How to Brew with Malt Extract and Specialty Grains

These directions are for brewing beer with malt extract and specialty grains. These are beer recipes that use some malted barley grain in addition to malt extract. These beer recipe directions will step you through the process of incorporating these grains into the beer through a steeping process. Please read over the entire directions before beginning to make sure you have everything you need.

1. Sanitize

The first thing that needs to happen before brewing any beer recipe is to clean and sanitize your brewing equipment. Anything that may come in contact with your brew needs to be sanitary.

It is okay to clean the equipment with ordinary dish soap beforehand, but the sanitizing needs to be done with a proper cleanser. Two that we recommend for this job is One-Step and Basic A. Both cleansers require no rinsing and are very easy to use.

2. Steep Grains

Pour 2.5 gallons of clean water into a brew pot (20 quart capacity is ideal) and heat the water to 155°F. - 165°F. Place the malted barley grains into a grain bag and tie a loose knot at the opened end of the bag. The grains need to be crushed, if they haven't be crushed already. Keep the grains as loose as possible within the mesh bag.

Once the water reaches the appropriate steeping range, 155°F.– 165°F., place the grain bag into the 2.5 gallons of water. Let the bag of grains steep for about 20 minutes. It is important to keep the water in this temperature range during this entire time. Do not let it get any hotter. Doing so could result in a hazy beer. A clip-on type dial thermometer works great for this purpose.

After 20 minutes remove the grain bag, and without squeezing , allow the liquid to drain back into your brew pot. Discard the grain. Your mixture will now be referred to as a wort.

3. Start The Boil

Bring the wort to a gentle boil. While stirring, add the malt extract to the boil. Keep stirring the extract until the wort returns to a gentle rolling boil. It is important that you continuously stir while adding the malt extract, otherwise it could get scorched at the bottom of the brew pot.

4. Add Hops

Now it's time to add the hops. Most beer recipes do not tell you to add all the hops as once. Normally, you add some after the wort starts to boil, then some a little later. To accommodate this fact the hops are usually listed in the beer recipe along with their boil times.

You start with the hops that has the longest boil time first. Then add the other hops as their total boil times dictate. Do not boil the wort longer than the longest hop boil time. All hop times will be running concurrently by the time you get to the end of the boil. In other words, have all the hop boil times end together, at the same time.

As an example, if hop "A" has a boil time of 30 minutes, and hop "B" has a boil time of 10 minutes, you would put hop "A" into the boil at the beginning, but you would not put hop "B" into the boil until 20 minutes have past. This will allow hop "B" to be in the boil for the last 10 minutes. Both hops will end their boil time at the same time.

5. Cool Down

Cool down the wort to approx. 70° F. You want to cool it down as quickly as possible. You can do this by placing your brewing pot into a sink filled with ice water. Do not put ice directly into the beer. A wort chiller can also help you to cool the beer wort down more quickly. Once cooled, pour your wort into your previously sanitized fermenter. Try to leave behind any sediment that might be in the bottom of your boiling pot, but get as much liquid as possible.

6. Topping off

Add water to the wort to bring your total batch size up to 5 gallons. Be careful not to exceed 5 gallons as this will throw off your beers intended flavors and styling.

7. Add yeast

Cut open your packet of beer yeast and pour it over the surface of your wort and stir. Fasten the lid onto the fermenter and attach an air lock. Fill the air lock half way with water.

8. Fermentation

Make sure you place the fermenter in a location that you can keep a constant 70°– 75° F. The wort will begin to ferment within 24 hours and you will start to notice bubbles coming through your air lock.

After about 4 – 6 days, the bubbling will slow down and eventually stop. After 48 hours with no bubbling, remove lid and take a hydrometer reading to verify your beer is actually finished fermenting. Your final Specific Gravity reading should be between 1.010 and 1.015. If your hydrometer reading is not in this range, do not bottle. Wait two more days, then take another hydrometer reading. Once the hydrometer reads between the 1.006 and 1.013, then you can bottle. This is called a single-stage fermentation.

Optionally, you can consider doing a two-stage fermentation. This will allow your finished beer to have more clarity, sooner. You will need a second fermenter or carboy. With a two-stage fermentation, when the fermentation slows down — usually around day 5 — transfer the beer into a carboy or another fermenter. Attach the air lock again and allow the fermentation to finish and clear up. This is usually around 7 to 10 more days.

9. Bottling

You will need to sanitize approx. 52 – 12 oz. beer bottles and anything that will come in contact with your beer during the bottling process. After scrubbing out the insides of the beer bottles with a beer bottle brush and dish soap, some people run their bottles through the sanitize cycle of their dishwasher to aid in this process.

During the fermentation the beer produced sediment that is now laying at the bottom of the fermenter. Before bottling you will want to transfer the beer off this sediment into a clean, sanitized container, and then bottle from it.

10. Priming sugar

Once the beer has been transferred, dissolve priming sugar in 2 cups of boiling water in a sauce pan. Once dissolved, add it to the newly transferred beer and stir in thoroughly.

11. Bottle

Fill the beer bottles to about 1" to 3/4" from the brim. Use a bottle capper to apply sanitized bottle caps to each bottle.

12. Conditioning

After all of your bottles have been capped, move them to a warm area between 70°–75°F. for approximately two weeks. This will give the beer time to carbonate and age. It is important that the bottle be at least 70°F. during this period. If they are cooler it will take more time for the beer to become fully carbonated.

13. Enjoy

After 2 weeks of aging, your beer is now ready to be chilled and enjoyed.