Tips for Making Better Extract Beers

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Before the brew    During the Brew After the Brew

Before the Brew



Treat as two discrete processes. Take your time with both and don’t rush it.


Understand your choices: Use the right amount of dilution and make sure that the products don’t leave trace flavors that can mess up your beer


Star San:

Works in 30 seconds

Stable for up to 3 months in RO water

(Dispose when ph rises above 2.09)

No rinse necessary – residual won’t hurt your beer

Other common cleansers and sanitizers:

Generally avoid anything abrasive on plastic

Note that idopher and star-san are the only two that don’t require rinsing. Rinse thoroughly if need be.

Keep a bucket and/or spray bottle of your favorite product on hand, and if in doubt use it.


Shoot for fresh ingredients from a reliable seller. This is especially important with yeast (check your dates) and LME (Liquid Malt Extract) but also with DME (Dried Malt Extract) and steeping grains.

Old LME will taste stale and soapy due to oxidation

Ignore call for major amounts of household sugars in recipes: Consider using DME rather than corn or cane sugar. Simple sugars contain very little Free Amino Nitrogen, which  means less nutrition for your yeast.

If yeast comes with your kit only use it if it’s dated and name branded. Consider an upgrade to a quality liquid yeast.

Use pale DME as base malt and achieve color, flavor, and mouthfeel for steeping grains.

Check the alpha acid content of our hops and adjust as necessary for the correct IBUs

Consider malto-dextrine to improve mouthfeel if required.


Bring home yeast cold, keep it in fridge.

The enemies to hops are heat, light, and oxygen. Freezing you hops will allow them to remain viable up to 4x as long because it eliminates light and heat. Vacuum sealing will help keep oxygen from degrading them.

Store DME in the dark

Brew Day


Extract brewing generally does not require the chemical adjustments all grainers have to take into account in the mashing process, but this doesn’t mean you can ignore water entirely. At the very least a good carbon filter in the supply source will help flavor and make sure you don’t get any dreaded ‘hose’ taste.

Avoid using RO water, as this depletes the mineral supply, which the yeast needs. Never use distilled water.

Consider a 1/2-hour pre boil to minimize temporary hardness.

Avoids salts, even to emulate cities, as those are primarily to affect mash PH.

If, and only if, you notice something consistently lacking in a given recipe, John Palmer recommends experimentation with the  following:


Chloride (These two can round out an accentuate sweetness of your beer)

Sulfates (Accentuates crispness from hops)


Consider Hydrating dry yeast prior to pitching: Add boiled (thus sanitized) water that has cooled to (95-105).

Do a starter for liquid yeast: 5 days before brew is ideal, Do a starter, especially if your starting gravity of  greater than 1050. Consider yeast nutrient.

Oxygenate your yeast, after pitching: Oxygen is very important for your yeast in the early stages of fermentation. If your yeast do not get enough oxygen, it will become stressed. Stressed yeast produce off flavors.


Suspend your steeping grains in the middle of your wort. (Having an extra spoon helps for this.  DOn’t let the bag sit on the hot bottom where the grains may scorth.

Encourage good flow through but without introducing oxygen.

Be sure to steep at no higher than 170, and ideally closer to 160. You can add grains at the beginning and bring to temp.

Consider sparging your steeping grains at no higher than 170.

Do not squeeze the sack

Consider steeping in a small amount of water and bringing up to volume at the conclusion of the steep

Be conscious of hot side aeration.(Does boiling solve this?) Keep disturbance at a minimum.


Try to do a full boil rather then over-concentrating your wort and backfilling.

Plan on losing a gallon to boil-off for 5g

When adding LME, be very sure to kill burner first and then gently stir so that syrup doesn’t sink to bottom and burn.

When adding DME, make sure to dissolve powder so it doesn’t clump, sink. and/or burn.

Boil longer for extra kettle caramelization that require this characteristics. (Scottish ales)

Make sure you get a good rolling boil, which evaporates compound that will hurt your beer, such as DMS. Make sure your gives enough heat to give you a rolling boil.

Have a good fitting lid with cutout for chiller, but don’t use it during boil


One of the biggest challenges is to get your hot wort down to pitching temperature. So if you’re not doing something to accelerate this, you should be.

get to pitching temperature as quickly as possible.

immersion chillers

counterflow chillers

hybrid chillers

keep the wort protected from outside contaminants while doing so

to prevent the introduction of oxygen before wort is cool

Commercially purchased be can be full of bacteria

After the Brew


Temperature control. try to maintain 65-72 degree environment for ales with fluctuation of less that 2 degrees and ~50 degrees for lagers

rack to secondary after one week


First of all, boil your priming sugar in a little bit of water to make sure it is sanitary.

Clean and sanitize your bottles, bottling bucket, racking tools, etc.

Then, don’t just add the whole 5oz of priming sugar you get with a recipe. Figure out the volumes of c02 typically present in to your beer style and adjust for that.


Beer style                      Volumes CO2


British-style ales              1.5 – 2.0

Porter, stout                     1.7 – 2.3

Belgian ales                    1.9 – 2.4

European lagers              2.2 – 2.7

American ales & lagers   2.2 – 2.7

Lambic                            2.4 – 2.8

Fruit lambic                     3.0 – 4.5

German wheat beer               3.3 – 4.5


Typical CO2 levels in bottled beers

Googling PRIMING SUGAR CALCULATOR will take you to an online tool to figure the correct amount of priming sugar to add to get the desired result.