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> Extract Brewing 101, contributed by Godsmaq
cj in j
post May 8 2005, 03:30 AM
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Making Extract Better
contributed by Godsmaq

Q: I want to make good beer without the major expense of all-grain brewing. Do you have any suggestions for me?
A: Below are some tips I've gathered throughout this forum, the Internet, and from a few books on ways to improve extract batches.

Before You Brew
-- Read How to Brew by John Palmer or at least read his streamlined online book at How to Brew.
-- Spend time reading and asking question on BrewBoard's Beer Forum and by reading the FAQs. You can also get great information by using the search feature of the forum to find the topics you are interested in reading about.
-- Sanitation techniques are extremely important. You should be sanitizing everything that is going to come within contact with your wort. You should also consider using a sanitizer such as Star San, that doesn't require rinsing (your tap water could have some nasties in it).
-- Insure you are purchasing the freshest and highest quality dry malt extract (DME) or liquid malt extract (LME), grains, hops, and yeast possible. It's a good idea to purchase ingredients from a supplier that has good turnover of their supplies.
-- Some people suggest using DME over LME. DME has a longer shelf life and less of a chance to go bad since it is dry.
-- To start, buy beer recipe kits (pre-prepared beer recipes) from knowledgeable and reputable sources such as HBA's Recipe Kits.
-- Do not use canned kits that suggest adding sugar. You'll get better and fresher beer by using beer recipe kits that contain fresh DME or LME, specialty grains, hops, and yeast.
-- Using good clean water without excessive mineral content or chlorine is important. If you don't know if your tap water is good or not, use spring (not distilled) bottled water for brewing (or get your water tested).
-- Use the quality liquid yeast that is suggested for your recipe and beer style. Consider preparing a yeast starter for better fermentation especially for higher gravity beers. If you are going to use a yeast starter do a search within this forum for "yeast starter" and "blow off tube."
-- If you are using dried yeast it should rehydrated prior to pitching. You can do this by adding the yeast to warm water (95-105F). You should use two 7-gram packets (or one 11-gram or larger packet) to insure you are pitching enough yeast.
-- If your equipment allows, boil more than the 2-3 gallons most of the recipe directions suggest. Boil the full 5 gallons to achieve better results (some folks boil 5.5 or 6 gallons to compensate for evaporation during boiling and beer lost from testing). A full boil will help reduce extract caramelization.

While Brewing
-- Steep specialty grains pre-boil in a grain bag or muslin bag. These grains should be steeped in 150-155F water for 30 minutes. Avoid squeezing the bag after you steep the grains -- this may release tannins into your brew, which is most definitely not a good thing.
-- Add most or perhaps even all of the extract later during the boil rather than at the beginning. This will reduce the chance of caramelization. I've been adding mine broken down in equal parts at 15, 30 and 45 minutes during a 60 minute boil. You still need to boil for the full amount of time so that the hop bitterness is extracted. There is some concern that boiling hops in plain water without adding any extract will greatly reduce bitterness. Therefore, it is better to add at least some of your extract at or near the beginning of the boil. [Note: If you are using prehopped extract, it will be necessary to boil all of your for the length of time recommended on the can. Otherwise you risk having a very lightly hopped beer.]
-- Take the kettle off the heat when adding extract and insure the extract is thoroughly mixed prior to putting kettle back on the burner. This helps to avoid scorching and excess caramelization. A lower boil, rather than an intense boil, may also be beneficial.
-- Stir you wort often to insure you're not allowing the wort to caramelize on the bottom of the kettle.

Post Brewing
-- Use a wort chiller to bring your temp down as quickly as possible to 70F for pitching your yeast. If you are doing 5-gallon boils, you will absolutely need a wort chiller because of the volume of liquid you need to chill.
-- If you are doing partial boils (2-3 gallons), you should still cool your wort with either a wort chiller or by placing your pot in ice water before adding the wort to the carboy and topping off with water. Pouring hot wort on to cold water into the carboy may cause oxidization of your wort. Hot wort is susceptible to oxidation from aeration until it is under 90F.
-- Once the wort is below 90F, aeration of the wort will help introduce oxygen for the yeast and help insure complete fermentation. This can be achieved by 'splashing' the wort while siphoning, pouring into the carboy, and/or shaking/swirling the wort in the carboy. It's also possible to use an aquarium pump and aeration stone to oxygenate the wort even more.
-- Watch your fermentation temps and try to keep them consistent throughout fermentation. Also go online and find out what temperatures the yeast manufacture suggest and try to target the suggested temp.
-- Take notes to capitalize on your successes and failures.
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