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Is there any quality difference between the two? Dry malt extract is way more convenient for me, but are there any downsides? Can I use just DME (and no liquid malt extract) with no problems in some recipe?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

LME is 20% water, so if you're changing a recipe, make your conversions appropriately.

Provided they're both fresh, I can't speak to noticing any quality differences, but that's just me.

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DME stays fresh far longer than LME. Old, oxidized LME has been pointed to as the source of "cidery" off flavors in homebrew.

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In my experience there's no effect on the quality of the beer, and I've also found DME to be the preferred ingredient if I have a choice, because of the convenience. You'll also probably find a bigger variety of DME (sometimes even specific to a single grain) at your brew shop because it's the more popular of the two, so developing your own recipes is very easy.

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Other than the extra water in LME there's no quality difference in my experience. There is a very slight difference in handling.

LME is hard to use a partial quantity as it sticks to everything, making it difficult to measure out accurate weight or volume. For that reason I prefer DME, though pouring DME into a steaming wort does cause some of the crystals in the packaging to absorb the steam and turn sticky (but it's negligible)

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To avoid steaming your pack, best to transfer to your measured DME to a bowl. Can then dunk into the water to dissolve off any stuck bits – Guy C Jan 23 '13 at 16:37

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