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Brewing TV - Episode 28: Back to Basics

Original postdate: January 14, 2011

- Double stove-top extract brew session
- Tasting Notes X 2
- Thoughts on extract brewing

We begin 2011 by getting back to the basics - stovetop extract brewing. There ain't no shame in our game! And because Jake is completely out of homebrewed goodness at his house, the boys are making two beers at once. Jake is brewing a German Alt. Dawson has something special up his sleeve - a session-fied Cascadian Dark Ale. Three dudes. Two burners. One heck of a time looking at ways to get the most out of your extract brewing experience.

Related Links

German Alt beer kit

Sustainor and other Limited Edition Kits: The Nontradition Series VIDEO

Homebrewing 101: Getting Started instructional DVD from Northern Brewer demonstrates homebrewing with extract and specialty grains for beginners. The hosts might look familiar to you.


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Reader Comments (37)

I see that you guys are using Star-San on your wort chiller, rather than boiling the chiller for, say, the last few minutes of the boil. Do you guys have a good rationale for why one is better than the other? Now that I've seen you do this, it gives me pause. It can't bee good for the flavor to boil copper in your beer...

January 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLary Tate

Love the explanation and demo of re-using Star San. That is the same way I do it. You save money and water, AND get a fast, effective, no-rinse sanitizer. Why not?!

Your thoughts on why extract is sort of looked down upon do not reflect my experience. I practiced great sanitation and cleanliness from the outset. My extract beers were great. However, my all grain beers are even better because I think the all-grain process affords a better, more pure, more authentic (or more like commercial brewery/brewpub results) beer. I'm not saying every brewer has to progress from extract to all grain, but I think there is a reason that people who have gone all grain don't normally go back to extract (unless they just want a shorter/easier brew day from time to time). I realize there is no right or wrong answer on this topic, just different opinions.

How did that fresh hop red rye kinda beer turn out? It would be fun if you would do 1 min tasting updates on beers you make. That would helps us connect the dots on the different ingredients and techniques and then the results you get. You tasted the Ewok this time which I liked, and prompted that comment.

"Did you brew to style?" "Ah..... no." Was there more there? That was a quick edit!

Extract twang. Fun topic. :) I too have never experienced that. My extract beers were always clean. I always suspected inadequate cleaning and sanitation were the cause, thus leading to some kind of off flavor construed as "twang." By the time one is brewing all grain, he probably is more motivated to do a complete thorough job of everything. You can't just easily make all grain beer (like you can with extract) so someone advancing to that stage hopefully has all aspects together.

"I'm getting my folk proverbs wrong..."

Nice, simple focused episode. Hope those beers turn out.

January 14, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdon o

Good to see you guys back at it. Might have to buy that CDA kit... looks interesting.

January 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJames B.

I don't know-- I went straight to All-Grain because I felt like I would be cheating myself out of the whole brewing experience going with extract.

I've wanted to brew for years, so when I finally bought a house I just dove in headfirst. Sure, a few mistakes were made! But I feel that as long as you know what you're doing, it's not THAT much more involved than extract brewing. People say extract "is a good way to get your feet wet" in the world of homebrewing. And while I accept that notion at face value, I still think it more or less only hastily grants you decent beer at jacked up prices. It doesn't really teach you how to mash and all(-grain) that jazz, so when you eventually DO move to All-Grain, you're essentially just as knowledgeable as someone who has been well read on the basics of brewing, but has yet to made beer.

In conclusion, while I would never put down the extract process, I feel you need to go All-Grain to really get that sense of accomplishment that makes you feel like a real brewer.

And I too use a chicken to time my boils. Hurrah to the mighty cock!

January 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPJ

Was your topoff water unboiled? I thought I caught you say it was tap water. If so, you've not had any issues from that?

January 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

I keep my starsan in an old keg that had a broken handle. that way it's on pressure for dispensing out of a picnic (cobra) tap. Plus i can refill my spray bottle for hosing down bits and pieces and tubing easily. Plus I'm always assured the starsan is good and doesn't have any contaminants in it like you might get from a bucket.
Even if you don't have PH strips, the 5 star guys say that if the starsan goes cloudy it's time to throw it out. or if it stops foaming when you use it.

Copper in your boil is actually a good thing according to the brewing scientists. Some people consider it a myth, but the tests have proven it affects your wort composition in a positive way for yeast health. I would have to look up the information but I believe it was Palmer that mentioned it in a brew strong episode. Correct me if I'm incorrect please readers.

Extract isn't a problem as long as you make sure it's fresh. Old stale cans are bad, just like using fresh ingredients in cooking you will end up with good beer.

Aww, my name is BrewingTV's catchphrase for the CDA argument, Thanks Jake! :)

January 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrett Silver Begani

Great episode. I love you guys went back to basics for us guys that still are getting into the game. I would love to see episodes like this working all the way from racking into secondary to bottling and kegging, etc.

So did anything every break out between the dog and the cat?? lol Awesome footage Chip.

January 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDuck

When I got back into brewing last year I went to extract so I didn't have to shell out too much cash too early, but I'll be moving to all-grain very soon for two important reasons.
1 - living in the UK means that you can get hold of really good quality pale, amber and wheat LME and DME but that's it. There's no speciality LME that I see stocked at Northern Brewer, so we're really limited to what we can brew to style with extract and steeping. Want to brew something interesting to style, it's got to be all-grain.
2 - extract is false economy, the LME is so expensive that after a few brews the overall cost stacks up and the extra initial cost of all-grain kit starts to look cheap.
I'm sure I'll still drop back to extract when time is a factor but, all-grain here I come.

January 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCrezzer

Is that a signed Babe Winklemann photo on the ghost door????? Awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!

January 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAaron

Great comments guys! Glad we are drumming up some discussion about extract, and it's place within the spectrum of brewing good beer.
@Aaron - indeed, it is Babe...for the back story - http://20acrecarcass.blogspot.com/2011/01/babe.html

all for brew, brew for all!

January 14, 2011 | Registered CommenterBrewing TV

Oh Keeler that's awesome. P.S. I think my Extract brews are just as goos as a lot of friends all grains. as long as the ingredients are fresh and everything I think your good to go. The guy who posted about the money thing has a point though...

January 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAaron

Another kick ass BTV. Don't ever stop. Can't wait to see the Brewing Network Episodes. BTV and BN are a marraige made in heaven. Rock on Northern Brewer and BTV!

January 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew

Asked and now I have received. After posting a request for something similar on the NB forum, here it is in video format. Love the content and the Little bear session CDA recipe, already put it into brewpal and can't wait to order it up after I drink my 3.5 gallon batch of Brett Begani's Dark Stone extract w/ grains CDA. Great show, and keep them coming fellas.

January 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDuckmanco

Great episode, guys. I have been extract brewing for a little over a year and have been very happy with the results. I simply don't have time for all grain--busy job and 3 little ones. I totally agree that when you pay attention to sanitation and fermentation conditions you can make an excellent product with extract. Sometimes I think the people who argue the most for all grain's superiority are the types of people who are in it to have the best stuff, think they're pros, and just want to feel cool, rather than being in it for the statisfaction of brewing your own beer. The same thing happens with fishing or whatever hobby/sport you get into. I think you just have to do what works for your life and ignore the hype. Thanks for all of your work and thanks to NB for putting out great products.

January 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJM

Great show guys,

I'm definitely not a chemist and although I haven't brewed extract in a while, I never had a "twang" in my beer. That said, is it possible that when boiling at greater gravities (like you would with extract), that more melanoidins are produced with the combination of the extract and steeping grains so close to the heat source, giving you an apparent "twang".

Whatever the hell a "twang" is anyways.

Just wanted to hear everyone's thoughts.

January 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew

A nice relaxed show. I have come to really look forward to brewing and watching this show while I brew. I haven't done an extract batch in a long while. Maybe the Sustainor! Keep up the good work.

January 15, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterynotbrusum

Drinking my Northern Brewer Chocolate Milk Stout extract now. Tastes like magic. Hold you head high fellow extract brewers. Take comfort when you've finished your brew day clean up, all the while our all-grain comrades are still facing a few hours of labor (or labour).

Keep up the good work.

January 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJohnnyB

Great work guys..
I do both AG and Extract.. I live in GA and as soon as the summer hits the heat and flys make AG a pain in the rear.. In the Summer it is extrac and Fall-Spring it is mainly AG..

Keep up the good work and the shows..

January 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTmh

Great episode, especially for us new and inexperienced brewers, still going extract. thanks for all the great info all last year.

January 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKarl P Rosenzweig I

The best lambic I've ever brewed was 100% extract. After a couple of hundred batches, I've learned that 60% wheat makes for a tough lauter. Wheat extract totally solves that problem. Extract definitely has its place in every homebrewers bag of tricks!

January 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChris Bushman

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