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Old 09-24-2009, 05:34 PM   #1
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Default Describe the flavor of an extract brew

I've heard that beers brewed with extract don't taste as good but I've never read a description of what changes in the flavor. I ask because my wife, who ordinarily like beer, doesn't seem to care for any of my homebrew (I like it just fine). We've gone over the list of off flavors and none of them seem to be right. I occurred to me that the flavor she doesn't care for could be the flavor of extract but I can't be sure. I plan to make the move to Partial Mash or All-Grain (via DeathBrewer's stovetop method) but I'd like to know for sure.

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Old 09-24-2009, 05:50 PM   #2
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Myabe you're just making beer styles that don't agree with her pallette? My wife, who doesn't like beer, actually enjoyed a few sips of my extract brown ale.

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Old 09-24-2009, 05:56 PM   #3
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I think the extract "twang" is more often made into this huge difference, when really, there isn't that much of a difference. If the beer is fermented, and allowed to sit for awhile before drinking, all the flavors mellow into a smooth beer.

Maybe AG is ready "faster" than extract in that regard.

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Old 09-24-2009, 05:57 PM   #4
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You just have to treat extract carefully. There are 2 things that I think cause "extract twang". They are Miallard Reactions and caramelization. These can lead to flavors such as bready, biscuty, caramel, and buttery.

Miallard reactions are non enzymatic browning reactions that happen between an amino acid and sugar. They are very complex, and not all of them have been documented. Maillard reactions are responsible for toast, browning of meat, and malted barley. Some Maillard reactions can happen at room temperature. This is why its important to buy fresh LME. The longer LME sits at room temp, or warmer temperatures, the more suseptible it is to these reactions.

The other is caramelization, which occurs between two sugars. Caramelization can effect extract brewers in two ways. First is if you dump LME into the pot without turning off the burner. The hot bottom will scortch the concentrated LME. Extract brewers also tend to do smaller boils. While an AG brewer is boiling 6+ gallons for a 5g batch, an extract brewer might be boiling 3 and topping off. A concentrated boil a concentrated boil can increase chances of kettle caramelization. It also can increase melanoidin production (a Miallard reaction).

Extract brewing is not necessarily inferior to All Grain. All grain gives you more control over color, fermenability and freshness. If done correctly, extract can produce some great beer. Stepping up to full boils, using fresh extract and mixing in the extract before putting back on the burner will assure the best quality extract beer.

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Old 09-24-2009, 05:59 PM   #5
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Extract beer, to me, taste like...


beer.

Which beer(s) does your wife like and are you brewing styles like that?

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Old 09-24-2009, 06:02 PM   #6
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It is most likely not a problem with the extract (unless it was old or mishandled) but a problem with your brewing practices. Going AG will not change those.

The common problems are,

1. underpitching yeast (check Mr. Malty dot com for some good guidance and starting points) this leads to potentially underattenuation and definitely to the production of significantly more yeast byproducts

2. full boil. A less than full boil does affect the beers flavor and the utilization of the hops is also greatly affected.

3. Aeration or oxygenation. Most newer brewers do not adequately aerate the wort, thereby stressing the yeast and pronouncing the problems of 1.

4. Yeast nutrition. Having the proper nutrients in the wort helps everything.

5. Water. As an extract brewer you do not need any salts or minerals in your water, it is best to use distilled or ro water. Tap is fine, but will change your results.

6. Contamination. Even if you beer is not spoiled you may be having minor infections that are affecting your flavor profile. Double check your sanitation practices.

7. Yeast pitching temperature. It is ideal to pitch below your target fermentation temperature.

8. Fermentation temperature. This is the temperature of hte beer not of the air. You want to keep it at least in range, and most often ideally at the lower end of the range.

9. Fermentation schedule. If you don't really know what you are doing, leave your beer int he primary until final gravity is met then at least 1-2 weeks longer. If you are interested in secondary fermentation, read my blog for my opinions on that.

10. Clean bottling. Make sure you don't get infections when bottling and be sure to properly prime the beer.

There are other things of course, but these are major ones many new and extract brewers make that cause their beer to be less than it could be. Extract can make great beer, it isn't for me, but it can be done.

Fix these and make great extract beer. Once you have that stuff together, the jump to AG will make another difference in quality IMO. But if you don't have the above solved, AG won't fix your beer.

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Old 09-24-2009, 06:06 PM   #7
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I did a wheat beer, a coffee porter, and a Kolsch (not very true to style what with the wheat and American hops). The wheat and porter where canned extract kits from my LHBS and the Kolsch was a kit from Austin Homebrew. She generally likes any beer that isn't too hoppy, just like myself. I would say that the beer does have kind of a twang but I've always been careful about turning off my burner when I add the extract. I'm sure that the canned extract was far from fresh but I would have higher hopes for the extract from Austin...

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Old 09-24-2009, 06:11 PM   #8
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What water did you use? That makes a fairly large difference in the quality of the homebrew. Yeast sometimes process minerals and chemicals present in water to off flavors.

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Old 09-24-2009, 06:56 PM   #9
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I have no experience to support this, but I've read MANY times on this forum about people having a consistent "twang" aftertaste when using Canned kits, particularly hopped canned kits.

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Old 09-24-2009, 07:14 PM   #10
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Quote:
It is most likely not a problem with the extract (unless it was old or mishandled) but a problem with your brewing practices. Going AG will not change those
+1

Personally I have never had an AG homebrew that I thought was better then an extract brew.

Just saying that MOST AG brewers are not that good and Mini Mashers KNOW they have to be very careful.

hopped canned kits - different story. Probably old extract but I've never tasted one.
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