Extract brewing is the form of brewing used by most new brewers. Extract brewing involves the use of concentrated Malt Extract in the brewing process. The use of malt extract lets the brewer skip the mashing process, and move directly to the boil and fermentation steps. Extract brewing takes considerably less time and equipment than All Grain brewing. In extract brewing, Malt Extract is added directly to the brew pot and boiled together with Hops to create a sweet liquid called wort for fermenting. You can make very high quality beer using extract brewing, but it does not offer the full range of ingredient and process variations that are possible with All Grain brewing.
Extract Brewing Steps
The extract brew process includes the following steps:
- Water is added to a brew pot and heated
- Specialty whole grains may be steeped in either the main brew pot (or a separate pot) to add color, flavor and body. See the heading on steeping grains below.
- Liquid malt extract or dry extract is added to the water to form a sweet wort
- Hops are added, and the wort is boiled for 45-90 minutes
- Cold water is added to bring the volume up and the wort is cooled to room temperature as quickly as possible
- Yeast is added, and the beer ferments for 7-14 days
- Priming sugar is added to the finished beer and it is bottled or kegged for consumption
Extract brewers often steep specialty grains (such as caramel or roasted malts) before the boil to add color, flavor and body to the beer. Similar to mashing, steeping adds fermentable sugars to the brew, and the addition of steeped grains can provide a large variety of flavors and colors to your extract brew. The steeping process is done before the boil. Grains are typically put in a steeping bag and immersed in the brewing water. Alternatively they can be steeped in a separate pot while the main boil is being prepared. The water is raised to 150-170F (65-75C) and held for 30 minutes. Unlike mashing though, keeping the temperature constant is not as important for steeping, as there is no enzyme activity occurring with specialty grain. The grain bag is then removed, and malt extract and hops added to the resulting tea to continue with the normal extract boiling process. Be aware that not all grains are suitable for steeping. Many malts like pale malt, munich malt, wheat malts, some specialty malts as well as most flaked ingredients must be mashed to impart their full body and flavor.