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02/08/06 01:13 PM  
Extract recommendation?
I haven't graduated yet to all-grain brews, and so am still using extract. Does anyone have strong opinions on a brand of extract that does particularly well in the Belgian Styles, especially triples and/or golden strongs? I prefer beers that attenuate very well (85%+ is what I shoot for).

I've played around with Munton and Fison dried light, Northwestern Light syrup, and Weyermann Bavarian pilsner syrup.

Thanks for the input!

02/09/06 06:44 AM  
Re: Extract recommendation?
Its been over a decade for me Mallace since going to grain, but thinking back I considered my first notable upgrade in approach to be going from liquid to dry extract. Certainly it was easier to handle. Your desire for better attenuation would be better realized by exploring yeast handling options. Good news, that can be done without a leap to grain. Ever try "serial" brewing? That is making 3 or 4 batches on concurrent weekends, pouring the new wort on the freshly racked yeast cake of the last batch?
02/09/06 07:53 AM  
Re: Extract recommendation?
Haven't tried serial brewing yet, and I am currently sticking with a single triple recipe while changing the yeast. But it's early on.

What did you like about dry extract as opposed to syrup, aside from the absence of pervasive gooey messes?

02/09/06 10:12 AM  
Re: Extract recommendation?
Well, avoiding the gooey mess was a good part of it! At the time (1991 I think it was) I bought a kit to make a double bock, from Alternate Beverages as I recall. It was based off of DME and was a lot easier to work with than what I was used to - and made the best beer I done to date (that date that is!).

I have actually boiled up syrup a few times since to test experimental concepts, basically the idea I was persueing was not worth the time involved with mashing. One thing that amazed me was how dark beer came out with syrup. I mean a can of wheat syrup, obviously designed to make a friggin' wheat beer which is always pale came out brown.

So I would guess that DME gives you more reliable results, is less of a mess and does not tend to sink to the bottom when poured into water.

But mark my word Mallace - the single best thing you can do that can be accomplished without making the kind of leap that grain brewing represents is to pay more attention to your yeast handling. Remember, you make wort. Yeast makes beer. Change your yeasts, settle on one enough to committ 3 batches to it and serial brew. The yeast will gain strength every time, out performing each previous pass. The secret of good beer is in the yeast.

02/09/06 01:18 PM  
Re: Extract recommendation?
Could you go into a bit more detail on what is meant by a freshly racked yeast cake? Does that involve scooping out the settled yeast and pitching that, or just pouring new wort into the old fermentor (seems as if contamination might be a concern with the latter).

If it matters, the last few Belgians I have brewed have been with Wyeast 3787.

02/09/06 04:01 PM  
Re: Extract recommendation?
>>seems as if contamination might be a concern with the latter<<

Not at all. You make a wort and ferment it out. Then a week later (depending of course with how fermentation went) make another wort that can use the same yeast. You rack the first beer into your secondary carboy or keg just before you are ready to cool the second wort. Then you pour the second wort on the white sludge that has settled at the bottom of the carboy.

The first time I did this was about 10 years ago. I had made a pils then made a second and did as described. That beer turned out to be my first big competition win, it actually bested a beer made by the late/great Dr. George Fix to win best lager in a contest put on by the Brews Brothers out in OR.

The only window of opportunity for contanimation is if you are less than sterile with your racking tube. In fact it greatly reduces the chance of contamination because giving such a large colony of yeast that was so recently chugging away all that new wort energizes it very quickly. In 10 years I have yet to loose a beer to contamination by applying this method.

>>If it matters, the last few Belgians I have brewed have been with Wyeast 3787<<

The exact strain does not matter, what would matter is if you tweeked your timing so those last few Belgians were back to back. Yeast gets stronger every wort generation it lives through. In the mid 90s I took an advanced brewing seminar put on by the AOB. The instructor, who was a professor of brewing at the U or Cal, Davis, actually told that a yeast is not fully expressing itself till the 4th or 5th generation.

02/09/06 04:33 PM  
Re: Extract recommendation?
Thanks for the tip. I'm bottling a triple, a mead, and a white wine this weekend, so I'll have some carboy space freed up for an experiment! (Now just to convince the wife that we need 20 gallons of triple kicking around...)
02/22/06 02:35 AM  
Re: Extract recommendation?
Hey all! Sorry about this likely drive-by posting. I'm writing a newspaper article right now on brewing light colored beer with extracts. If asked, I can post the whole 1200 words here later. Most LMEs are lighter than DMEs. There's something about the process of spray-drying it that darkens DME. Alexanders Pale LME is about the lightest color you can get. DME will usually attentuate less, so LME is better for drier beer, DME for more body. Watch your body though! Add 1# Laaglander (x)Light DME to help. It has the lowest attenuation of extracts--good for body. You can add carapils, aromatic malt, biscuit malt for aroma, body and flavor and still end up with color that's on target for triples and pale strongs. That said, I started all-grain two years ago to get the range and delicacy I just couldn't get via extracts.

Steve's right...yeast is critical. It's the defining character in Belgians. I usually reuse, getting bigger as I go. I make a 1.050-1.060 pale, 1.080 triple/strong, then a monster beer from each yeast pack/tube. A pack is enough for a small beer, but you need LOTS of yeast to cleanly ferment bigger beers.

02/22/06 06:59 AM  
Re: Extract recommendation?
Bill, I'd be happy to put up your article, I appreciate that. I'd rather make a page out of it then post a link to that page in the thread though, if that's OK. 1200 words sounds like a pretty long post!
04/30/06 10:33 AM  
Brew Your Own Golden Beer Using Malt Extract
Brew Your Own Golden Beer Using Malt Extract

By Bill Rogers

It happens to every homebrewer.

You start brewing your own because you’re tired of the same old tasteless commercial beer. You get a few batches under your belt. Your friends and family are impressed with the full-flavored beer you’re producing. But there’ll always be a few who won’t drink your beer because “it’s too dark!” Then you get to thinking … “my beers are all amber colored or darker. I bet I can make a light colored beer with this much flavor!”

And so it begins. You do a lot of experimenting with recipes and procedures. Like many of us starting out, you probably use extracts to brew because it’s fast and easy to use prepackaged malt syrup or powder. So you switch from dark or amber malt extract to light malt extract. That can help, but likely as not your beer may still be amber or copper, not the straw or pale gold color you’re hoping for.

One thing that sets back extract brewers in their search for pale straw colored beer is their choice of extract. Thinking that “light extract is light extract” they choose whatever’s cheapest. Or, many homebrewers choose Northwestern (Brookfield, WI) and Briess (Chilton, WI) brand light dry malt extract (DME) for their malt extract because they are “something special from Wisconsin.” That’s a noble sentiment, and they both make high quality extract.

You can make excellent beers of many styles with Northwestern and Briess DME, but extra light colored styles are not among them. A homebrewer needs to do some research into brands and extract types to really understand the effects they have on beer color.

Malted barley is graded on an SRM color scale, named for the Standard Reference Method used to scientifically analyze the wort or extract created solely from that sample of malt. A low SRM value is a lighter colored beer. Pilsner beers have SRM readings ranging from two to five SRM; stouts like Guiness have SRM readings of 30 to 40 and above.

Here are examples of some types of malted barley, and the SRM ratings associated with them:

Malt Type SRM

CaraPils 1.3-1.8

Canadian 2-row 1.3-1.7

Canadian 6-row 1.4-1.9

US 2-Row 1.4-1.8

US 6-row 1.5-1.9

German 2-row Pils 1.6

German 2-row Lager 1.7

Wheat Malt 1.6-1.8

Pale Ale Malt 3

Vienna Malt 3-5

Light Munich 8-11

Dark Munich 18-22

Caramel Malt 10-120

Chocolate Malt 325-375

Black Malt 475-525

Compare those with the comparable figures for malt extracts:

Malt Extract SRM

Alexander’s Pale LME 2

Munton’s Ext Light LME 3

Munton’s LME 3

Munton’s DME – Light 5

Laaglander Light DME 7

Briess DME Gold 8

Briess DME Amber 8

Generic LME 9

Lighter style beers, such as American Lager, Pilsner, Dortmunder Export, Munich Helles, and Blond Ale, have SRM ratings of two to six. Professional brewers, and those homebrewers who brew solely from grains, formulate recipes using base malt with SRM ratings below three to create those styles. That way they can mix in small quantities of other malts to achieve flavor targets without drastically darkening their beer. Additionally, beer wort darkens as you boil it, further darkening your final product.

As you can see, it’s going to be very difficult to craft a beer with an SRM color below 6 (deep gold) if your DME is five or higher. To make a beer in the two to four SRM range (light straw to light gold) would be impossible.

But, as you can also see, there are liquid malt extracts (LMEs) that could get you within range. Fortunately my local homebrew store, Madison’s Wine and Hop Shop, carries Alexander’s Pale Malt Extract syrup. With an SRM of two, Alexander’s Pale is perfect for an extract-based pilsner or blonde ale.

You can increase an extract beer’s body by using small amounts of extracts or grains that have high amounts of residual sugars. For instance, the body problem can be addressed by adding up to a pound of crushed Briess CaraPils. CaraPils is a type of whole-grain malt that does not require mashing. Its flavor components and unfermentable sugars can be extracted by brewers by soaking in the water you heat for your brew anyway. And, with a color rating of 1.3-1.8 it will not darken your beer.

So, now that we know something of extracts, and the color and body they provide, how do we go about creating a recipe for a light colored homebrew with some body? We’ll leave out the choice of hops for this discussion; though a vital ingredient, they have no meaningful impact on a beer’s color.

Let’s use 5 gallons of all-grain beer wort as our target:

6# Pilsner Malt (SRM 1.6)

1# CaraPils (SRM 1.8)

This results in a sugar solution or sweet wort (after boiling for an hour) with a 1.041 Original Gravity (OG) measurement and an SRM of 2.8.

This grain bill should yield a beer with an ABV (alcohol by volume) of 4.2% and a color of light yellow. The addition of CaraPils will give it some body or mouthfeel too. As a bonus, it helps make a beautiful, white, long-lasting head.

You can get very close to these specs with this extract malt bill:

4# Alexander’s Pale LME (SRM 2)

1# Munton’s Extra Light LME (SRM 3)

1# CaraPils (SRM 2)

This yields 5 gallons of 1.042 OG wort with an SRM of 2.9.

Or this one:

5# Munton’s LME (SRM 3)

1# CaraPils (SRM 2)

This yields 5 gallons of 1.042 OG wort with an SRM 3.1.

These two malt bills get you very close to your target of a full-flavored, pale straw colored homebrew with some body. Note that we haven’t resorted to lightening up the beer color by adding non-barley adjuncts like corn or rice syrup. Adjuncts can also lighten your beer’s body and flavor too, and you want your homebrew to have lots of flavor, don’t you?

Switch to dried malt extract and your beer color moves into the medium yellow range:

5# Munton’s DME – Light (SRM 5)

1# CaraPils (SRM 2)

This yields 5 gallons of 1.042 OG wort with an SRM 4.1.

And, switching to amber malt gets your beer solidly into the amber range:

4# Briess DME Amber (SRM 13)

1# CaraPils (SRM 2)

This yields 5 gallons of 1.042 OG wort with an SRM 7.5.

Let’s look at making something a little stronger, still keeping our color light. Helles bock (or pale bock) beer has color ratings in the 6-11 SRM range. Capital Brewery’s Blonde Dopplebock is a great example of this style. Doubling up on your cans of malt syrup, you get a fermentables bill that looks like this:

8# Alexander’s Pale LME (SRM 2)

Laaglander Light DME (SRM 7)

1# CaraPils (SRM 2)

This yields 5 gallons of 1.071 OG wort with an SRM of 4.6

This color is even lighter than required for the style. So you see, even a pale bock beer is within reach for homebrewers using extract malt.

There is another advantage for homebrewers who use the lightest extract for their base malt. You’ll improve your recipe creation skills by learning how to use specialty malts to add body, color, and flavor. The liquid malt extract you’ve been using very closely emulates the color of a good pilsner or pale malt—the predominant base malts used by professional brewers.

Your choice of malt extract (dry versus liquid; amber versus light) can dramatically impact the final color of your homebrewed beer. If you have friends and family who will only drink straw colored beer you now know how to craft a beer that they’ll drink. Vary your yeast and your hops, and you can find a whole range of flavorful pale beers that you’ll love too!


This article originally appeared in the Sustainable Times newspaper, available throughout much of Wisconsin.


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