The taste of extract brewing

So I’m drinking my caribou slobber that was from NB extract kit and it hit me, tastes really good but tastes artificial. Is this due to using extract malts or am I imagining the taste?

Artificial compared to what? Moose Drool, artificial sweeteners? If it tastes really good, shouldn’t be a problem.

Hard to put my taste buds on it but it just seems overly malty and a heavier body compared to any AG homebrew and to moose drool off the tap.

Depends on a lot of factors. You can easily get an overly malty taste and heavy body out of AG if you mash too hot also, so it’s not just an extract thing. There definitely is a distinct “extract” mouthfeel, but it’s not as obvious as you might think. IME, things like water quality, fermentation temp, and conditioning duration have a much greater impact on flavor and mouthfeel than simply extract vs AG. If you hone your technique and control these factors you can easily make award winning beer with extract.

Having said that, I have only ever done AG (with the exception of a couple Mr. Beer’s), but I have buddies that do extract. Sometimes my brews are better, sometimes their’s are better.

Well if you used Briess extract in the recipe, then its probably due to the extra high sodium that comes with the extract. Sodium does present that sort of flavor contribution. In a big beer, the sodium concentration can be quite high. Hopefully your tap water doesn’t also have a significant sodium content.

Why does Briess have extra sodium?

I do only partial mash and extract brewing due to not having the equipment or time as yet for AG. I’ve brewed a ton of these beers, and most of them have come out fantastic. The few that have tasted too malty or heavy were either my fault, or just a recipe that I didn’t really care for after brewing it up. I’ve brewed a lot of awesome, really crisp, light on the pallet ales using all extract.

More importantly, I’ve also found that if your beer is under-carbonated it can definitely contribute a more malty taste and much heavier feel. I usually carb up Caribou Slobber type beers slightly higher using an extra half ounce to an ounce of sugar in the bottling bucket. But that is just my personal taste and feel that some of the kits out there are undercarbed using only 4oz of sugar. Next time you brew that particular beer up, try it with an extra ounce of sugar. It can make a HUGE difference.

Over the years my experience has been that not adding all of the LME before your start your 60 minute boil, but saving half (or more, depending on the recipe) for the last 15 minutes, is a good first step to getting rid of some of the “twang.”

Another, often mentioned, tip you’ll hear is to pitch more yeast into happy wort. Yeast nutrients, a wort chiller, and an oxygen diffusion system have helped my extract beers immensely. As far as the volume of yeast, I’ve put a lot of thought into it, and rather than spend a good chunk of change on a yeast starter (which is just one more way to contaminate your final batch), I’ve found pitching an extra Wyeast smack pack each time is usually worth the money for all but the lowest gravity kits.

Just a few learning experiences I had… I’m sure other people have their own ways that work equally well.

Agree that there are entirely too many factors that will influence the overall taste profile.

OP, how many batches have you brewed? Most guys are under the impression that extract isn’t as good because they move over to AG after a few batches. Most guys simply don’t get good at extract brewing because they’ve already moved on.

I have brewed three extract batches before I moved to AG but that was a planned move. I still plan on using extract kits when there is something specifically I want to try but I just generally prefer AG.

What I found out from the advice of the people in this thread and other research is my temperature is too high with my primary fermentation. There are probably a dozen more factors but this one seems to be the biggest factor on the quality of my beer, both extract and AG, thus far.