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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Extract Brewing > "Only use light malt extract"
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Old 09-15-2010, 03:43 PM   #11
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A less-dense wort will also promote better hop utilization. Harder to extract alpha acids in a denser wort.
I've actually heard some convincing arguments against the wort-boil-concentration=hop-utilization correlation. If I recall correctly (which I might not be ), John Palmer has changed his stance on that issue, as well. I personally did not notice a perceptible difference in bitterness moving from concentrated to full wort boils.
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Old 09-15-2010, 09:57 PM   #12
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I was browsing for recipes and found this opinion on a message board. The reasoning was that light malt extract can only be made from one combination of grains in contrast to amber, dark or any other malt extract which can be made from multiple combinations of grains which means the extract might be different from different companies or even different lots from the same company.

Does this make sense? What is everyone's opinion on this?
I concur with the "Use the lightest extract available" mantra, for the reasons cited above, primarily control over final color and flavor.

To answer some of your other concerns/questions:

  • "Light" extracts are generally made with one or two grains. Briess, for example, mixes Pils and Carapils malt for their Pilsner extract, and 2-row and Carapils for the Golden Light. Briess Organic extract is 100% Briess Organic 2-row. Alexander's Pale is 100% "2-row". Muntons does not release ingredients information, but I've heard through the industry grapevine that the Extra-Light Muntons uses a proportion of brewing sugar.
  • Briess Munich extract is 50/50% 2-row/Munich malt.
  • "Amber" and darker extracts use proportions of Crystal/Caramel, Munich, Black, and other grains/products to arrive at a proprietary blend.
  • Different companies do indeed produce different extracts. Experiments have been done comparing Briess Amber against Muntons Amber, for example. I find I prefer Briess Amber, as Muntons tends to ferment quite dry (leading me to suspect non-malt adjuncts in their extracts). In fact, I've brewed surprisingly good beer from just Briess Amber or Dark extract, hops and yeast. Is it phenomenal? Nope. But it's better than no beer at all!
Hope this helps!

Cheers,

Bob
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Old 09-15-2010, 11:27 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Butcher View Post
I was browsing for recipes and found this opinion on a message board. The reasoning was that light malt extract can only be made from one combination of grains in contrast to amber, dark or any other malt extract which can be made from multiple combinations of grains which means the extract might be different from different companies or even different lots from the same company.
Does this make sense? What is everyone's opinion on this?
It doesn't make sense, since you can make a light extract with many
brands and qualities of light grains, including the North American type,
the German type, the English type etc.

Some people want to make soup with a soup mix. But you can't
control the exact flavor unless you use your own garlic, celery
etc in the amounts you want. Making a porter with dark extract
will give you a porter, but it won't be the exact porter you want.

Ray
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Old 09-15-2010, 11:52 PM   #14
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Making a porter with dark extract
will give you a porter, but it won't be the exact porter you want.
...unless it's the exact porter you want.

Non-light extracts are ingredients just like any other. Once you figure out what it'll do in your beer, you know enough to use it. Thus, there's nothing at all wrong with using them.

Cheers,

Bob
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Old 09-16-2010, 04:26 PM   #15
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Non-light extracts are ingredients just like any other. Once you figure out what it'll do in your beer, you know enough to use it. Thus, there's nothing at all wrong with using them.
I don't think the argument is whether or not any extracts beside pilsen or light are ingredients worth using or not. It seemed the intent of the question was wondering why some (I don't feel comfortable saying most) extract brewers use only pilsen or light extracts in formulating their recipes. I doubt anyone would argue whether or not you could make a good beer with amber or dark extracts. Of course you can. It's more of a matter of control.

While it is true that any pilsen or light extract you buy can be made of a combination of either different strains of the same type of base malt or base malts in addition to some combination of other malts (dextrine malt, caramels, viennas, munichs, etc.), the intent of using light extract is to mimic as closely as possible the recipe formulation that all-grain and pro brewers use - a large percentage of a base malt (or combination of base malts) and, most of the time, a small percentage combination of specialty malts to control the malt character, color, body, head retention, etc. for the style of the beer being crafted.

I would never discourage someone from building an extract recipe around a darker extract. I would, however, encourage them to think about whether or not they are interested in controlling the aforementioned factors in their brewing process. I am an unapologetic micro-manager in my brewery. I have the feeling quite a few others here are the same.
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Old 09-16-2010, 07:47 PM   #16
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For the most part I stick to the "Light Extract Only" rule. However I do make exceptions. For weizens I'll obviously use the Wheat extracts. Also I occasionally use Munich LME mainly because it's just a 50/50 blend of Munich and 2-Row. I don't like using an extract that has specialty malts in it. I'd rather add them myself.

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Old 09-16-2010, 07:49 PM   #17
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I don't think the argument is whether or not any extracts beside pilsen or light are ingredients worth using or not. It seemed the intent of the question was wondering why some (I don't feel comfortable saying most) extract brewers use only pilsen or light extracts in formulating their recipes. I doubt anyone would argue whether or not you could make a good beer with amber or dark extracts. Of course you can. It's more of a matter of control.

While it is true that any pilsen or light extract you buy can be made of a combination of either different strains of the same type of base malt or base malts in addition to some combination of other malts (dextrine malt, caramels, viennas, munichs, etc.), the intent of using light extract is to mimic as closely as possible the recipe formulation that all-grain and pro brewers use - a large percentage of a base malt (or combination of base malts) and, most of the time, a small percentage combination of specialty malts to control the malt character, color, body, head retention, etc. for the style of the beer being crafted.

I would never discourage someone from building an extract recipe around a darker extract. I would, however, encourage them to think about whether or not they are interested in controlling the aforementioned factors in their brewing process. I am an unapologetic micro-manager in my brewery. I have the feeling quite a few others here are the same.
The bolded part sums it all up.
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Old 09-17-2010, 12:56 AM   #18
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Gentlemen, I don't disagree at all. I fully understand the intent behind the urging to use pale extracts and specialty grains - the pale extract mimics the contribution made by pale malt in an all-grain grist.

It must be said, however, that many well-intentioned advisers tell n00bs to avoid anything other than pale extracts. There appears to be a climate of thought against darker extracts as an ingredient less than worthy of brewers of quality product. This doesn't have to be; darker extracts are simply another weapon in a brewer's arsenal.

I can think of an even half-dozen recipes in my library which call for darker-than-pale extracts of different types. I've a brown ale recipe I spent several iterations tweaking until I decided to use Briess Amber instead of Muntons. It actually works out less expensive and easier to brew using a darker-than-pale extract in that case, because I can use less specialty grain - less waste, less mess, less fuss, less money spent in LHBS.

It's often said that there's a loss of control. While that's true to an extent, it's only true to that extent. Say, for example, you're after a Brown Ale. You could get there by using pale extract, with crystal, munich and black malt in grain bags. It'll take you a while to tune the recipe in, getting each ingredient to where you like it. You'll buy the base extract, plus at least a pound each of the specialty grains.

Or you could use Briess Dark extract and an ounce or two of roasted barley to tweak the color exactly where you want it.

See what I mean?

Don't fear the darker extracts. Just another club in the bag.

Cheers,

Bob

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Old 09-18-2010, 08:30 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Bob View Post
...unless it's the exact porter you want.

Non-light extracts are ingredients just like any other. Once you figure out what it'll do in your beer, you know enough to use it. Thus, there's nothing at all wrong with using them.

Cheers,

Bob
Right, if it you get what you want out of it, it's no problem. There's no
reason why you couldn't use a can of dark and a can of light, for
example. But I don't use the darker extracts because there is only
one beer I (mostly) make the same way every time, everything else
I'm always changing things a bit and it's just more practical to use
grains when I'm using small amounts of several grains.

Ray
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Old 09-19-2010, 03:05 PM   #20
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While reading this thread, I could get a thought out of my head...

How much difference is there in steeped versus mashed crystal or specialty grain?

As extract brewers there are definitely limitations on what we can do compared to all-grain. Yes, a good recipe is a good recipe regardless of what ingredients are used.

Is something lost by controlling color and flavor only by steeping specialty grains?

Through the use of darker extracts are there proteins or other flavor compounds that will be present because the specialty malts were mashed?

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