In part 1 I gave you some tips on how to make excellent extract beer. In this installment, I’m going to demonstrate my extract process so that you can see my particular extract brewing method, where I incorporate all the aspects I talked about. This should help provide a visual accompaniment to what I wrote in part 1. I should note that I am not claiming this is the best and only method for brewing extract beers, but rather a tried and true method that I use to make extract beer that turns out indistinguishable from all grain versions of the same beers. So with that, let’s brew a couple of extract beers. One with my preferred method, with dry malt extract and one with liquid malt extract.
The First recipe we are going to brew is going to be blood orange gose. You can find the recipe HERE.
First we should look at the equipment I have. I don’t want you to think that you need to have all of this (remember I am primarily an all-grain brewer, so most of this is more a luxury for extract than essential) but this equipment is very versatile and will get you where you want to be for both extract an all-grain brewing.
I always start every extract beer I make with distilled water. As I pointed out earlier, this is important to making great extract beer because the malting facility has already used water salts in their mash. When they condense the extract (even dry) the salts are in that extract. If you use municipal or spring water, you are essentially adding even more ions to the beer, which can potentially give you some unwanted flavors.
I usually fill my pot with all of my brewing water at once, about 7 gallons total, considering trub and evaporation loss. I then place my steeping grains into the cold water and slowly heat the water to 150 degrees. All you are looking for in extract beers is to extract flavor from the grain through steeping. This is a steep, not a mash. So whether or not you cold steep or hit your temperature really doesn’t impact anything negativity and some would argue that a cold steep with roasted grains is actually a benefit. However, in a true cold steeping process you cold steep the roasted grains and add that steeped water near the end of the boil….but that’s for another post. Above, I am steeping the 2 pounds of acid malt. In this particular case I did hold my steep at 150 for about a half hour. My theory was because acid malt is 2-row and can convert. So I essentially looked at this as a very thin mash. I was hoping if I stayed in the 150 range for a while I’d get some starch conversion. Once the 30 minutes is up, just pull the bag and turn back on the heat to bring the water to boiling.
Once to boiling, you want to add 1/4 to 1/2 of your total extract, reserving the last 1/2 to 3/4 for the last 15 minutes of the boil. Making this type of change to a recipe that was not designed for late extract will boost your IBU’s, so make adjustments accordingly if your recipe is not a late extract recipe. I make EVERY extract beer this way because it helps reduce darkening that tends to happen more with extract beer, and it helps reduce kettle caramelization. For some reason extract tends to taste more burnt than all-grain when you get kettle caramelization so I tend to avoid boiling a lot of the extract early on.
It is at this time you usually tend to add your first charge of hops. I wait until all my extract has been dissolved and the heat brings the wort back up to a boil. Depending on the recipe you may have several charges of hops or just one. In the case of this gose, I added one charge of hops with 30 minutes left and one with 15 minutes left. I didn’t want a lot of bitterness but I wanted a lot of hop flavor from the palisades, which to me tend to taste more citrus orange than anything. Again, I would like make note that if your recipe was not designed for late addition extract, you want to make adjustments to your hop schedule. Beersmith 2 makes this very easy to do. There is actually a checkbox when you add extract to choose if it’s late addition. It will properly calculate your hop IBU’s based on the late extract information.
Once the boil starts it’s time for me to get my yeast rehydrated and start sanitizing my equipment. So I first boil about a cup of water and cover it place it in the fridge. It should cool in about 15-20 minutes to roughly 70 degrees. I then transfer that water to a sanitized PET bottle and add my dry yeast. Shake it up and let it sit. It will be ready to pitch by the time your chill cycle starts.
Now there is come debate on whether or not you should rehydrate your dry yeast. The way I look at it, the yeast manufacturers say to do it, and that rehydration build healthy and stronger cell walls. Since I want to make the best beer I can make, I want to maximize the health of my yeast. So I rehydrate. But a lot of people say they don’t have issues with not rehydrating. However, reading the forums on people not achieving full attenuation, getting stuck fermentations, or having other minor fermentation issues. I wonder how many times “I’ve never had a problem” is really true. Rehydration is cheap (free basically), quick, and safe as long you boil your water and sanitize your PET bottle. What do you have to lose?
Next I mix up my star san and start soaking any parts that I know will come in contact with my chilled beer. Remember minimum contact time for star san is something like 30-60 seconds. But that doesn’t mean that is your time limit. I tend to sanitize for several minutes. It’s not difficult and gives me extra piece of mind. I also should add that I sanitize my counterflow chiller and pump before I brew. I fill my kettle with 2 gallons of water and bring it to a boil. I then open the valve and pump that boiling water through my pump and chiller for 15 minutes. It’s important to mention that simply because I didn’t mention it earlier and it is critical to sanitize your counterflow chiller.
With about 15 minutes left in the boil you want to add the remainder of your extract and your last charge of hops. In the case of this gose, that’s also when you want to add the salt and the coriander. Then you can just ride out that last 15 minutes before it’s time to chill. I have provided an illustration showing the flow (in yellow) of beer and the flow of water (in blue) for those who may not be well versed in chillers. It’s a very simple concept, The beer flows in one direction and the cold water flows in the opposite. In this case the beer flows down then up, because of the advantage of the pump. If you don’t have a pump you can just put the chiller lower than the pot and let gravity do it’s thing. The key is to have the cold water in the outer jacket moving the opposite direction. So in this case my beer flows down the tube to the pump, which pushes the beer up through the chiller. The cold water flows from the backside of the chiller down and out the output hose (not pictured).
There is one other advantage to using the pump that I talked about earlier. That is using it to aerate my wort, instead of using a pure O2 system or aquarium pump. I use the agitation of the wort pouring back into the kettle to aerate. Since I chill for quite some time, usually up to 10 to 15 minutes I get plenty of aeration. It’s like killing 2 birds with one stone. On one hand I’m circulating the wort through the chiller back into the kettle so that cold break collects in the kettle, and not my fermentation vessel, and second I’m aerating. Now some people will be concerned with hot side aeration, but from what I’ve read that whole theory has been debunked. Oxygen does not readily dissolve in hot or warm liquid to begin with, and the aeration will actually only start as the beer cools. Plus any oxygen introduced will be used up by the yeast during reproduction. Oxidizing melanoidins will happen whether to the wort is hot or cold, and usually takes a lot longer to occur than the few minutes we are chilling.
One last blast of Star San into my Ss Brew Tech brew bucket…..
Move the output hose from the chiller going into the brew pot into the fermentor….
Take a reading with the refractometer….
And it’s time to pitch that rehydrated yeast………
We’re done! Now just to bring the bucket to the basement and monitor the temperature. In this case, my basement was right at 62 so my fermentation was going to be pretty much where I wanted it, between 65 and 68 degrees. So no need to connect the FTSs to my brew bucket this round. The only thing I don’t have pictured is adding the 1 pound of Blood Orange Candi Syrup to the fermentor after primary fermentation is complete. With the cascade candi syrups, there is no need to boil them before use, they are sterile according to the manufacturer. I used it in my primary and the gose is about a month old, with no infectious off flavors or aromas.
Now for the liquid extract beer I made a Ginger and Molasses Porter using Breiss CBW Porter malt extract and Thai Ginger and Molasses Cascade Candi Syrup. You can find that recipe HERE. The process is EXACTLY the same as what I outlined above except the extract is liquid, not dry. I normally like using the lightest extract possible and getting my color and flavor from the grains, but I want to say that I really like the Porter extract for making brown porter. When it comes to freshness, I do have an advantage to be quite honest. That is that I do work part-time at a homebrew supply shop, so I do have that advantage of knowing our turnover on extracts, which is actually fairly high, and what extracts just came in. (Here is a link to our homebrew supply shop, we have $5.99 flat rate shipping and orders place before 3pm Central time ship the same day)So when using liquid malt extract, freshness is the biggest factor to consider. Especially when using these darker “specialty” extracts. Liquid extracts just tends to oxidize in storage faster than dry malt extract.