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Is DME-only brewing a good idea?

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frankvw

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For reasons best known to myself, I've become curious about extract brewing. I've never done it, I've always done full grain.

Most extract recipes I've seen so far either use LME or a combination of LME and DME. I'm looking into the possibility of brewing from DME only.

However, if most recipes use LME, there just might be a good reason for that (other than cost or ease of processing).

So. Brewing from DME only... A good idea or not? All opinions would be appreciated!

// FvW
 

RM-MN

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I think that cost is the major factor in this but DME will collect moisture when it is humid and tend to make a hard lump. It is quite obvious when you try to pour some into steaming wort as it will stick to the bag as it collects moisture.
 

WoodlandBrew

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You can make fine beer with DME only. Before my daughter was born I would regularly do a 5 hour all grain brew days. Time has become a scarce commodity and so I have been working on ways to reduce the brew time. My book has details in a couple of the last chapters, but in essence I've found that no boil DME beer is fine, and the cost is about the same as all-grain. (There are a number of hidden costs with all-grain)

I'm not trying to compare the quality of extract to all grain here, just saying that you can make fine beer with a small amount of time using DME.
 

Jorb

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That's what I thought. So then why do most extract recipes that use DME also use LME?

// FvW

More variety in color/flavor. I've made an all DME version of Centennial Blonde and been quite happy with it.
 

Beernik

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To me DME is more base grain focused and LME is more style focused. So a DME recipe, generally, will have more steeping grains than a LME recipe.

However, I always found my beer to be watery and thin when I did a recipe that had no steeping grains.
 

DurtyChemist

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All I do is dry malt extract. Liquid sinks to the bottom and scorches unless you warm it to 150F or higher. Dry doesn't but it DOES stick to the bag when you pour it over steam. Dunk the bag and it will come off. I'm switching to brew in a bag.
 

mrphillips

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It's more to do with the quality of ingredients than "how much crap can I mash in?" I always add at least 1 specialty grain to my brews, but that is by no means necessary. Some styles, like a Pilsner, is BETTER when you only use one grain...whether that's all grain or DME or LME doesn't seem to make a whole lotta difference (though many will argue that AG is better, I don't have any AG experience to contribute).

I used LME one time, and it clung to the bottom like sap. Like the above poster said, I prefer using DME.
 

Porsche914

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I only use DME, it's a bit less messy than liquid. All extracts are not the same. I typically use Briess when available.
 

thecad

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I prefer DME over LME because it is less messy to use, even with the clumping issues, and is easier to store if you have extra or order bulk.
 
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frankvw

frankvw

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Thanks for the many clarifications, everyone. It has been enlightening.

Ironically, because i'm in South Africa the only LME I can get which is produced locally (importing from overseas is horridly expensive here) is light LME. So the wider variety in colors and quality is a moot point for me, because I can't get any here.
getting any other LME than the light
So DME it is. Onward!

// FvW
 

RM-MN

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You might want to look at recipes that take light LME plus steeping grains anyway because you get to control what goes into your beer that way. Dark malt extracts will have had that done with someone else's choice of grains.
 

hokieguy95

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I prefer DME over LME. I had it beaten into me that your paying for alot of water with LME.
 

Steelers77

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DME, is great to use and very convenient. I do partial mashes with DME and its also nice to have some around if you are doing all grain and you miss your target OG.
 

shelly_belly

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I now make 1 gallon lager batches with only DME, hops and yeast as a way to grow yeast for 5 gallon batches. I was pleasantly surprised at how good these beers taste.
 

MKE Home Brewer

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I know this is an old thread but this might help someone whose just reading about DME and wants a quick recipe

3C IPA 5.5 gallons

OG: 1.063
FG: 1.018
ABV: 5.95%
IBUs: 47
SRM: 12



Ready: 2 WEEKS (1 week primary, 1 week secondary)

7 lbs DME Golden Light (Briess) 20 minute boil

1 lbs Briess Caramel 40 Steep grain bag until 170F, take the bag out

1.00 oz Cascade [7.80 %] Boil 20.0 min

1.00 oz Centennial [7.80 %] Boil 20.0 min

1.00 oz Citra [12.00 %] Boil 10.0 min

1 Wyeast #1056 American Ale



Yeast

WYEAST 1056 American Ale: Apparent attenuation: 73–77%. Flocculation: low to medium. Optimum temp: 60°-72° F. Very clean, crisp flavor characteristics with low fruitiness and mild ester production. Mild citrus notes develop with cooler 60-66F (15-19C) fermentations. Normally requires filtration for bright beers

Procedure

o Two days before brewing day prepare the yeast starter for pitching.

Brewing Day Checklist

o Collect and heat 6.0 gallons of water.

o Heat water to 100°F – 120°F dissolve your DME in water and bring to a boil

o Add hops to boil and start timer.

o While the wort boils sanitize the fermenting equipment along with the yeast

o When the boil is finished, cool the wort to approximately 68° F

o Add cold water as needed to bring the volume to 5.5 gallons.

o Pitch yeast them aerate the wort.

o Measure specific gravity of the wort with a hydrometer and record.

o Seal the fermenter and add fermentation lock.

o Move the fermenter to a warm, dark, quiet spot until fermentation begins.
 

HomeBrewMasterRace

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I did a DME only cream ale that I added lactose, vanilla, cinnamon and rice sugar to. Turned out amazing
 

TBKCO

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What do you guys think about this. 1 gallon of water heated to 170° steep .40 ounces of grains for 30 minutes remove the grains add 3 pounds of light DME. Bring the temperature back up to about 190° and add my hops let that steep for 30 minutes... top off with another gallon of cold water to make a 2 gallon batch. Do you guys think this would work? I really don’t want to boil my DME
 

FatDragon

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What do you guys think about this. 1 gallon of water heated to 170° steep .40 ounces of grains for 30 minutes remove the grains add 3 pounds of light DME. Bring the temperature back up to about 190° and add my hops let that steep for 30 minutes... top off with another gallon of cold water to make a 2 gallon batch. Do you guys think this would work? I really don’t want to boil my DME
Should work just fine. What's this about steeping .40 oz of grains, though? What grains? What are you trying to gain from steeping such a small amount of mystery grain?
 

Steveruch

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What do you guys think about this. 1 gallon of water heated to 170° steep .40 ounces of grains for 30 minutes remove the grains add 3 pounds of light DME. Bring the temperature back up to about 190° and add my hops let that steep for 30 minutes... top off with another gallon of cold water to make a 2 gallon batch. Do you guys think this would work? I really don’t want to boil my DME
That's almost exactly what I've been doing for a while and making pretty good beer.
Early today I brewed a two gallon batch of ordinary bitter. I heated two quarts of water to 190, mixed in half my extracts, added WGV hops and steeped for 30 minutes. Then I mixed in the rest of my extracts added six quarts of cold water and pitched my yeast.
 

TBKCO

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That's almost exactly what I've been doing for a while and making pretty good beer.
Early today I brewed a two gallon batch of ordinary bitter. I heated two quarts of water to 190, mixed in half my extracts, added WGV hops and steeped for 30 minutes. Then I mixed in the rest of my extracts added six quarts of cold water and pitched my yeast.
Good to hear that there are options to boiling and getting good beer.. whats your OG and final ABV?
 

TBKCO

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Should work just fine. What's this about steeping .40 oz of grains, though? What grains? What are you trying to gain from steeping such a small amount of mystery grain?
Ha!! Mystery grains lol i have about .5 pounds of Carastan grains.. just wanted to see if it would give more flavor and sugar..
 

FloppyKnockers

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I go back and forth between extracts and all-grain. Nothing to do with time or cost. I just have a couple extract recipes I cannot accurately reproduce with all-grain (and vice versa). That said, I hate DME. I will use it if my guy is out of LME, but it would not be preferential. I do like extracts for their store-ability and ease of use. When I was between houses I had to get a tiny apartment - no place for a proper set-up - I did all extract brewing. Maybe some steeping grains if I was feeling extravagant. I got my process nailed and even ended up with a couple award winning brews. My claim to my own fame is an award winner that is a one hour brew time and 9 day grain, err, goop to glass.

TLDR - Yes. You can do extract only with great results.
 

TBKCO

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I go back and forth between extracts and all-grain. Nothing to do with time or cost. I just have a couple extract recipes I cannot accurately reproduce with all-grain (and vice versa). That said, I hate DME. I will use it if my guy is out of LME, but it would not be preferential. I do like extracts for their store-ability and ease of use. When I was between houses I had to get a tiny apartment - no place for a proper set-up - I did all extract brewing. Maybe some steeping grains if I was feeling extravagant. I got my process nailed and even ended up with a couple award winning brews. My claim to my own fame is an award winner that is a one hour brew time and 9 day grain, err, goop to glass.

TLDR - Yes. You can do extract only with great results.
Hope to get that good someday.. do you recommend a boil using DME or can I get away with a no boil?
 

FloppyKnockers

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Hope to get that good someday.. do you recommend a boil using DME or can I get away with a no boil?
This question has kept me up at night and the rabbit hole only goes deeper. No-boil dme is fine, but you're not getting the full potential of flavor and bitterness from your hops. Alpha acids isomerize in temps above 175. No boil = no isomerization. How about boiling hops in water? No...just no. Too much bitterness and it'll feel like you just ate a dandelion. Boiling is good, but you risk scorching the extract. What about a late extract addition? This is fine and great because less scorching and lighter beer, but you can end up with an overly bitter beer. What about limiting the amount of hops in a late extract addition? Now we're talking, but what about the flavor and aroma hops? Maybe limit those too, but less than that of the bittering hops. Screw it - how about just a full volume boil? That way the extract is diluted enough so it won't scorch and there's enough sugars for appropriate hop utilization. Sounds great... let's talk about the Milliard reaction now ... [jumps out closest window]
 

Steveruch

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Hope to get that good someday.. do you recommend a boil using DME or can I get away with a no boil?
No-boil works fine.
If you are an AHA member check out the Last Drop column in the current issue of Zymurgy.
I served some of the recipe to the brewer at Port'oPints in Crescent City, California and he said he wouldn't have known it was no-boil just by taste.
 

FatDragon

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Ha!! Mystery grains lol i have about .5 pounds of Carastan grains.. just wanted to see if it would give more flavor and sugar..
So how much did you steep? Really just .4 oz? Or was it 4 oz or the whole half pound? 4 oz seems about right for a two gallon brew. A tenth of that probably won't make a perceptible difference versus not steeping any grains at all.
 

BrewnWKopperKat

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This question has kept me up at night and the rabbit hole only goes deeper. No-boil dme is fine, but you're not getting the full potential of flavor and bitterness from your hops. Alpha acids isomerize in temps above 175. No boil = no isomerization. How about boiling hops in water? No...just no. Too much bitterness and it'll feel like you just ate a dandelion. Boiling is good, but you risk scorching the extract. What about a late extract addition? This is fine and great because less scorching and lighter beer, but you can end up with an overly bitter beer. What about limiting the amount of hops in a late extract addition? Now we're talking, but what about the flavor and aroma hops? Maybe limit those too, but less than that of the bittering hops. Screw it - how about just a full volume boil? That way the extract is diluted enough so it won't scorch and there's enough sugars for appropriate hop utilization. Sounds great... let's talk about the Milliard reaction now ... [jumps out closest window]
... and there's the idea of a 'concentrated wort' and topping off with cold water (3x wort volume to minimize chill time) that's mentioned here:
Early today I brewed a two gallon batch of ordinary bitter. I heated two quarts of water to 190, mixed in half my extracts, added WGV hops and steeped for 30 minutes. Then I mixed in the rest of my extracts added six quarts of cold water and pitched my yeast.
That rabbit hole looks deep enough to cause a person to go BAIB/"all-grain" and "never look back" :).

Seriouly, I have a couple of "recipe templates" (currently just in my head) that I use to navigate the short/no boil variations: 15-minute pale ale, BBR hop sampler, hop steep / no-boil, @Steveruch 's "concentrated no-boil" approach, ...

back to the related question:
do you recommend a boil using DME or can I get away with a no boil?
Yes and yes; depending on the style of beer. edit: remember that, in 2019, Munich, Pale Ale, and Vienna DME are available.
 
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TBKCO

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This question has kept me up at night and the rabbit hole only goes deeper. No-boil dme is fine, but you're not getting the full potential of flavor and bitterness from your hops. Alpha acids isomerize in temps above 175. No boil = no isomerization. How about boiling hops in water? No...just no. Too much bitterness and it'll feel like you just ate a dandelion. Boiling is good, but you risk scorching the extract. What about a late extract addition? This is fine and great because less scorching and lighter beer, but you can end up with an overly bitter beer. What about limiting the amount of hops in a late extract addition? Now we're talking, but what about the flavor and aroma hops? Maybe limit those too, but less than that of the bittering hops. Screw it - how about just a full volume boil? That way the extract is diluted enough so it won't scorch and there's enough sugars for appropriate hop utilization. Sounds great... let's talk about the Milliard reaction now ... [jumps out closest window]
WTH!! Everything you just wrote I have thought of! Wow!
Ok now... whats the best way to carbonate your 16oz bottled beer? I read carb tabs??
OG is 1.040. I won't know the final ABV for probably a week.
nice
So how much did you steep? Really just .4 oz? Or was it 4 oz or the whole half pound? 4 oz seems about right for a two gallon brew. A tenth of that probably won't make a perceptible difference versus not steeping any grains at all.
Correct, I used .40 oz of grains. It gave me great color, and fermentable sugars. I am currently using BSG’s carbonation tablets. Can you recommend a different carbonation tablet to give me good carbonation?
 

eimar

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I brew with extract about 10% of the time . I use Briess CBW® Pilsen Light . I came to the personal conclusion that fresh LME tastes better than the equivalent DME.
I uses DME for making yeast starters, it is less messy and it is easier to weight the exact amount. If well packed it won't absorb moisture.
I started to brew in ...1990 with malt extract, the quality of malt extract has come a long way.
 

kh54s10

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I started with Northern Brewer kits that had LME, DME and steeping grains. If I do extracts, I now use Briess Golden Light (It's what I bought last for starters) and steeping grains. I prefer to get color and flavor from grain rather than different malt extracts.

I never try to add DME from the bag. I spoon it in so it doesn't get stuck to the bag or bowl. I have only done traditional 60 minute boils for hop isomerization.

My extracts have been every bit as good as all grain, but I prefer all grain. I want control of all the ingredients and amounts. And I enjoy the process a little more even if it does take a long time.
 
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