170”, so if water boils at 212, then a seep temp of somewhere between 170 to 212 is OK? Is that right? [/quote]

No, no, no, if the instructions say until the water reaches 170, how do you say 170-212 is ok? if you hit 171F then it’s too high per the instruction. Sorry, if I sound like a dick, but really…

When I was doing extract, I added the specialty grains, in bag, to the pot when I turned on the flame. I kept the thermometer handy and routinely checked it as it heated. As it approached 20 minutes or 170F, I pulled the bag of specialty grains.

regarding the other question:
I find a medium boil is best to ensure you boil off all the DMS and don’t end up with too much loss due to boil off rate. Also, make sure the lid is off when you boil.

Regarding the OG, with extract, if you have 5 gallonsat the end you should be right at the expected OG. if not, them you probably left too much extract in the plastic jugs. i found that heating the plastic jugs in another pot of water, while the specialty grains are steeping, works very well for thinning out the extract and making it pour easily out of the jugs. also, I’d then add a cup or two of hot wort back to the jugs, swirl, and get every drop of extract possible out of the jugs and into the pot.

Yes, it is perfectly normal for the fresh wort to taste hoppy. It will mellow during the fermentation.

EDIT: with only 1 lb of specialty grain, poor extraction will not cause a 14 point drop in OG. i’d still bet the problem was extract left in the jugs, although, poor extraction could certainly contribute to the drop.


cheers, welcome, and good luck with the next batch.

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