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Old 08-10-2013, 06:54 AM   #1
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Default Advanced extract brewing

Advanced Extract Brewing “AEB”

I introduce my self as a extract brewer of about 3 years. My hope is to give extract brewers an outlet to move there skill forward without making the big jump to all grain. Small space brewers might also gain a little knowledge in what I'm writing. We don't have the time ,space or money to go into a all grain setup. Yes i said that.

From here forward i assume most brewers have a couple of brews under there belt. You got the gist of how to brew an extract beer and your RLHAHB is well settled. For a long time extract brewing was called a stepping stone to all grain. Today many AG brewers are revisiting extract brewing. Be it to fill the gap in a pipeline or the fact they can not devote a full off day to brewing.

Ingredients: Pro extract brewers are not using pre hopped kits in a can. nor are they using the commercial pre boxed kits found in most LHBS “Brewers Best” True Brew” I'm looking at you ! When we get our ingredients or kits. They are made at the time the order is filled and shipped to us. Not pre packaged and sitting in a warehouse until your LHBS makes the order. Then its sitting on there shelves for god knows how long. This is just a start to what i want to write, If i get enough response i will write further.


Malt extract: Its the base of our soon to be beer. I often find its one of the most over looked ingredients that we use. If a all grain brewers mash temps are off so is the beer. This relates to us as extract brewers. If the company producing the extract is inconsistent. Then our beer is going to be inconsistent. Our soon to be beers outcome is in the hands of the company making our malt extract. As well as the packaging and handling to our door.

The great thing we have on our side is rather large companies who's sole business is grain and malting. We have pro mashers in our pocket. Today we now have a large verity of base malts to chose from over what was out there 5-10 years ago.

Just like a loaf of bread from the store. Extract can and will go bad. Light, heat,age and oxygen will deteriorate extract very fast. How is your extract packaged ? In a can, in a jug or container ? Can you see light or air through the container holding the extract ? All grain brewers would never pre crush 100 lbs of base malt and then let it sit for a month or more.

Take great care that you are getting the freshest extract possible. Refrigeration will go a long way in making sure it stays fresh until brew day.

A different way of brewing extract beer.
One of the biggest improvements I've made to my brewing thats not really talked about a lot. Is using a ultra light extract as your base and use the steeping grains for the color and flavor. 90% of the beers i make today are done this way. Porters,stouts,ambers and pales. The reason behind this is that i could never get fermentation consistency between the same batches with flavored extracts. I don't blame that on the company producing the malt. I blame the handling in between.

Steeping grains.
Because i depend on steeping grains to give me the color and flavor. Make sure your grains have a good crush. If not use a mill or place them in a ziploc bag and use a rolling pin. There shouldn't be whole kernels in your steeping grains. Water measurements are a little lass than 1 gallon per pound for steeping. I bring the steeping water up 170, turn off the heat and steep for 30 minutes using a timer. I even go so far as to sparge out the steeping grains to get as much out of them as I can.

Doing this allows us to experiment a bit. The flavor and color out come of our beer is now in our hands.

About SG and FG readings:
One of the most important and often over looked parts of brewing is taking readings. Some of this could be because the brewer doesn’t understand completely of what and why. The “why” is because of consistency. Brewers know all to well that consistency is the name of the game to great beer. There are many parts of a brew day that needs to be consistent, taking gravity readings during the boil and after fermentation are important.

Before I go on I want to make sure everyone understands one important thing. “Not all sugar is fermentable” “All sugar both fermentable and non-fermentable is read”. Taking a gravity reading shows all sugars.

Refractometer and Hydrometer:
Most brewers only use or own a refractometer. The problem with using refractometer is taking a SG reading is done after the wort is chilled and in the fermenter. By then is too late to try and adjust the gravity of the wort . AEB brewing is being able to check and adjust your gravity on the fly. This is where a refractometer comes into play. Not only do you not lose a vile of wort when measuring but you can take a reading during the boil. I always bump my SG up by adding some DME to compensate for the fact that the LME sugars are not fully fermentable. Refractometers can be had for cheap if you look around. The one I use reads both Brix and Gravity. A good high quality hydrometer should also be part of you brew equipment. The one I use also have a thermometer built in to compensate the readings.





More to come........
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Old 08-10-2013, 09:57 AM   #2
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I have been brewing about a year and a half. I switched to all grain , but have switched back , at least now , to extract.
It seems that there are many skills , even with the simpler(shorter ) extract process , that can be refined. Neither i nor my friends are beer tasting experts. That being said , some of my most popular brews were extract.

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Old 08-10-2013, 04:04 PM   #3
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I have a few brews under my belt. I feel I have finally acquired a good method and equipment for it. Thus far all mini mash and one extract and the extract was vastly better than the mini mashes. ..tempts me to keep with extract. Interested in the thread...write on!

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Old 08-10-2013, 06:43 PM   #4
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Write on! I'm new to brewing, I've got 3 brews under my belt, and I have my next few brew days already planned. I've been reading all over the place and absorbing as much as I can, so I like to think I'm technically sound... I just gotta learn by experience now!

That said, I find a lot of extract talk is limited to the basics, as you already mentioned. The two brews I've tasted to date were good, but I'd love to learn more about extract brewing and how to get the most out of it, going beyond adding the extract later... Specially since I'm doing full volume boils anyway.

Originally I had planned to do a few batches of extract before moving to all grain... But I have a 2-year old and I've realised long brew days with them around, even when SWMBO is watching him, isn't a great idea. I'm happy with extract, and wanna learn as much about it as I can.

I look forward to reading more, and benefiting from an experienced extract brewer!

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Old 08-10-2013, 06:48 PM   #5
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I'll bite. I'm about to start my 5th brew and I'm learning new tips and tricks along the way with each one. I made the same dumb mistake with my first three due to a major oversight, but they were still good. I can't say that I'll ever make the jump to all grain. I have a great equipment base and feel like extract will always fit my budget, time allowance, and taste. I'm happy with the kits I've gotten from Northern Brewer and Austin Homebrew Supply, but eventually I would like to piece together my own recipes.

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Old 08-10-2013, 07:11 PM   #6
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love to hear you thoughts, tips, tricks and insight

write on

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Old 08-10-2013, 08:04 PM   #7
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Thanks guys, updated and feel free to ask questions, give ideas and discuss.

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Old 08-10-2013, 08:41 PM   #8
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Tell us about your method on sparging your grains.

My last batch was the first time I used the method of steeping in about 3/4 gallon of water per pound of grain. I did as you mention and got the water up to 170 and turned the heat off, but I only steeped them for 25 minutes. I would be interested in sparging them to get more out of them.

When we're trying to keep our water measurements specific to our boil size, do you predetermine how much water you're going to use to sparge with so you can calculate that as part of your total initial boil volume?

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Old 08-10-2013, 09:01 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mordhaus View Post
Tell us about your method on sparging your grains.

My last batch was the first time I used the method of steeping in about 3/4 gallon of water per pound of grain. I did as you mention and got the water up to 170 and turned the heat off, but I only steeped them for 25 minutes. I would be interested in sparging them to get more out of them.

When we're trying to keep our water measurements specific to our boil size, do you predetermine how much water you're going to use to sparge with so you can calculate that as part of your total initial boil volume?
Some would think that sparging the steeping grains is moot. We're only trying to get as much color and flavor out of them. not sugars. Again to me its all about going the extra mile on brew day. I bring up a small amount of water to 170 to sparge with. It's simply rinsing the grains.

My boil volumes change very little. In the end your still left with 5 gal if doing full boils. In our case Steep small and brew big. After we're done steeping and rinsing the grains. We then fill our boil pot to boil levels ie partial boils or full boils.
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Old 08-10-2013, 09:23 PM   #10
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Another thing I took notice of when brewing my PTE clone kit from Austin Homebrew Supply is that they listed a final volume of 5.25 gallons. Then when I was using Mr. Malty to calculate my starter, their program defaults to 5.25 gallons.

Any thoughts on this? Should we be targeting a final volume of 5 or 5.25 gallons as rule of thumb or leave it up to recipe specifics?

I will say after tasting the PTE clone the other day while taking final gravity, I will definitely do some things differently from here on out.

1. Put that Stirstarter to use and make starters for every beer, big or not.

2. Like mentioned above, steep small and brew big. Fermcap S allowed me to control a 6 gallon starting boil and the tons of hop additions for the PTE.

3. Late extract addition. The Pliny called for 8lbs of LME. I added only 3lbs at the beginning of the boil and added the rest at 10 minutes before the end of the boil.

There's more, but I want to see this thread build in to an excellent tool through discussion and don't want to clutter up each post with too much information.

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