Bulk Extract and Style variations

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Well-Known Member
Oct 21, 2007
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Haddonfield, NJ
for all you guys who are brewing enough to want to go with bulk extract - do you find that you just have one kind of extract and do all style variations thru speciality grains (steeping or partial mash)?

the only exception i can think of is wheat extract, otherwise i can myself just using extra light for most everything (except "big" beers?)
Depends on if you want to choose your own specialty grains or not. If you are going to be steeping/mini-mashing in grains, then go with x-pale. If you just want something easy that already has some color to it go with dark, gold or amber. Wheat extract... self explanatory.

I just made a porter and realized I didn't have any crystal... so I dug up a 3.3# jug of dark DME and replaced 3.3# of the x-pale I was using. Its good for a pinch I guess...
You can do just about anything with extra light DME and specialty grains. If you like a lot of German styles, Briess has a good Pilsen DME. Then, as you mentioned, you can go with wheat extract when that's what you want to do.

Yeah, Dark Extract is basically x-pale extract with some select grains already added in there. So instead of making x-pale wort and concentrating that, they add in some Crystal grains too which darken it up and concentrate that.
I just bought a 33lb container of Dark extract to do a 25gallon batch of porter. My good LHBS owner suggested that I could just steep about 5-10 lbs of dark grains(into light LME) to get the color, but all in all, we concluded that by buying the dark (at the same price), I could save a couple bucks on the specialties.
i went to my LHBS with a stout recipe, which had Dark LME as the base, and they told me to go with Light LME (some irish brand), and I mashed some black barley and barley flakes with some US 2-row pale malt. The colour is a little paler than i was hoping (it's still in primary though, in fairness) but the taste is exactly what I wanted, great creamy chocolaty flavour, great mouthfeel.

the LHBS was telling me that Dark extract will not ferment out as dry as Light - and if you are steeping or partial mashing, get flavour and colour from those grains for the most part and just back it up with the light or xlight extract.

now you might think if i'd already heard that, why am i asking this question? well like i say, that's what they said, but then they advised me to get Northwestern Gold Extract for a lager i made two weeks back - not very consistent...
Well you have more control over the color and flavor when you use x-pale. You're adding in what grains you want and how much. If you are looking for a quick, easy, and cheap way to make a batch then dark LME may be what you are looking for.