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HOMEBREWING


Extract Conversion

As you look through homebrew recipes listed both here and in other sources, you will occasionally find recipes that use no extract -- only grain. While you may not be ready to take up all-grain brewing quite yet, you can still copy these successful recipes. All you have to do is convert some or all of the base grain into extract.

Every all-grain recipe includes base grain plus some specialty grains. Base grain is the stuff that makes up the majority of the recipe - usually pale ale malt, pilsener malt or 2-row malt. Specialty grains are used in small quantities to add flavor, color or body to the beer. Examples of specialty grains include things like crystal or caramel malt, chocolate malt, roast barley and oats.

To convert an all-grain recipe for extract brewing, we will focus on the base malt. You can substitute your favorite brand of light or golden unhopped malt extract for some or all of this grain. The conversion factor is slightly different for liquid extract than for dry extract, but the procedure is the same.

To convert an all-grain recipe for extract brewing, we will focus on the base malt. You can substitute your favorite brand of light or golden unhopped malt extract for some or all of this grain. The conversion factor is slightly different for liquid extract than for dry extract, but the procedure is the same. For every pound of base malt taken out, you will need to add less than a pound of extract. With syrup extracts, you'll add 0.75 pound for every pound of grain removed. For dry extracts, you'll need 0.6 pound for every pound of grain.

Let's try an example to see how this works. Assume that we find the following grain bill for a pale ale:

8 lbs pale ale malt
lb crystal malt
0.5 lb toasted malt
If we replace all of the pale ale malt with liquid extract, we need to multiply 8 pounds by the conversion factor of 0.75. Thus, 6.0 pounds of liquid extract could be used instead of the pale ale malt.

If dry extract were used, we would multiply by 0.6 rather than 0.75. Thus, 4.8 pounds of dry extract could be substituted for the 8 pounds of pale ale malt.

Ideally, you want to use as much actual grain as possible in each recipe in order to produce the best possible flavor. If you have a grain bag that holds three pounds of grain, you might routinely make beers that contain all of the recommended specialty malts plus as much base malt as will fit in your bag. For instance, for the pale ale recipe above, we have one pound of specialty malts, so we could include up to two pounds of pale ale malt in our grain bag. Under this plan, we would only need to substitute extract for 6 pounds of the base malt. Using our calculations, we can see that this would require 6 pounds x 0.75 = 4.5 pounds of liquid extract or 6 pounds x 0.6 = 3.6 pounds of dry extract.

Grain to extract substitution chart

If you find the calculations difficult, just use this chart:

Pounds of	Pounds of Extract     
Grain		Liquid		Dry
1.0		0.75		0.6
1.5		1.13		0.9
2.0		1.50		1.2
2.5		1.88		1.5
3.0		2.25		1.8
3.5		2.63		2.1
4.0		3.00		2.4
4.5		3.38		2.7
5.0		3.75		3.0
5.5		4.13		3.3
6.0		4.50		3.6
6.5		4.88		3.9
7.0		5.25		4.2
7.5		5.63		4.5
8.0		6.00		4.8
8.5		6.38		5.1
9.0		6.75		5.4
9.5		7.13		5.7
10.0		7.50		6.0
Additional Notes on Using Extract

Those who are just beginning to brew will quickly learn that beers made with malt extracts have slightly different characteristics compared to beers made directly from malt. To make excellent beers using extracts, you'll need to keep in mind a few tips.

The total portion of the base malt that you can replace with extract depends upon the beer style. A light colored beer like a Munich helles that relies on malt for the primary flavor component will not tolerate much extract. To get both the color and the flavor required for good results, you will need the vast majority of the total extract to come from a grain mash.

As the target color of the beer gets darker, it can generally sustain larger proportions of extract without detrimental effects. The same is true of beers where hops or spices are the primary flavor component. Good hoppy American pale ales for instance, can be quite good when made from a recipe that contains a large amount of extract. Also, beer with strong yeast-derived flavors such as weizen can be made well with a larger portion of extract than grain.

A perfect place to use extract is in the production of high gravity beers. Almost any beer with an intended original gravity above 1.060 (15 deg P) can incorporate some extract without any detrimental effects. When you review winning recipes for styles like doppelbock and barley wine, it is unusual to find one that does not include extract. These recipes usually start with a regular mash of about ten pounds of grain to get the gravity up to 1.050 or so, then rely on the extract to provide the rest. Using this technique, even brewers with a relatively modest mashing capability can produce very good high-gravity beers.

-- Ray Daniels


© 1996 Chautauqua Inc.