Has anyone tried brewing beer without using malt extract? It seems the question has been asked thousands of times, but the answers always center around "It wouldn't be beer" or "trust me don't try it". That's the same as not having an answer. There is proof that beer has been being made for at least 3800 years (1800 BC), and it's estimated possibly 8000 years. Only in the last 100 years could you go into a store and buy DME or LME, so almost every beer ever made was made without it (and in regions where barley wasn't common). So if you have a recipe, I'd love trying a batch that doesn't taste like a Crisp, Malty, and Hoppy assembly project.

closed as too broad by farmersteve, jsolarski, Philippe, Franklin P Combs, BBS Dec 13 '18 at 14:45

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    This question makes no sense. I doubt anyone is making an ancient style of beer with malt extract, in fact it's the exact opposite. People trying to make ancient recipes would only use grains... – farmersteve Dec 2 '18 at 16:16
  • I'm not sure if you are trolling me, or didn't understand my question. Whenever someone asks about a recipe with NO use of malt extract, they get answers like yours. When someone asks about a Viking or Ancient Egyptian recipe, the answer always say to use DME. For thousands of years in dozens of regions there would have been no such thing. OBVIOUSLY most beer for thousands of years probably would not even seem like "beer" to us. I'd like to make some. – gRInCH Dec 2 '18 at 16:38
  • As far as I understand it, extract recipes are provided for beginning brewers or people who don't want to use all-grain mashes --- if that's your target audience, you provide an extract recipe. On the same account I'd expect people to adjust recipes for today's ingredients and e.g., not recommend to use poisonous herbs in a gruit beer, even though it's inaccurate. – Robert Dec 2 '18 at 17:10
  • Good point. I'm thinking of trying something with Heather and Honey. I know that makes everyone think mead. – gRInCH Dec 2 '18 at 17:56
  • I get what you're getting at. But suffice it to say working with other fermentables and calling it beer doesn't make it beer. I am pretty sure whatever ancient recipe egyptians or sumarians were making with honey or milk or grapes or whatever they had... they weren't calling it beer. Anthropologist might call it beer or brewing. Vernacular changes with time; but effective communication helps us understand each other. SO if you want to make a great beverage with honey and heather calling it mead will get you further and more helpful info. – brewchez Dec 3 '18 at 13:29

Yes you can make beer without malt extracts. Here are the terms and process in simple answer.

Malt Extracts are a concentrated sugar extracted from grains. Barley, rye and wheat usually.

To extract sugars directly from malted grain and not use an extract is called All-Grain brewing. Grain (malted barley, rye or wheat) are milled and mixed with water then held at specific temperatures for a time this is called a Mash. This is done in a vessel called a Mash Tun. The resulting sugar water called Wort is then transfered to the boil kettle. At this point the brew process is the same as using malt extracts.

There is a simplified all-grain method that uses a bag instead of a Mash run. This is called Brew In A Bag (BIAB).

You can make alcohol from any fermentable sugar. But it's technically not beer unless at least 50% of the fermentable comes from barley, rye or wheat. This is using the BJCP guidlines as to what is beer. Bravarian law does not allow anything but grain, hops, yeast, water.


Chris Colby of Beer and Wine Journal has provided an overview on how to brew old sumerian happy juice.

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