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> Extracts 101, Guide to Liquid and Dry Extracts
cj in j
post Oct 18 2005, 07:42 AM
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Extracts 101
Contributed by dave76 and the BrewBoard Family

Most beginning homebrewers start out brewing with extracts, either liquid malt extract (LME) or dry malt extract (DME). While extract brewing is generally more simple, the extract brewer is still faced with myriad choices that can be confusing. This FAQ is designed to provide information to make those choices easier.

Q: What is the gravity of LME and DME?
A: LME will yield an average of 35 gravity points per pound per gallon. DME, on the other hand, comes in at 44 points per pound per gallon.

Q: That's all good and nice, but how can I convert from liquid to dry or dry to liquid?
A: If you have a recipe that specifies DME, multiply the amount by 1.25 to get the necessary amount of LME. To convert from LME to DME, divide by 1.25.

Q: What about freshness?
A: Fresh is best, no matter what ingredients you're using. In general, DME keeps longer than LME, so if you're planning on keeping your extract around for a while, DME is probably the better choice.

Store your DME in an air-tight container, and keep it cool and dry. It's preferable not to store DME in the fridge because when you take it out, moisture will condense on it and turn it into a solid rock!

LME should be used as soon as possible. If you store it for any length of time, in the fridge is better. Some homebrewers report that canned LME gives beer a stale or metallic flavor, but if the LME is fresh, you shouldn't have this problem. Many homebrew shops sell bulk LME, which the pour out as it is used. If the bulk LME is handled properly (for example, stored in nitrogen-flushed containers or sold very quickly once a container is opened), it will be in good shape when you get it. But LME goes stale as quickly as bread when exposed to any kind of air/oxygen.

In conclusion, buy the freshest extract that you can possibly find, no matter what kind you buy.

Q: Tell me a little bit about the different colors of malt extract.
A: There are more choices of color with LME. There are only four choices with DME: Extra light, Light, Dark, and Amber, while LME offers those along with pilsner extract, Munich extract and many others.

In general it is recommended to use the lightest extract available and get your darker colors from steeping specialty grains, like crystal malts and roasted malts. This yields a better flavor in the finished beer as well as giving you more control over your own brewing.

Note: Additions to this FAQ are welcome. Send a PM to cj in j with your suggestions and comments.
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