Extract vs All Grain Brewing: What is the difference?

by Karl | Updated: September 28, 2021

When I design a beer recipe, it’s typically all grain. And I send that to Atlantic brew supply who come up with an extract equivalent of my recipe. I’ve never actually tried one of those.

And it’s got me thinking, do the extract vs the all grain taste, basically the same?

Well, I think it’s about time I found out. So I’m going to be brewing an American IPA, actually two American IPA’s. The extract version of an American IPA and the all grain version.

Brewing Recipe for 3 Gallons:

ALL GRAIN

  • 5 lbs 5.0 oz Maris Otter
  • 2 lbs 8.0 oz Munich Type II

EXTRACT

  • 5.0 oz Carapils [Steep]
  • 5.0 oz Munich II (Weyermann) [Steep]
  • 5.0 oz Special B [Steep]
  • 6 lbs Pale Liquid Extract [Boil]

BOTH All Grain + Extract

  • 0.60 oz CTZ – Boil 30.0 min
  • 0.60 oz Galaxy [14.00 %] – Boil 15.0 min
  • 0.60 oz Motueka [7.00 %] – Boil 0.0 min
  • 1.0 pkg Hornindal Kveik (Omega #OYL-091)

Now in terms of ingredients, I’m using the same hops and the same yeast for both of these beers, but for the all grain version, I’ve got a big old sack here of crushed grains.

Whereas for the extract, I have a much smaller little sack of steeping grains and some liquid malt extract.

Now for extract brewing, the instructions on the Atlantic brew supply site are for a five gallon batch and they say to start with two to three gallons of water and then add the rest of the water in at the end into the fermenter.

I’ve got all the equipment here so I might as well just do a full batch extract brew, which means I’m going to start with the full volume of water that I’m going to need. So I have put in here 3.9 gallons of water. This water is in no way treated with anything. It’s just straight out of my RV filter. So it’s filtered tap water, no water salts at all.

For the all grain recipe, I need a little bit more water because of grain absorption. So I’ve got 4.6 gallons in here. And because I’m mashing and trying to perform conversion, I do need to treat my water.

So what I’ve got here is some water salts. I have gypsum, calcium chloride, and Epsom salt, and I am using a mixture of three grams of Epsom salt, three grams of calcium chloride and five grams of gypsum.

Which will give me a little bit of a higher sulfate to chloride ratio more on the sulfate side. So that will just sort of help enhance the bitterness of this beer. This is a step of course I didn’t need to do for the extract.

I’m also adding three milliliters of lactic acid will help balance my pH, want to get a pH of around 5.2 during the mash. And typically that’s about how much lactic acid I need for this sort of recipe to get to that.

Both beers should have an original gravity, around about 10 66 at about a 7% beer. And I’m going for kind of tropical fruit in my American IPA in terms of flavor and aroma. For these steeping grain stage, it’s a case of getting the water to between 150 and 170 Fahrenheit. I’m at about 155 preheated my strike water to a little, 152 Fahrenheit.

Now my extract recipe consists of six pounds of pale liquid malt extract. And then my steeping grains here, I have five ounces each of Munich II, special B and carapils.

So that I then end up touching the heating element of scorching anything I am going to use my basket, just drop the steeping grains in for about 30 minutes.

This big old bag of all grain brewing ingredients consists of 68% of Maris, Otter and 32% of the Munich II. Okay. K, in the grains.

I’m recirculating this wort that really helps a little bit with the efficiency. And I’m going to do that for about 60 minutes.

Which is going to make the better beer? Let’s find out. I’m back at Atlantic Brew Supply with Todd, how’s it going? Hey, it’s going great Martin.

So how did you take the all grain version and get an extract recipe out of it?

It’s pretty straightforward. Extract recipes is what we all probably started on. I don’t like that sometimes it’s stigmatized as being less of a brewing activity. We love that it lowers the barrier to entry into the hobby.

Uh, the conversion process is typically hinged on taking the base grain of your all grain recipe and substituting liquid malt extract or dry malt extract for, for those gravity points.

We’d like to include what’s called steeping grains, which normally are your, uh, uh, roast, highly roasted grains or other specialty grains that tend to round out the flavor and color profile of, of the extract beer.

So with this American IPA, I gave you an all grain recipe and you’ve converted it into extract. Um, how did you do that?

So we use a maris otter as our base malt. Now there is a Maris Otter, liquid malt extract. Uh, we don’t carry that readily. We, we can’t get it. Uh, but in this case we kind of faked it. So those steeping grains are going to bring in some of those, uh, finer characteristics of that all-grain, um, grain bill.

And hopefully, uh, Martin’s going to do a comparison of those and, and be interested in to see your results and, uh, what differences or similarities you find in those.

All right, that’s been 30 minutes. Now at this point, I need to add in my liquid malt extract. The instructions again, say to put half in, because you only have half the amount of water, but I’m just gonna throw this all in. So what I’m going to do is get rid of this basket and then get the gloopy stuff in here. Uh, and it is gloopy gloopy gloopy.

Seem to have got most of it out. Now I’m going to bring this up to boil. Now this is pale liquid malt extract, but there are different types of these liquid malt extracts.

Most of our recipes are going to use a golden light liquid malt extract, which is a two row barley derived product with it’s 99% 2-row over, they call it base malt, and it’s got 1% carapils in there. Uh, you moved to a Pilsner malt, and again, you use a different barley, uh, for that. And of course you would use that for your Pilsner beers.

Uh, we also have some others, uh, Munich and wheat and a Dark, and a Amber. So there are, uh, varieties. It really, really expands the access to the hobby, uh, and it makes it a lot easier for people to get into.

Wort is boiling now. So I’m ready for the hop additions. I’m doing a 30 minute boil, um, for my bittering hop using CTZ, which is going to go in at the start of the boil, which is right now, um, for a five gallon batch you’d use one ounce. I’m going to use about two thirds, cause I’m going to do a three gallon batch.

Then in 15 minutes, I’m going to add my second hop addition, which is Galaxy. So galaxy will go in at 15 minutes and then at flame out, Motueka, which is my aroma hop.

At the end of that mash, I bumped the temperature up to 168 Fahrenheit to perform a mash out, then remove the grains, bringing to a boi now. And it’s the same hop schedule as before starting with CTZ.

So here’s the all grain and the extract into both of these I’m adding that same yeast, which is Hornindal yeast, OYL-091. This is going to give some pretty sort of tropical fruit flavors. And it’s going to ferment pretty fast as well. I really like this for American IPA’s.

I’m going to ferment this at about 90 Fahrenheit. I’ve already added it to the extract, so let’s get it into the all grain as well. That’s it. Let them ferment and see what we got.

Tasting Time: Can we taste the difference?

Left: Extract. Right: All Grain

Well, Norm, thanks for coming for two beers this week. My pleasure. This one is the all grain. This one is the extract. So we want to see how similar and how different they are.

If we look just for appearances first of all, I think we’re already seeing a difference.

Absolutely. The processed one is almost like a dark Amber color. While this one is kind of a dirty blonde, I’m going to call it. It looks like they head on this has a little tighter carbonation than the head on this. This one seems to be a little, a little, a larger carbonation.

I think even the head color is a little different, isn’t it? Absolutely. Yeah, you can. You can definitely tell that the darker beer is producing the slightly darker head color. Yeah.

The aroma or the hops in general were exactly the same. Yeast use was exactly the same. So I’m thinking this might be closer to each other, but that’s fine. That’s fine.

Did you get a difference between the two? Yeah. I got a definite difference between the two. Definate difference. This one to me has a mustier odor than that one.

Yeah. This is tastes, smells a little fresher. Yeah, I think, yeah. Then this one, I don’t know why that would be, these are the same hops.

Left: Extract. Right: All Grain

I think I want to try the lighter colored one first. Let’s try that one. Well, first of all, it’s wonderful, but it’s got that hoppy fruitiness. I’ve really enjoy that. I think.

Yeah. I think the hops coming through with this. Okay. Let’s give this a try, let’s do it.

Oh, notably different. Come on. My goodness. It is a, it is completely different beer. If you had not told me that these were from the essentially the same recipe that doesn’t even seem, it tastes like the same style.

Okay. So let’s, let’s break it down bitterness, much more bitter. Right. Flavors and aromas are also very different. Yes.

Yes. A lot more roasted. There’s something else in it too. Like, um, an herbal note, that’s not present in this one, this one, uh, the flavor profile on this one is not off-putting it’s still a very pleasurable and I, I suspect, you know, depending on the beer drinker, they would prefer this.

Did you say herbal for this one? A little bit, a little bit over. I would agree with that. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. You’re pretty confident that you could tell these two apart?

Easily, easily, wouldn’t he then there’d be no contest.

Now, the trick here isn’t necessarily to say, which is all grain and which is extract just to say which two of the same? Understood.

I think we can make the call.

Let’s start with number one, number one. Okay. So clearly that’s what it is. Number two, number two,

Beer #1, which beer was that? That is the natural that’s the whole grain, all-grain, right? Yeah. The all grain.

Beer number two, extract the extract. Do you think maybe we should say this at the same time? Okay. Whether we think this is all grain or extract.

Oliver, could you count us down? And when it gets to one we’ll say 5, 4, 3, 2, 1,…

Extract. Yeah. Right Oliver? Extract. They say, yeah. Yeah. That was, that was, that was abundantly clear. Make sure I can’t see out of this.

Okay. Okay.

Uh, I’m gonna, I’m assuming I’ve got one right here. That’s definitely an extract. Definitely an all-grain and that makes this one, an extract. Yep. Extract.

How good was I? On the money. Yeah. It’s it’s just, uh, they’re they’re, they’re just, distinguishably notably different in every way.

Yep. Look, I get that the coloring can be different because that’s just the process of extract. I’m surprised how much flavor is different. I’m floored that the hop smell is so different or just the aroma of the beer is so different.

Well, Norm, thank you. Oh, you’re welcome. I’m relieved for both of us that we were able to play. My pleasure.

Yeah. How easy it was? This was a great test though. Well, congratulations on brewing another outstanding beer. Well, thank you.

Cheers, Cheers!

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