I am in the middle of brewing a Phat Tyre Amber Ale from Northern Brewer. After boiling the water and steeping the grain, I took the pot off and added the liquid 6lbs Munich malt syrup and the dry 1lb Pilsen malt extract, as I am typically instructed to add the malt sugars at the beginning of the boil.

Only after this point when I needed to check the hop schedule did I bother to read the instructions, where I learned that I was supposed to add the 6lbs liquid Munich malt syrup 15 minutes towards the end of the boil, as opposed to the start of the boil.

What is the purpose of this instruction -- to add malt sugars towards the end of the boil as opposed to the beginning?

  • I don't have enough facts to substantiate the claim I'm about to make, but that sounds silly. Certain aspects like the hop's alpha acid utilization depend on the wort's pH, and if you aren't adding sugars until the very end, you're not going to get the same utilization as you would if you added them at the beginning of the boil. Another thing I'd imagine would suffer would be developing a good hot-break in that amount of time. I'd recommend emailing Northern Brewer and asking them this question. I'd guess your mistake was the right thing to do.
    – Scott
    Oct 18, 2013 at 5:51
  • 2
    related Does a malt late addition affect OG
    – mdma
    Oct 18, 2013 at 9:22

2 Answers 2


This technique of holding back the extract until the end of the boil is a fairly new concept that's caught on in the last few years. Here's some reasons why its a good idea in general:

  • Faster time from the start of the boil to the 1st hop addition
  • Less chance of a boil over
  • Less caramalization/Mailiard reactions of the extract (leading to lighter colored beer). This is probably the biggest benefit.

To answer Scott's concerns in his comment above:

  • The Hop Utilization for this recipe was formulated with LATE MALT ADDITIONS IN MIND, so there's no problem there. Northern Brewer certainly knows how to account for the change in utilization. You might actually end up a few IBU's off the recipe target, since you didn't follow it precisely (but I wouldn't worry about it, human's mostly can't detect anything less than a 5 IBU difference anyway).

  • Hot Break isn't a problem because malt extract has already been "hot-broken" when it was condensed into syrup. This is also the reason why DMS is less of a concern for extract brewers, because the process of turning wort into extract at the factory boils off most DMS precursors and of course also creates a hot break. The hot break proteins might still be IN the extract, but since you can't unscramble an egg, they do not require re-breaking, and will fall out just fine in the fermentor.

  • Very interesting. The three main points make a lot of sense once someone points them out
    – Scott
    Oct 18, 2013 at 14:43
  • Nice answer. You could add improved hop utilization, since it's a much less concentrated wort for most of the boil.
    – mdma
    Oct 18, 2013 at 15:18
  • Does it improve hop utilization though? I would have thought that lowering the pH by adding the extract would improve the hop utilization? Or does the concentration-pH correspondence make the difference negligible?
    – Scott
    Oct 18, 2013 at 16:27
  • Thanks Graham. Do you think the flavor of my beer will be materially different because I added all the malt at the start instead of doing a late addition? Oct 18, 2013 at 17:25
  • 2
    Hop utilization increases with pH and decreases with gravity (suspended solids) so adding the extract early would give a double hit on utilization (lower pH + higher SG), or conversly, adding the extract late gives better utilization.
    – mdma
    Oct 21, 2013 at 16:37

Late addition also compliments partial boil. For an extract brewer, using less water and delaying additions of extract make it possible to brew on just about any stove top. A full boil with all the extract up front versus a partial boil with extract held back will have similar utilization, because the gravity and composition is made similar by the techniques. I don't know about beer smith but brewtarget has a check box for 'late addition' which doesn't affect SRM (in the software) but does increase hop utilization. This way you can take a recipe that anticipates a full boil and make it a partial boil and use late extract additions to see if you need to adjust hops for the anticipated IBU. To state the obvious; doing a partial boil without doing late additions drastically reduces your hop utilization. Also, late addition is a technique best used with LME. DME will ball up and be difficult to dissolve in solution at high temps.

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