Monday, February 9, 2009

All-Grain to Extract & Recipe Conversion

I was asked by a reader about converting a recipe from all-grain to extract with steeped specialty malts. Since I am primarily an all-grain brewer, I figure it would be helpful to provide a resource of conversion here.

Steeping Specialty Malts

Specialty malts give your extract beer it's color, character, and added freshness. You can literally steep just about any malt, if you wanted, cause in home brewing you can try anything. However, there are some malts require a proper mash to convert the starches to sugars, like base malts and pretty much any one that's not kilned moist or roasted. Malts like crystal/caramel, roasted, toasted, aromatic and carapils can simply be steeped to release their rich flavors and aromas.

I recommend steeping all specialty malts in a 2-3 ply cheese cloth or special grain bag. This could be done with about 2 qt/lb at 145-165°F water for about 30-55 minutes. A low heat should be applied to keep the temp from falling. I like to periodically squeeze the bag(s) to get hot water circulating within, and this also keep the wort from getting too hot. Then, using hot water from a full tea/water kettle, pour through the grain bags & squeeze out all the malty goodness in intervals. I like to use a mounted colliander over the pot to hold the grain bag while pressing into it.

Sort-of off topic, but to continue with the procedure... pour in enough water to get your preferred pre-boil volume. Boil for about an hour with your bittering hops. Add all other hop additions at their specified times. Malt extract can be added at any point between 30 minutes and the end of the boil. It's probably beneficial to experiment with various extract boiling times to see where the malt profile is most enhanced. In the process of making extract, the producer has already boiled their wort long enough, so there is no need to do it again. Finally chill the wort to a certain point, and add it with pre-chilled bottled water, topping off the fermenter.

Malt Extract

There are several brands of malt extracts to choose from, and most are probably worth trying out. You can choose between the liquid/syrup or dried versions. They come in light, pale, amber and dark.

For my recipes, I would recommend using pale extract for the majority, if not all, the fermentables. In this case the steeped character malts provide all the color and specialized flavors, and wouldn't really account for much sugar (see the small table below for gravity points for a lb of each malt). Though my experience is severely limited, I personally prefer Alexander's Pale liquid malt extract or Briess pale dried malt extracts for the base. I suppose small amounts of amber, dark or wheat extracts could enhance the flavor and color of your beer as well.

When converting an all-grain recipe to extract & steeps, swap out the base malts for your malt extract(s) of choice. I wont get into knit-picky details because you'll see links below to sources that spell it out in more detail. However, in general, you will multiply the base grain by a percentage (%) to get your pounds of extract.

Liquid Extract = .75 x Base #
Dry Extract = .6 x Base #

Beyond Barley

There are other malted grain extracts available. Among them are Wheat, Sorghum, Brown Rice & Tapioca. Since Wheat malt wont provide much of anything in your steep, other than starches and proteins, its best to use a portion of wheat malt extract in the base recipe. Also, gluten free beers can be made.

More informational sources...

BYO: "Extract to All-Grain and Back"
All About Beer by Ray Daniels: "Extract Conversion"
BeerSmith: "Converting All-Grain Recipes to Extract"

Thank you for visiting
Hope this is helpful
Feel free to add comments


Adam said...

Great post :-) Always nice to see brewing from another perspective. I've never brewed all grain.

Dowzer said...

Agreed, I have yet to attempt all grain brewing but I have begun experimenting with using just dry malt and leaving out the liquid which so far seems to yield a great beer for a bit of a cheaper price.

Keep it up Ted, love reading the blog.

Jason said...

Great article ted. I just re-wrote an all-grain recipe to an extract with grains to brew this past weekend with a friend. Instead of doing it the scientific way, i just did a bunch of trial and error in tasty brew. this will definitely help me in the future though.


Starlight Seraph said...

Awesome post. I haven't been brave enough to get into all-grain brewing yet, but have seen a lot of all-grain recipes I want to try. This is a good way for me to make extract-based versions.


Unknown said...

Ken Schwartz did a fantastic paper back in 1998 about converting All Grain Recipes to Extract / Partial Mash. Ted - I'm happy to provide you with a copy if you want to upload it to the site.

Cheers, Mark B.