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In Brewing Classic Styles by Jamil Zainasheff, many of the recipes call for LME. Often, the amount is 0.5 lbs or similar, particularly of things like Munich extract. I typically brew all-grain, but my mash tun is currently out-of-commission, so I am doing some extract brews.

Is it really possible to use quantities of LME that are less than a full container? My brew shop only carres 3.3 lb and 33 lb containers. My (limited) experience with LME suggests that attempting to separate and weigh it would be an exercise in frustration, since LME is hardly liquid, instead resembling a dense gelatin.

Are these simply not practical recipes for the extract brewer?

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4 Answers 4

Trying to pour such a viscous liquid is difficult - even more so when you only need a small amount. As you pour, the LME usually doesn't come out until you tilt the bottle up high enough, and then you get a large glob flop out, and you then instinctively lower the bottle, which either stops the flow or at best leaves a small trickle. And the cycle repeats, terminated by a large bottle of LME hurled against the nearest wall...

For small volumes, you can try pouring out what you can manage to get out, and don't worry about overshooting. A large knife can be used to interrupt the flow cleanly. Then warm up the collected LME to 70C/160F - it will flow much better, so you can then easily measure and pour off the excess back into the bottle.

The sugar concentration of LME is too high for bugs to grow in it, so don't be afraid about returning excess to the container. Although I've read reports of mold growing on top of the LME once the bottle is opened, but I have never seen that myself.

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If you warm up LME it isn't that hard to pour and measure into a container. I also recommend not opening the entire top of a can (if that's your source). I recommend warming it up and using the "church key" type opener that pokes those triangular hole into the top of the can. Just poke two holes into the top of the can on opposite sides (one to pour out and one as a vent).

I used measure LME that way and it works pretty good. I always made it a point to brew again soon though with the opened LME.

It is a little impractical which is LME is good to use in the 3.3lb can increments and make up odd ball gravity point needs with DME.

Most munich LME I have seen is still a 50/50 mix of munich to base malt, so there seems like you could recalculate for a using some DME in place of the LME.

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Larger/Better homebrew shops will sell you liquid extract in take-away containers in the exact weight that you need. My local shop JUST started doing this, as its not too cheap. First time I ever saw this was on the Alton Brown 'Good Eats' episode on homebrewing.

I suspect Jamil isn't too concerned about the impracticality of the ingredients, he's just listing the 'perfect' set of ingredients to make the style.

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I agree with the last statement. I think most of his recipes are simple conversions of his all grain methods to extract. He did this to keep the book accessible to all brewers. –  brewchez Feb 16 '12 at 23:52

One of many reasons that I only use DME. Easy to weigh, easy to store. You can convert a recipe from LME to DME by multiplying the LME weight by 0.85. So if the recipe uses .5 lb of a LME, replace it with .43lb of LME.

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Unfortunately, my brew shop does not carry Munich extract in dry form. –  Dustin Rasener Feb 17 '12 at 21:40

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