Step by step instruction to small batch liquid extract brewing
The simplicity of using liquid extract for making beer at home makes it the ideal way to make your first beer. It is also a great way to experiment with a variety of ingredients due to the quick and easy method of beer making it entails.
A liquid extract brewing day can take as little as an hour and a half from getting the tools out to sitting down and having a celebratory beer after everything is cleaned and put away. Many times,though, it feels like this method of brewing is considered “lesser” compared to the more sophisticated brewing techniques out there such as BIAB and All Grain. It is true that introducing grains to the brewing method gives great depth to a beer, but use the liquid extract malt right, and it will result in a great beer.
I personally started with liquid malt and still use it to the day, probably more than any other method. It is a great tool to learn much about the ingredients in a beer and their part in the beer’s flavours since the liquid malt extract is pretty consistent in flavour and characteristics. I recommend using non-hopped malt extract.
Another great reason to use liquid malt extract is the fact that it is essentially a condensed wort and so doesn’t need a long boil. Worts are usually boiled for at least an hour, but with liquid malt you can boil for as little as 15 minutes, which means saving 45 minutes on a brew day. When I do a “short boil” I usually go for 30 minutes, I find that is just enough for me.
To the brew day:
1. Get everything out and clean all your tools. Think about all the tools you might need and clean them too. Nothing is worse than getting stuck with a vigorously boiling wort and a missing tool.
2. Plan the recipe for the day and make sure you have the ingredients. There is no point in starting the boil and finding that you are missing hops…. Once you have it all, pre-measure it and set it up to add quickly; if you are doing a short boil things move pretty fast.
3. Start boiling water. Starting the wort with boiled water makes the process even faster. I use the electric kettle.
4. Make the yeast mix early on to start working. Yeast needs to grow, and the more yeast you have when it meets the sugars in the wort, the quicker they work. Sometimes a slow fermentation is good (like with lagers), but you want to make sure your yeast is a live and running. I use a packet of yeast (11g) for a 8-10 litres batch (around 2 gallons). The yeast is mixed with 12g of dextrose (for food) and dissolved in water in the appropriate temperature (check on the yeast’s package for information).
5. Start the boil and add the hops as intended. If you want to increase the potential gravity of the beer, the extra sugars need to go in at the start of the boil. You can use any of my brewing day recipes to understand the hops addition process.
6. Set a place for an ice bath (I use the kitchen sink) and when the wort has finished after 15-60 minutes, move your pot straight to the ice bath. Don’t stir vigorously or allow any water in, the idea is to bring the wort down to 27°c so oxygen can be introduced.
7. When you reached a 27°c wort, filter out all the hops and move it into the fermenter. Add the yeast and more water according to what you want to achieve. Don’t add too much water or it will dilute the sugars too much and reduce the gravity, leaving you with a very low ABV beer. A simple rule of thumb is to add an equal amount of water to the amount of wort you made, test the gravity and adjust from there.
8. Check that the gravity is all good, seal the fermenter and put in a place that is 22-25°c (for ales).
9. I like dry hopping in beer and after a week add them to the fermenter and let them sit for another week or so.
And that is it, you have a beer fermenting. Clean it all up before your wife sees the mess and pop open a beer from one of your older batches.
Do you think this will be enough to get a move on? If you live in the UK, you can even pick up a quick shopping list and give it a go this weekend, let me know how it came out.