Malt Extract – An Easy Way for a Good Beer
Malt extract is something anyone who has dabbled in home brewing will be familiar with. It is the way most people start their brewing because its so accessible, limiting the amount of equipment needed to get your first beer made.
If you have ever handled malt extract it will be in one of two forms. A liquid extract which is a thick brown sticky syrup or as a dried malt extract. If you go into any homebrew shop you will be able to pick up either of these products.
Malt Extract Makes Brewing Quicker and Easier
The great thing about malt extract is that it knocks off around 3-4 hours of the brewing process. A large part of the process is knocked off because in essence the mashing part of the brewing has been done for you. Malt extract is basically the end product of the mash that has been concentrated down into a syrup or completely dried out in an oven or vacuum. This means you don’t need to buy a mash tun and brew all grain so in effect half of the process has been cut out of the brew day all the fermentable sugars that are created in the mashing process are already in the malt extract.
Malt Extract in Beer Kits
When you buy a beer kit this is usually what you will be getting in it. You will sometimes have one or two cans of liquid extract with the other flavourings such as hops already added so by mixing this with hot water to the correct quantity you are diluting the extract to what you would have at the end of the mash and then you are ready to add yeast and get the fermentation underway.
This is I think why beer kits are so popular with new home brewers. You can make a batch of home brew real quick and for a fraction of the cost of buying beer in the shops.
Malt Extract and Speciality Grains
You can also take your brewing a step further and add certain speciality grains that can add an extra depth or character to the finished beer. These grains are those that do not require conversion which takes place in the mash. These speciality grains includes crystal malt, chocolate malt, black malt roast barley and pale malt. There is more detail on brewing with speciailty grains here.
Even all grain brewers can utilize malt extract. I myself am limited on the amount of grains that can be mashed because of the size of the mash tun I use. If I want to make a high gravity (% ABV) beer, malt extract can replace a portion of the grain to save room in the mash tun.
Types Of Malt Extract Available
There are a few varieties of malt extract available, as I said before it comes in either dry or liquid form. Both of these are essentially the same thing and you can substitute one for another in any recipe. Bear in mind though but if you pick up a recipe that uses 2.5kg of liquid malt extract, you will need to use less dry malt extract.
Liquid Malt Extract is 20% water so for example if your recipe states 2.5kg of liquid malt extract you would need 2.08kg of dry malt extract
Malt extract also comes in varying colors usually in the range of extra light to dark with amber in the middle. Obviously you can chop and change according to the color of your final beer.
Lastly, you can also get wheat malt extract and rye malt extract so this adds further scope for making a wide variety of home brew beer. Being able to pick and choose is one of the great benefits of using malt extract and a great way to get started with home brewing in general.