Extract Brewing Simplified

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This guide is written for would be Extract brewers to see what is involved in a basic extract brewing session; it is not meant to be a tutorial but just an overview of what is involved in brewing a good beer (for more detailed information see the article on extract brewing).

In it's simplest form making an extract beer requires adding hopped extract to hot water, pouring the mixture into a fermenter, topping up with cold water, and adding yeast. Put an airlock on, wait 7-10 days, bottle with a little sugar in each bottle, cap, wait 2 weeks, and your beer is done and ready to drink.

Will this give you good beer and the satisfaction of real brewing? Debatable. Lets look at a more satisfying involved method.

Let's assume that to make a good extract beer you'll be be looking at either steeping some specialty grains and using unhopped extract with hop additions, or doing a partial mash with hop additions.

Extract with Steeping

Equipment Needed

The minimum equipment require for making an extract beer with specialty grains is:

Additional beneficial equipment:


The fermentables (sugars to be turned to alcohol) for the brew will come from the malt extract which comes in two forms, dry (DME) and liquid (LME). Speciality grains are steeped mainly for colour and flavour properties and do not add fermentable sugars. Hops are added to provide bitterness, flavour and aroma.


Most home brew extract kits involve steeping the specialty grains, adding the malt extract to boiling water, adding hops at specified intervals during the boil (typical boil length is 60 minutes), and pitching yeast. If you want to get a recipe for a better extract beer, there are multiple books and internet sources available with thousands of recipes. You can then purchase your ingredients in small amounts from most Home brew stores. Many home brew stores and internet suppliers offer their own ingredient kits as well.

Basics Steps

  1. Steep the grain for 15 minutes
  2. Remove grain
  3. Bring to boil
  4. Remove from heat and add malt extract
  5. Return to boil and add bittering hops
  6. Add flavour and aroma hops at specified intervals
  7. Cool wort
  8. Add to fermenter
  9. Top up water
  10. Pitch yeast

See the article on extract brewing for a more detailed tutorial.

Full Boil

Most extract brewers choose to boil 1.5 to 3 gallons of water then "top-off" to 5 gallons when the wort is added to the fermenter. The principle benefits to this method are that it requires a smaller brew kettle and no additional equipment is required for cooling. The main disadvantage is that it limits hop utilization, requiring more hops to be used during the boil.

Partial mash

Also called mini mash brewing, partial mash uses some all-grain techniques, however, most of the fermentable sugars are still provided by the extract.

Brewers may choose to use the partial mash technique as a mid-way step on their way to all-grain brewing or because they are limited in the amount of wort they can boil due to being stove-top brewers.


Partial mashing does require some additional equipment. Since the specialty grains will now be mashed with some base malt, a vessel for conducting the mash is now required. This can be as simple as using a large nylon grain bag or you can build a mash tun.


Partial mash brews will have a quantity of base malt greater than or equal to the amount of specialty grains in addition to the extract, specialty grains, hops, and yeast.

Basic steps

With nylon bag in kettle

  1. Place your crushed grains in the bag and put the bag in your cooler or pot. Do not tie off the top.
  2. Add 1.33 quarts of 168F [75C] water per pound of grain [3 L/kg]
  3. Stir the grain until the temperature is uniform. Add hot/cold water in small quantities to adjust.
  4. Let the grain sit for 60 minutes.
  5. Stir it again and lift the bag out and let it drain.
  6. Add the extract and proceed as you would for an extract batch.

With mash tun

  1. Heat 1.33 quarts of water per pound of grain to 168F to use as mash water.
  2. Bring 1 gallon of water to boil.
  3. Add boiling water to mash tun to preheat and drain.
  4. Add mash water.
  5. Add grain and stir until the temperature is uniform. Add hot/cold water in small quantities to adjust.
  6. Let sit for 60 minutes.
  7. Drain and sparge into kettle.
  8. Add the extract and proceed as you would for an extract batch.

See the article on partial mashing for a more detailed tutorial.

Further Reading

Home brewing Video

How to Brew