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Old 05-11-2013, 12:25 AM   #1
Thunder_Chicken
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Default Drying Out Extract Beers by Replacing Extracts with Simple Sugars

I'm just sampled my first batch of the extract Centennial Blonde recipe. Not bad, but it tasted rather malty. The extract version had a similar OG as the all grain recipe, but the FG was significantly higher (1.012 vs 1.008 for the AG version). In a bigger beer these points would probably not be noticed but they are definitely adding more malt to the flavor for this small beer.

I've used the Brewer's Friend Beer Recipe Calculator to investigate recipes in the past. I entered the original extract recipe for Centennial Blonde, then changed out a portion of the extract for table sugar with the idea to match the OG but make the wort more fermentable so as to also match the FG of the all grain recipe. However, this calculator appears to simply run all fermentables through an average attenuation, so if the OG doesn't change then the FG won't either.

From my experience ale yeasts like Nottingham have an average attenuation of 77% quoted for average beer worts, but they'll take cider musts (nearly all simple sugars) down to 1.000 for 100% attenuation.

Is is wrong or too simplistic to apply an attenuation of ~77% for most extracts, yet assuming 100% for simpler sugars? I have a spreadsheet where I do this for the Centennial recipe and I can match both the OG and FG of the all grain recipe by doing this, but I haven't brewed it yet. The original recipe used 5 lbs of DME. I've removed 1 lb of DME from that recipe and substituted 0.75 lbs of table sugar.

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Old 05-11-2013, 12:32 AM   #2
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Well, I wouldn't say that 1.012 is "significantly higher" than 1.008- that's a difference of .004 and I would say often imperceptible.

If an extract beer tastes sweeter than the AG counterpart, I would first suggest that the wort had a partial boil and so the IBUs were diluted by topping up. Maybe the beer isn't underattenuated, but instead underbittered.

Subbing corn sugar will definitely thin the body of the beer, if it's too "thick" but won't enhance the bittering.

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Old 05-11-2013, 12:55 AM   #3
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Well, I wouldn't say that 1.012 is "significantly higher" than 1.008- that's a difference of .004 and I would say often imperceptible.

If an extract beer tastes sweeter than the AG counterpart, I would first suggest that the wort had a partial boil and so the IBUs were diluted by topping up. Maybe the beer isn't underattenuated, but instead underbittered.

Subbing corn sugar will definitely thin the body of the beer, if it's too "thick" but won't enhance the bittering.
It was a partial boil. I steeped 1 lb of carapils, and then boiled the hops in that thin wort. I calculated the IBUs using the gravity of this thin steeped wort and calculated utilization based on the AA% of my hops, and then scaled them for the dilution. I think I got that part right. There are only 21 IBUs floating around, so the malt is noticable.

Even if I got the IBUs wrong, the problem is matching both the OG and FG of the all grain recipe using extract. My OG was within 1 pt of the original (1.039), but I was 4 points off at FG, suggesting an attenuation problem. I used Nottingham and had a nice ferment in the low 60s for two weeks, then I warmed it up to higher 60s for another week. It was definitely done and didn't seem stuck. Bottle primed and carbed up nicely. Only thing I can think of is that the fermentable fraction of the extract is too low.
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Old 05-11-2013, 01:18 AM   #4
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It was a partial boil. I steeped 1 lb of carapils, and then boiled the hops in that thin wort. I calculated the IBUs using the gravity of this thin steeped wort and calculated utilization based on the AA% of my hops, and then scaled them for the dilution. I think I got that part right. There are only 21 IBUs floating around, so the malt is noticable.

Even if I got the IBUs wrong, the problem is matching both the OG and FG of the all grain recipe using extract. My OG was within 1 pt of the original (1.039), but I was 4 points off at FG, suggesting an attenuation problem. I used Nottingham and had a nice ferment in the low 60s for two weeks, then I warmed it up to higher 60s for another week. It was definitely done and didn't seem stuck. Bottle primed and carbed up nicely. Only thing I can think of is that the fermentable fraction of the extract is too low.
What I'm saying is that .004 is a very small amount of difference, and within the margin of error. I am a pretty good beer judge, but I doubt I could taste a .004 difference. If you can, then you should definately do what you need to do to change it up.

Usually, a beer that finishes sweet isn't underattenuated- it's usually underbittered. A partial boil would explain it, due to the dilution. I know you said you scaled them for the dilution, so maybe I'm out to lunch here. But if you had a wort of 2.5 gallons with 42 IBUs and diluted it with 2.5 gallons of water it might calculate to 21 IBUs- but I would wonder if you really did had 42 IBUs (as an example) in the 2.5 gallons.

I don't know if the beer is underattenuated or underbittered, of course, so please just take what I say with a grain of salt.
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Old 05-11-2013, 01:44 AM   #5
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What I'm saying is that .004 is a very small amount of difference, and within the margin of error. I am a pretty good beer judge, but I doubt I could taste a .004 difference. If you can, then you should definately do what you need to do to change it up.
It's not a malt bomb by any stretch - it's just noticable as the beer is otherwise pretty small.

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Usually, a beer that finishes sweet isn't underattenuated- it's usually underbittered. A partial boil would explain it, due to the dilution. I know you said you scaled them for the dilution, so maybe I'm out to lunch here. But if you had a wort of 2.5 gallons with 42 IBUs and diluted it with 2.5 gallons of water it might calculate to 21 IBUs- but I would wonder if you really did had 42 IBUs (as an example) in the 2.5 gallons.
That's true. I forget the formula but the IBU calculation is just an empirical curve fit if I recall, so who knows?

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I don't know if the beer is underattenuated or underbittered, of course, so please just take what I say with a grain of salt.
Neither do I. No worries It could be both - I might be tasting a pinch of extra malt coupled with low IBUs for whatever reason. I also suspect that my sensitivity to sweet/malt is bit higher than that of most of other people. My wife and friends think this is crisp tasting, but I really taste malt. I get the nice hops first, and then I get a wave of maltiness afterward. Getting a beer dry enough for my tastes with extract recipes has been tough - my first swipe at the recipe always tastes a bit too malty, even if it is brewed to the plan.

I think the thing to do is try to tighten up the gravity as best I can both at OG and FG. At that point if things are still unbalanced than I can start tweaking the hop schedule. I'm wondering if I shouldn't deliberately over-hop just a bit as that will age out where maltiness won't. Anyway, I'll tweak one thing at a time and see how that goes.
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Old 05-16-2013, 06:29 PM   #6
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I've used table sugar to dry out beers and add points with great success for a number of extract brews. I've found the key is to not use too much of it and to be sure to control your temperatures (which you should be doing anyways). I just cracked open an extract IPA (all Centennial hopped) that I used 7lbs light DME and a 1/2lb table sugar, late addition. US-05, fermented at 62, went from 1.064 to 1.012 in less than a week.

In my experience, either too much simple sugars or fermenting them too hot leads to a weird cidery taste. I used more than usual in a tripel and fermented it too warm from the get-go (like 72-74) and I'm not entirely pleased with it. It's not undrinkable my any means, but I should have started it colder.

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Old 05-17-2013, 01:44 AM   #7
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I've heard the same about adding too much sugar. I want to get a good FG measurement from my last batch before I tweak the sugars.

My first batch I did inside the house and we did get a couple warm days during the first few days of the ferment, nothing crazy but the fermenter probably broke 70F for a few days. My last batch I put in my equipment room which has been holding between 59-62F and left it there for 3 weeks. It was down to 1.012 after 4 days, and it has had a couple more weeks to chew through another few points (hopefully). Maybe a nicer ferment will help and I don't need to tweak the recipe at all?

I'm planning to bottle my last batch next week while I am boiling my next batch to throw on the current yeast cake. I'll check the gravity of the last batch before I do my late additions so I can adjust the DME/sugar points if I have to. Going to be a busy day!

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