Extract brewing, as opposed to all-grain brewing, is where many people begin on this great beer journey. It's easier than all-grain brewing and requires less time and equipment.


The process is pretty straightforward: steep grains in warm water, bring to boil, add malt extract (dried or liquid), add hops, cool, pitch yeast, ferment, drink. The brew day is around five hours, not too much equipment is needed (especially if doing a small batch), and the beer is likely to be very drinkable. You can make most beer styles as an extract brew, and the quality can be exceptionally high (they’ve even been known to win competitions). Most homebrewers do sooner or later (usually sooner) make the jump to all-grain brewing, and maybe going back to extract for small batch brews or when time is tight. The results of all-grain brews are usually much better, but the brew day is much longer and more equipment is needed. 

Most extract recipes involve steeping speciality grains in hot water, much like a tea bag, for around half an hour. These malts add extra colour and flavour to the finished beer. The water should be around 65ºC.

After removing the steeping grains, bring the liquid to a boil. Many recipes require you to add the malt extract (liquid or dry) once the liquid reaches a boil. For best results, remove the kettle from your heat source first, then slowly add the malt extract and stir until dissolved. Then return the kettle to the heat source and bring it back to a boil. If you add the extract while boiling, it may simply scorch to the bottom of your kettle and create burnt flavour in the beer. Watch the heat level carefully, as the foam can very quickly boil over and make a hideous mess.

Once it is boiling, add the hops according to the recipe and follow the process in this book as normal: chill the beer as quickly as possible, pitch the yeast and wait for it to ferment into beer.


The next logical move is to up the size of the brew to 23 litres (five gallons). Two key pieces require spending: a brew kettle and larger fermenting vessel. The kettle is the biggest investment. It can be either an electric kettle (a converted tea urn) or large pot with a propane burner (our preference as it’s more reliable). You’ll also need a larger fermenting vessel (a bigger bucket!). At this level, you should also be looking at a hydrometer to measure alcohol, airlocks, syphons and a wort chiller to cool the wort as quickly as possible.