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Old 01-25-2012, 02:40 AM   #1
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Default Homemade LME is it possible?

Is the making of LME something that's beyond the capability of a typical home brewer? I'm not really planning to ramp up a shop for something like this, as I've gone to all grain quite some time ago.

That being said, on occasion my OG has fallen short of expectations, and it might be nice to have a pound or so of LME on hand in the fridge to correct my incompetence or expectations. I'm a cheap-a$$ and don't like the retail prices of LME or the shipping toll. Just curious.

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Old 01-25-2012, 04:13 AM   #2
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Why not just keep DME on hand? I doubt you could make LME for less without scorching it. Then there is the problem of storing it.
I would guess LME is "boiled" under vacuum, which lowers the boiling point reducing caramelization and scorching.

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Old 01-25-2012, 04:19 AM   #3
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I'd guess for the normal person it would be a lot harder to make LME than buy it (unless you have lots of free time on your hand).

I mean, think about it -- you have to make wort, PLUS put it in some kind of contraption to get it to condense in a vacuum. Sounds cool for a science project, but I definitely would not personally undertake it, even though I'd be all for cheaper LME.

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Old 01-25-2012, 04:19 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by pelipen View Post
Why not just keep DME on hand? I doubt you could make LME for less without scorching it. Then there is the problem of storing it.
I would guess LME is "boiled" under vacuum, which lowers the boiling point reducing caramelization and scorching.
I dunno. When I made my wee heavy, I finished my sparge and then boiled for 20 minutes, then racked it immediately to a couple of corny kegs and threw them in the kegerator. They stayed there for another 2-3 weeks before I was able to pull them out and actually finish that batch.


So, long term storage? Maybe, maybe not. But I think it is perfectly conceivable to make a high gravity wort (functionally equivalent to LME) that you can store for a while and use later on.
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Old 01-25-2012, 09:59 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pelipen View Post
I doubt you could make LME for less without scorching it. Then there is the problem of storing it.
I would guess LME is "boiled" under vacuum, which lowers the boiling point reducing caramelization and scorching.
LME is indeed "boiled" under vacuum, in a steam evaporator.
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Old 01-25-2012, 10:11 AM   #6
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LME? Not possible without more equipment than you wanna buy.

High gravity, pressure canned wort? Definitely possible. Make a huge beer (~1.12), pressure can the wort.

Way easier to keep DME on hand though. DME would be way more neutral and consistent, never mind storage space, etc. Big beers aren't the most efficient monsters, so you wouldn't save any money...

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Old 01-25-2012, 03:39 PM   #7
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What I would do if it were me would be to make 20 gallons of all-grain wort using a base malt such as marris otter or golden promise at a gravity of 1.090. Then, split into 2 seperate kettles (10 gallons each), boil each kettle down to 2.5 gallons using a gentle boil (as not to scorch or carmelize as much) so you're left with 5 gallons total at a gravity of 1.360. Pressure can into 20 quart size mason jars, and save for later use. It will be a days worth of work to boil down that much wort, and I'd have to run some more calculations on the cost of doing that vs the cost of buying LME, but it'd be a fun experiment. Heck, I might do that now that I've thought of it.

After a quick calc, this would take ~73.5lbs of grain, at my prices for Golden Promise, this would be $92 worth of grain. That would break down to $4.60/qt of the high gravity wort. Wort at this gravity would weigh 2.8 lbs per quart. If added to 3 more quarts of water to make a gallon, you'd have a gallon of wort at a gravity of 1.090 ( [0.25*360 GU's] + [0.75*0 GU's] = 90 GU's in 1 gallon). So, the extract potential for one lb of the wort is 90/2.8 or 1.032 in 1 gallon...not sure where I'm going with this...but, for ease of understanding this, lets take making an equivalent beer from the high gravity wort and LME..and DME for fun.

For ease of calulation, lets say 5 gallons of 1.090 wort.

*High Gravity Wort

(14lbs wort / 2.8lbs/qt) * $4.60/qt = $23.00

*LME

You need just shy of 12lbs of LME to make 5 gallons of 1.090 wort

at a cost of $14.95 for 3.3lbs from my LHBS, that's ($14.95/3.3 lbs) * 12lbs = $54.36.

*DME

In this example, you need a scosche over 10 lbs to make 5 gallons of 1.090 wort

at a cost of $12.95 for 3 lbs from my LHBS, that's ($12.95/3 lbs) * 10 lbs = $43.17.


Someone check that, my brain is fried, even for an engineer.

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Old 01-25-2012, 05:51 PM   #8
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"Someone check that, my brain is fried, even for an engineer."

Thanks for doing the legwork on the proposition. Being a non-engineer, I'll probably need some time to digest your work, probably along with a home brew or three later in the day. I may take the concept a little more seriously, it just occurred to me last night when I was mini-mashing about 1.5# of 2-row in a couple of quart of mash/sparge liquids, then boiling it down to under a quart to add to a brew that came up a bit short on the OG. By time it go boiled down it was taking on some of the viscosity characteristics of LME, that's when the light bulb came on — a very dim bulb BTW.

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Old 01-25-2012, 06:49 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PintoBean View Post
What I would do if it were me would be to make 20 gallons of all-grain wort using a base malt such as marris otter or golden promise at a gravity of 1.090. Then, split into 2 seperate kettles (10 gallons each), boil each kettle down to 2.5 gallons using a gentle boil (as not to scorch or carmelize as much) so you're left with 5 gallons total at a gravity of 1.360. Pressure can into 20 quart size mason jars, and save for later use. It will be a days worth of work to boil down that much wort, and I'd have to run some more calculations on the cost of doing that vs the cost of buying LME, but it'd be a fun experiment. Heck, I might do that now that I've thought of it.

After a quick calc, this would take ~73.5lbs of grain, at my prices for Golden Promise, this would be $92 worth of grain. That would break down to $4.60/qt of the high gravity wort. Wort at this gravity would weigh 2.8 lbs per quart. If added to 3 more quarts of water to make a gallon, you'd have a gallon of wort at a gravity of 1.090 ( [0.25*360 GU's] + [0.75*0 GU's] = 90 GU's in 1 gallon). So, the extract potential for one lb of the wort is 90/2.8 or 1.032 in 1 gallon...not sure where I'm going with this...but, for ease of understanding this, lets take making an equivalent beer from the high gravity wort and LME..and DME for fun.

For ease of calulation, lets say 5 gallons of 1.090 wort.

*High Gravity Wort

(14lbs wort / 2.8lbs/qt) * $4.60/qt = $23.00

*LME

You need just shy of 12lbs of LME to make 5 gallons of 1.090 wort

at a cost of $14.95 for 3.3lbs from my LHBS, that's ($14.95/3.3 lbs) * 12lbs = $54.36.

*DME

In this example, you need a scosche over 10 lbs to make 5 gallons of 1.090 wort

at a cost of $12.95 for 3 lbs from my LHBS, that's ($12.95/3 lbs) * 10 lbs = $43.17.


Someone check that, my brain is fried, even for an engineer.
I am not sure if your calculations are correct, but one cost you are not considering in your homemade process is the cost of sitting there all day boiling the wort down. If you are using propane, that is going to cost a bit. My boil off rate is about 1 gallon per hour during a brewday. If I use that rate, we are looking at 15 hours of continuous propane use; probably half a tank or possibly even more.

You have clearly shown that AG brewing is cheaper than extract brewing, but we already knew that.
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Old 01-25-2012, 07:07 PM   #10
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I am not sure if your calculations are correct, but one cost you are not considering in your homemade process is the cost of sitting there all day boiling the wort down. If you are using propane, that is going to cost a bit. My boil off rate is about 1 gallon per hour during a brewday. If I use that rate, we are looking at 15 hours of continuous propane use; probably half a tank or possibly even more.

You have clearly shown that AG brewing is cheaper than extract brewing, but we already knew that.
I agree, it would be a lot of propane, and I didn't count that in because I have no real way of quantifying it. Splitting it into two 10 gallon batches would shorten the boil down time, but not propane useage as you would need two burners going. Anyway, yeah, it's really up to whether you want to spend your time doing this, or buy it. Some folks like the DIY aspect of stuff like this, some consider it a waste of time. FWIW, even using a whole tank of propane @ $17 a tank is still cheaper.
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