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Old 05-12-2010, 01:30 AM   #1
gr8shandini
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Default Extract "color" vs specialty grains

Hey all,

I'm somewhat of a noob here (about 10 batches so far) and I've got a theory that I was wondering if you had any opinions on. I'm thinking that you should always use the lightest extract available to you (DME or "Pilsner" LME) and create the beer you want with the specialty grains.

My thinking goes as follows: If you're not set up for all-grain, you need the extract companies to handle mashing the base malt for you, but so far as I can tell, there's little difference between mashing and steeping the specialty grains. I'm also assuming that certain flavor compounds probably get killed off in the evaporation process that yields the final extract. So in my mind, it makes more sense to add those flavors using the steeping process and hopefully retain more of them during the boil.

I haven't tried anything darker than an Irish Red so far, but by extension, it would make sense to use the "Pilsner" LME even if you're going for a porter. Does that make sense, or am I just wasting money on extra grain and should switch to using the amber/dark products?



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Old 05-12-2010, 02:34 AM   #2
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Yes, I'd say that is true. Just like with AG brewing, you use a base malt for most of the beer (DME or LME in extract brewing) and then get the color and flavor of the specific beer from the specialty grains.

I don't think it has to do with flavor compounds being killed off in evaporation. It's just that it's very hard to nail down a flavor profile or recipe when you use "dark malt extract" because you have no idea what's in the dark extract. Crystal malt? Certainly. But how much, how dark? No telling.

I wouldn't necessarily use Pilsner LME, since I don't use pilsner malt for many of my beers. I'd just use "pale malt" or whatever the basic 2-row extract is. For DME, I always just used "light", and for LME, I just used the "light pale malt" or equivalent, unless I wanted the flavor of pilsner malt or Munich malt. If I needed Munich malt extract for a batch, that's what I'd order.



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Old 05-12-2010, 08:12 AM   #3
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Yes I agree, I've only brewed extract batches up until now but I have used a light malt extract in place of the normal grain you would use in AG (2 row, pilsner etc.) then added my specialty grains to that. Also worth lettting you know that I have made a jet black stout with only the pale/lager extract I can get at the LHBS so you dont need to worry about getting the beer dark enough. After all a bit of roasted barley or black patent will do the job. I still even find it difficult keeping my beers light enough with the light extract base occasionally but never had any issues with getting the colour. AG brews will be lighter than extract normally anyway so this just shows how the substitution of pale malt extract replaces 2 row etc. hope that helps

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Old 05-12-2010, 09:40 AM   #4
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+1 - use the lightest available, often called "extra light"

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Old 05-18-2010, 05:43 PM   #5
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I would agree with you in general, but I've made some really tasty beer wit Munich LME recently. If you are doing a darker beer anyways, i think you can get some good flavors from your extract.



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