Extract Brewing Explained

Homebrew extract kits with specialty grains come with a liquid malt extract, hops and specialty grains. Many homebrewers consider this the best way to get started making beer as it doesn't require a great amount of time, yet making the beer is fun and challenging. With extract kits, homebrewers get to really cook the beer.
Extract kits with specialty grains come in many styles, from light American to Irish stouts. Because every style of beer has it's own hops and hopping schedule, each kit has its own set of instructions.
Specialty grains add flavor and color to beer. They come in a wide range of flavors and colors. The more common ones being crystal malts and dark malts such as chocolate and black patent. Every style of beer has it's own combination of specialty grains, which are steeped at a particular temperature before bringing the water to a boil. Specialty grains must be crushed prior to steeping.
To brew an extract kit with specialty grains, you will need a pot that can hold 3 gallons of water. Follow the basic steps below to make a great tasting beer!

1. First, gather the equipment needed for brew day. You will need a brew pot that can hold at least 3 gallons of water, a fermenting bucket, airlock, and a hydrometer if you want to take readings.


2. If your kit came with a Wyeast liquid yeast, remove it from the fridge and activate it by breaking the nutrient bag that is inside the package. Try to do this 3-5 hours before you pitch your yeast. Other liquid yeast should be brought to room temperature before pitching.


3. Heat 2-3 gallons of water to the temperature specified in the instruction, usually 150°-160°. Place the specialty grains in the muslin bag that is provided in the kit and steep for 30-45 minutes, depending on the recipe. Remove the grains and bring the water to a boil.


4. Add malt extract and stir to dissolve. Bring back to a boil.


5. Add hops according to the hopping schedule. If the kit came with a hop bag, place the hops in the bag. It will help reduce the amount of sludge that is created. Hops are generally considered bittering, flavoring or finishing/aroma hops. They can be the same variety of hop but the amount of time they are boiled determines what kind of hop they are to the recipe. Bittering hops tend to be added at the beginning of the boil. Flavoring hops are added when there is 15 to 30 minutes left in the boil and finishing/aroma hops are added at the end of the boil.


6. While the beer is being brewed, you should sanitize your fermenting bucket, lid, airlock and anything that will come in contact with your beer after it is cooled down.


7. Cool the wort (wort is what we call unfermented beer) as quickly as possible. Placing the brewpot is a sink full of ice water is very effective. Once the wort is cooled to at least 90° (80° is better) pour it into the sanitized fermenting bucket. Add cold water to bring to the desired volume. Most extract kits make 5 gallons of beer (48-50 12oz bottles). Be sure to let the wort splash as you pour to help oxygenate the wort.


8. If you have dry yeast, open the yeast packet and sprinkle on the top of the wort. There is no need to rehydrate the yeast or to stir. The yeast will rehydrate as it sinks into wort. If you have a liquid yeast, gently shake the package and open carefully. Pour intot he wort. There is no need to stir.

9. Place the lid on the fermenting bucket and fill the airlock halfway with water and insert it into the grommet on the lid. You should start seeing activity in you airlock with 12 to 48 hours. This lets you know that your beer has started fermenting. Be sure to ferment at the recommended temperature. Ales typically ferment at room temerature while lagers need to be fermented much cooler, between 45°-55°F. As the beer continues to ferment, the airlock will start showing less and less activity, indicating that the yeast is nearing completion of the fermentation process. The beer is usually finished fermenting in about a week.
10. Once the airlock shows no activity, take a hydrometer reading. Notate the results and take another reading in 3-4 days. If the readings are still changing do no move to the bottling phase. Once you have gone three days without any changes then you are ready to bottle. You will need to sanitize your bottling bucket, racking tube, tubing. bottle filler and bottles. The bottles are easiest to sanitize in the dishwasher using the heated dry cycle. If you do not want to use the dishwasher, a bottle tree is recommended to allow the bottle to drain and dry.

11. At bottling time, a small amount of corn sugar (also called bottling or priming sugar) is added to the beer in order to give the yeast enough food to carbonate your beer in the bottle. For a 5 gallon batch you will need to dissolve 3/4 cup of corn sugar in about a cup of water on the stove. Let it boil for a few minutes to kill any bacteria that may be present. Cool 5 minutes and pour the corn sugar into the bottling bucket.

12. Using the auto-siphon and tubing, transfer the beer from the fermenting bucket to the bottling bucket. The bottling sugar will mix with the beer as it is transferred. 13. Remove the tubing from the racking cane and place it on the spigot that is on the bottling bucket. Attach the bottle filler to the other end of the tubing. The bottle filler has a valve that allows you to fill your bottles without having to stop the flow of beer from bottle to bottle. Open the spigot and place the bottle filler in the beer bottle. Press the filler on the bottom of the bottle to start the flow of beer. Fill the bottles till the beer is about to overflow. When you remove the filler, the amount of volume that is displaced is the proper amount that you need to ensure your beer will carbonate properly.

13. Cap the beer with bottle caps that have been boiled for a few minutes on the stove.


That's all there is to it! Keep your beer stored in a dark space at room temperature for 2 weeks. Before placing all of them in the fridge, cool one down and make sure that the carbonation is satisfactory. If it is, start drinking! If not, let sit another week or so and test again.

Beer will continue to improve for several weeks so if you can muster the willpower, wait a month or two and you will be rewarded.