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Old 06-19-2008, 03:36 PM   #1
Slappy White
 
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I've heard of many people talk about how extract brews can be just as good as AG, and even win contests! The winner of my local brew contest is always the same guy in almost every category....and he is an extract brewer. He has been brewing for a very long time and his extract brews are excellent. He uses specialty grains also, so it is more of a PM than just extract but still......I was wondering what are some techniques that I could use to improve my extract or PM brews. Mine have been good but not as good as I want them to be.....any ideas

Thanks
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Old 06-19-2008, 03:48 PM   #2
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Three things that I can think of off the top of my head that will help a lot.

1. Always use a starter (unless using dry yeast of course). Pitching the correct amount of yeast will help your beers immensely.

2. Go full boil. Ask just about anyone who has gone from partial boil to full boil and they will say they noticed a huge difference in quality after switching to a full boil.

3. Temp control during fermentation. Make sure you are fermenting without much temp fluctuation, and make sure you are fermenting at the appropriate temp for the yeast you are using.
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Old 06-19-2008, 04:05 PM   #3
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How about asking him for some of his recipes and notes...DOH!!!
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Old 06-19-2008, 04:16 PM   #4
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I second fermentation temperature control. Try to pitch your yeast at your desired fermentation temperature and control that temperature throughout fermentation. When I started controlling my fermentation temperature, it tasted much more like commercial craft beer. Fermenting too warm can cause an excess of esters from the yeast.

If you can't do full boils, use late extract addition. Some argue that doing a concentrated boil of extract causes "extract twang" from the Malliard reactions. Add enough extract to reach a gravity of about 1.040 (about 3-4 lbs extract for 3 gallons water) in the wort, then the rest towards the end of the boil. Make sure to adjust your hops, as you will get more utilization out of them with the lower gravity boil (another good reason to use late addition: can use fewer hops). Search this forum for "late extract addition." There are many threads with a lot of good information.

Use fresh ingredients. Liquid malt extract can go stale if on the shelf for a while. If you can't determine the age of the liquid malt extract from your local homebrew store, then use dry malt extract. It stays better much longer.

Pitching proper amounts of yeast is also seconded. Make sure to rehydrate if you're going with dry yeast.


You can definitely make award winning beer with extract. I've never entered any competitions, but some of the extract beers I made were very good. I was actually surprised to find out how many award winning extract beers there were when reading "Designing Great Beers." In some categories, half of the NHC second round competitors were just extract+grain brewers. Making good beer is more than extract versus all grain, it has to do with sound brewing practice. Proper sanitation and proper fermentation control have much more to do with brewing award winning beer.

Edit:

Also, if you're not already doing so, use only light malt extract and get flavor and color from steeping grains. The only exceptions to this are special extracts required to make certain beers, i.e. Munich malt extract, Wheat extract.


 
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Old 06-19-2008, 04:23 PM   #5
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Check out JZ's book as well. Lots of "award winning" extract recipes.
http://www.amazon.com/Brewing-Classi...3892585&sr=8-1
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Old 06-19-2008, 05:04 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by homebrewer_99 View Post
How about asking him for some of his recipes and notes...DOH!!!
I did....he just laughed and said that I will figure it out after awhile....so not much help. If I pursued it he might help me out tho
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Old 06-19-2008, 05:08 PM   #7
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Alright...well in my next brew I will try a full boil and rehydrating my dry yeast. I will wait to do late addition of my extract if the full boil doesnt cure my extract twang. I saw in Palmers book that he used two packs of dry yeast and rehydrated it....I have only being using one but not hydrating....Is two too much?...that kinda confused me a little
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Old 06-19-2008, 05:11 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slappy White View Post
I did....he just laughed and said that I will figure it out after awhile....so not much help. If I pursued it he might help me out tho
Sounds like a bit of a pompous jerk. Check out Jamil Zainasheff and John Palmer's "Brewing Classic Styles" book and Jamil's podcasts on The Brewing Network. Jamil says, and I agree, that a really good brewer will share what he's learned. I've brewed a couple of Jamil's extract recipes (I partial mash, so I alter a little, but still use extract), and they're great.
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Old 06-19-2008, 05:13 PM   #9
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Man, looks like it's all covered here. I was going to say get Jamil's book (as a good recipe is essential), and control your fermentation temps.

Two packs of dry yeast would be fine, but isn't necessary - a single pack works perfectly well. You can also get away without rehydrating your yeast. I rehydrate mine as it helps fermentation get started a little quicker, but if you'd prefer to just go the easier route of pitching your yeast dry, that will be fine too. I've done it with no negative effects.
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Old 06-19-2008, 06:08 PM   #10
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Just to clarify....if I do a full boil there would be no need to do late extract addition?
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