Homebrewing with Extract January 30 2023, 0 Comments

Have you ever had a homebrew that was made with malt extract that just seemed too dark for the style, had an unanticipated caramel flavor, or just had that "extract tang"? While these things don't have to ruin a beer or your enjoyment of it, it would be nice to avoid these issues. Today we're going to talk about a couple ways you can improve your homebrews made with malt extract.

Shorten the Boil

Since a typical extract boil has a much higher gravity, thus concentration of sugar, than a typical all-grain boil, the wort will darken with an extended boil. So if you shorten the boil to 30 minutes, you can keep the color lighter and reduce the caramelly "extract tang" that can sometimes be found in homebrew.

A 30 minute boil should still be long enough to sanitize the wort, boil out proteins from the wort, and boil off the pre-cursors to DMS. To compensate for the shortened boil time, we recommend adjusting your bittering hop addition upward a little bit. We have transitioned all of the extract kits we sell to 30 minute boils.

Add Some Extract Later in the Boil

If you do want to do a full 60 minute boil, we recommend adding adding about a third of the extract at the beginning of the boil, boil for 50 minutes, turn off the heat, stir in the rest of the extract, bring the wort back to a boil, and finish the 60 minute boil.

Because you are boiling a more dilute wort, you will avoid excessive caramelization (keeping the color lighter and reducing the caramel flavor) and get better utilization from your hops.

Full Boil

Doing a full boil, where you start (for 5 gallon batches) with more like 6.5 or 7 gallons and boil it down to 5.25ish gallons of wort at the end. This mimics what you would be doing in an all-grain batch. Because it is a more diluted wort, it helps avoid caramelization and increases your hop utilization. The downside is that you will need a powerful burner and a wort chiller (since you will not be topping up with cold water).

Heavy Duty Kettle

A tri-clad, stainless steel kettle will disperse heat much more evenly than a thin, more economy-style kettle, which will lead to less scorching and caramelization.

Avoid Excessively Vigorous Boil

You just need a nice easy, rolling boil. It does not have to be a violent, turbulent boil. Keeping your boil in check will not only help avoid caramelization, but will also avoid boiling off some of the aromatics of the malt and hops that you want in your beer.

For more tips and tricks, check out our Knowledge Base