Gowanus Brewery

Extract Brewing

“Extract brewing” means using a liquid or dry extract of barley malt to form the base for your beer. Typically, the extract is part of an ingredient kit that already includes everything else you’ll need to get started, but you can also put together recipes a la carte at any number of online beer supply retailers. The primary benefit to the homebrewer in choosing to use the extract method is that it cuts the complexity of making beer at home in half. As I describe below, Full-mash Brewing requires not only extra equipment and time, but also extra know-how. By starting with extract brewing, you can get started with minimal instruction and equipment, which allows you to focus some fundamentals: fermenting and bottling.


  1. Five-gallon “Bottling Bucket”: This is a five-gallon bucket with a spigot attached to the side, near the bottom, at such a point that, if allowed to drain while sitting on a level surface, the level of the beer would stop two inches from bottom. It has a tight-fitting lid with a one-quarter inch, grommeted hole in it to hold an air lock.
  2. Five- to six-and-a-half-gallon Glass Carboy: We have a rubber stopper for the carboy that also has a quarter-inch hole to hold an air lock.
  3. Three-gallon Enamel Pot, Plastic Stir-spoon
  4. Kitchen Range
  5. Hydrometer
  6. Water-lock
  7. Three Feet of Quarter-inch Tubing
  8. Auto-siphon


Sanitize equipment and start your yeast.


  1. Heat Liquid Malt Extract: If our liquid malt extract came in metal cans, we may put them into a sauce pan with a couple cups of water over heat to soften the syrup. The heat makes pouring the syrup easier and shortens the return-to-boil period later on.
  2. Heat Water: We fill the enamel pot with three gallons of tap water and put it on the range over high heat. Using a coat-hanger, we suspend the thermometer in the water and wait for it to reach 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Sanitize Equipment: While the water gets hot, we sanitize the hydrometer, water lock, and bottling bucket, taking special care to clean and then cover the spigot with tin foil.
  4. Steep Specialty Grain: Depending on our ingredient kit or recipe, we may begin to steep specialty grains when the temperature of the water reaches 150 degrees. We pour the grains into the muslin bag or sock, which is usually included with the ingredient kit, tie it off, and lower it into the pot. We let it steep for 20 minutes, leveling off the heat as the temperature nears 180 degrees Fahrenheit. After the 20 minutes, we remove the grains and discard them.
  5. Bring Water to Rolling Boil: This we can eyeball, so the thermometer comes out and we put it aside for later.
  6. Add Liquid and Dry Malt Extract: Aware that the addition dry malt extract may trigger a boil over, we add this and the liquid malt extract slowly, stirring constantly using a clean plastic spoon.
  7. Make Ice Bath: We bring the wort to a boil again and, while waiting, we fill the sink with cold water and five to ten pounds of ice.
  8. Add Hops: We add hops according to the recipe schedule over the final 60 minutes of boiling.
  9. Cool Wort: We carefully lower the enamel pot into the ice bath. After about 20 minutes have passed, we reattach our thermometer and watch for the wort to cool to 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
  10. Move Beer to Primary Fermenter: After the wort has cooled, we pour it into the bottling bucket, which serves as the primary fermenter.
  11. Pitch Yeast: We add yeast directly to the beer.
  12. Seal and Add Air Lock: We seal the bucket and put in place the air lock. We let fermentation go on for five to seven days.
  13. Move Beer to Secondary Fermenter: We attach the three-foot hose to the bottling bucket spigot, lift the bucket to a counter or tabletop, and drain into the glass carboy. As the level drops, we tilt the bucket slowly to draw off the maximal amount of beer. Seal secondary with stopper and air lock, as before.
  14. Allow to Rest: We allow the beer to sit in secondary for one to four weeks, depending on the recipe.
  15. Bottle or Keg.

1 Comment so far
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[…] Barry’s not doing anything special in brewing this beer. He’s following a standard extract brew method, but, instead of bottling, he’s kegging it.  We haven’t kegged beer before, so I […]

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