Doing extract again; getting dry and avoiding "extract" flavor

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Tall_Yotie

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Hey folks. So I've been brewing for almost 20 years, and have been all grain except when I started. I now have a young kid so don't have those long hours to do the whole mash thing. So looking to do extract.

I recall that with extract I couldn't get as low a FG as with All Grain. Is that still a thing? Is there a technique change I need to make?

Extract flavor. It seems almost every beer done with extract you can tell. Always a bit caramelly. Is that due to scorching from not stirring enough, or do I go with a lighter extract than I need to avoid said flavor?

Thanks for any thoughts!
 
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I recall that with extract I couldn't get as low a FG as with All Grain. Is that still a thing? Is there a technique change I need to make?
In general, with a well designed recipe, fresh ingredients, and a solid brewing/fermentation process, this is not a problem.

Extract flavor. It seems almost every beer done with extract you can tell. Always a bit caramelly. Is that due to scorching from not stirring enough, or do I go with a lighter extract than I need to avoid said flavor?
In general, scorching, bad recipe design, and stale ingredients are factors. A lighter extract (assuming it is fresh) will not cause or fix this problem.

... I've been brewing for almost 20 years, and have been all grain except when I started.

[...]

Thanks for any thoughts!
A lot has changed in the last 20 years. Consider picking up a copy of How to Brew, 4e. The first 9 chapters cover brewing with extract.

The topic "I Brewed a Favorite Recipe Today" may be of interest - it's an on-going discussion that focuses on extract based recipes. In that topic you'll find links to additional on-going discussion topics that are focused on extract brewing.
 

PCABrewing

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Hey folks. So I've been brewing for almost 20 years, and have been all grain except when I started. I now have a young kid so don't have those long hours to do the whole mash thing. So looking to do extract.

I recall that with extract I couldn't get as low a FG as with All Grain. Is that still a thing? Is there a technique change I need to make?

Extract flavor. It seems almost every beer done with extract you can tell. Always a bit caramelly. Is that due to scorching from not stirring enough, or do I go with a lighter extract than I need to avoid said flavor?

Thanks for any thoughts!
The last time I brewed an extract batch I finished with a gravity of 1.013 with Wyeast 1762.
That was ~8 yrs ago. Prior to that I did a Dead Ringer clone (my re-design) that finished at 1.011.
Both were 90% DME with a small amount of grains steeped, not mashed.
 

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Guessing you have equipment left on hand? If starting over, consider electric. Can fill with water the night before, set a timer, and wake up to mash in temperatures. You do have to wait for the mashing to happen, but can walk away form it and do family things while it's going on.
 

D.B.Moody

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I am assuming the caramel you disliked would have been from scorching extract on the bottom of the brew kettle. This can be reduced or pretty well eliminated by fully dissolving the extract before you begin heating it, doing a less concentrated boil by adding at least half the extract after the boil, boiling for 30 minutes instead of 60, boiling at a simmer instead of vigorously, and stirring well.
 
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Bobby_M

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Sometimes caramel flavors and aromas come from overuse of caramel malts. I've seen plenty of poorly constructed recipes and even LHBS "kits" with entirely too much crystal/caramel malts layered on top of malt extracts that already have a portion of crystal malts in their makeup. Stick to recipes out of books like Brewing Classic Styles or similar. Stale LME is also a potential problem so all else being equal I would recommend sticking with DME.
 
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Tall_Yotie

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Sometimes caramel flavors and aromas come from overuse of caramel malts. I've seen plenty of poorly constructed recipes and even LHBS "kits" with entirely too much crystal/caramel malts layered on top of malt extracts that already have a portion of crystal malts in their makeup. Stick to recipes out of books like Brewing Classic Styles or similar. Stale LME is also a potential problem so all else being equal I would recommend sticking with DME.
I'm pretty good at knowing the specialty malt side of thing, but I can see where you could get off flavors from stale extract.
 
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Tall_Yotie

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I am assuming the caramel you disliked would have been from scorching extract on the bottom of the brew kettle. This can be reduced to pretty well eliminated by fully dissolving the extract before you begin heating it, doing a less concentrated boil by adding at least half the extract after the boil, boiling for 30 minutes instead of 60, boiling at a simmer instead of vigorously, and stirring well.
Those are all cool ideas! Never thought to cold dissolve the extract or add a portion at the end, though I've done that with other added sugars for this exact reason.
 
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Sometimes caramel flavors and aromas come from overuse of caramel malts. I've seen plenty of poorly constructed recipes and even LHBS "kits" with entirely too much crystal/caramel malts layered on top of malt extracts that already have a portion of crystal malts in their makeup. Stick to recipes out of books like Brewing Classic Styles or similar. Stale LME is also a potential problem so all else being equal I would recommend sticking with DME.
I'm pretty good at knowing the specialty malt side of thing, but I can see where you could get off flavors from stale extract.
Starting around 2015, there was 'grain bill' information (often directly from those who make the DME/LME) for the various styles of DME.

Most lighter styles are known (or believed to be known) to have a grain bill that's 99% or 100% base malt.

Darker styles (Amber, Dark, Traditional Dark) will contain specialty malts.

You will likely find that most good recipes use just extra light or light DME as the base malt. On the other hand, with good recipe design, one can make a good red beer (American Amber, Red IPA, Double Red Ale, ...) using Amber DME.



Another thing that is better understood (since the early 2000s) is the mineral content of the DME/LME.

Using "no mineral" (RO/distilled) or known low mineral water is good starting point.

One can then make 'flavor' salt adjustments using techniques described in a couple of topics here at HomeBrewTalk.
 

Davedrinksbeer

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Extract brewing has improved over the years. I’ve won plenty of ribbons at the state fair doing extract brewing. I put my LME in a tub of Hot Water to get it to pour easier. I also add the LME when the wort is at 180-190 to prevent scorching the bottom of the pan.
 

D.B.Moody

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! Never thought to cold dissolve the extract or add a portion at the end
I will admit that my real reason for dissolving in unheated water is that I prefer to use DME. Adding DME to hot water or to hot wort in a late addition is asking for a cloud of stickiness. Since I brew in the kitchen, I don't do that. Dissolving the DME in unheated water before heating it for the boil, or before it's added as a late addition, avoids this and allows me to do a 30 minute boil with a late addition of half my extract.
If one was to use liquid extract it would still help to add at lower temperatures as @Davedrinksbeer points out. I would also recommend turning off the heat and moving the kettle off the burner while adding the extract. And having a late addition pre dissolved would still be helpful.
 
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dmtaylor

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I'll just leave this here. Cheers all.

35033210393_4cf46b0063_o.png
 

lablover

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I use DME from Morebeer for all my extract beers and they are very similar to all grain, no extract twang and can be as dry as the yeast I choose will take it. In the case of LME and DME I'd choose a high volume seller so you get more fresh product. Nottingham yeast at 66 to 68 F fermentation gives a very clean base for most of my Pales and blonde beers.
 
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Tall_Yotie

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Starting around 2015, there was 'grain bill' information (often directly from those who make the DME/LME) for the various styles of DME.

Most lighter styles are known (or believed to be known) to have a grain bill that's 99% or 100% base malt.

Darker styles (Amber, Dark, Traditional Dark) will contain specialty malts.

You will likely find that most good recipes use just extra light or light DME as the base malt. On the other hand, with good recipe design, one can make a good red beer (American Amber, Red IPA, Double Red Ale, ...) using Amber DME.



Another thing that is better understood (since the early 2000s) is the mineral content of the DME/LME.

Using "no mineral" (RO/distilled) or known low mineral water is good starting point.

One can then make 'flavor' salt adjustments using techniques described in a couple of topics here at HomeBrewTalk.
Huh, good to know! I'll look into the flavor adjustment thing. I did extract before I even messed around with water chemistry, so will see what I need to change up from my normal routine. Cool to hear things changed this much!
 
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Tall_Yotie

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I'll just leave this here. Cheers all.

35033210393_4cf46b0063_o.png
Very cool!
65% fermentable?!?!? Yikes! That seems like it would be not a good idea for a ton of styles, especially big beers that you don't want to finish sweet. I suppose for that I would sub in a decent amount of white sugar to help offset.
 
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Tall_Yotie

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I use DME from Morebeer for all my extract beers and they are very similar to all grain, no extract twang and can be as dry as the yeast I choose will take it. In the case of LME and DME I'd choose a high volume seller so you get more fresh product. Nottingham yeast at 66 to 68 F fermentation gives a very clean base for most of my Pales and blonde beers.
Ah so you get better than that 65% that the chart above mentions? I get my stuff from MB, so good to know that they are a decent source. I'll prob stick with DME from my reading above.
 

TheBluePhantom

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Briess gives fermentability of most of their extracts as 75%. This is listed as typical analysis, but is not guaranteed. If you want lighter beer you can chose from many sugars. Corn sugar, white sugar, honey, Belgian candy sugar, Rice syrup solids, maple syrup. Any will boost alcohol, they add different flavors and character. Corn sugar and rice re popular among the macro brewers and they have found some fans in homebrewing.
 
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65% fermentable?!?!? Yikes!
There was a Zymurgy Magazine article a long time ago (1990s?) that reviewed a number of brands of liquid malt extract. 30 years ago, there was some variation in the fermentability of LME. Some of these brands may still be available.

In the late 2010s and early 2020s, I have found that commonly available brands of DME (Briess, Muntons, ...) are 75% fermentable. For most of my APA/IPA recipes, the recipes use a small mount of sugar to create a wort that matches the style.

There's also small amount of sugar in my 'all-grain' DIPA recipe.

I'll look into the flavor adjustment thing.

Basically, the idea is to take a beer, make small additions of CaCl, CaS04, and (maybe) NaCl in the glass, then adjust the recipe on the next brew. I find that different brands of DME have different amounts of flavor salt additions. There should be a post or two over in the "Advanced Extract Brewers" topic on how to do it. There's also a 2019-ish topic.
 
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Tall_Yotie

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Basically, the idea is to take a beer, make small additions of CaCl, CaS04, and (maybe) NaCl in the glass, then adjust the recipe on the next brew. I find that different brands of DME have different amounts of flavor salt additions. There should be a post or two over in the "Advanced Extract Brewers" topic on how to do it. There's also a 2019-ish topic.
Ah so it's an "after the fact / next time" thing, gotcha. I had my salt amounts for different brews dialed in really well, so a bit disappointing that I will be at square one, but it is what it is.
 
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