A big fear with extract brewers when switching to all-grain is that they are going to have to start all over again with recipes. Well fear no more, you can take your extract recipes and convert them over to all-grain recipes so you’ll never have to leave them behind.
I personally only know two different ways of converting recipes. One is really worth sharing, the other not so much. The one that is worth sharing is, “The Simple Method” the other not as big of a fan of because it’s hard to learn I’ve called, “The Technical Method”. I know the names are amazingly descriptive, blame it on the lack of coffee this morning. We continue.
The Simple Method
It may be easier to show by working backwards with an all-grain recipe to extract. To begin to know how to convert your recipes you need to find one key element. The key element is the, “Base Malt”. We have a blog written about base malts
, but as of now know that this is the grain that you are going to get most of your fermentable sugars out of. The base malt is the equivalent to your dry malt extract (dme) or you liquid malt extract (lme). The way to find the base malt is look for the largest amount of grain. Normally it wil be any where between 5lbs – 10 lbs.
8 lbs of pale malt
1 lb of crystal malt
(The 8 lbs of Pale Malt is the base malt)
Multiply the number of pounds of base malt by 0.75 to get the pounds of liquid extract. In this case we have 8 pounds of pale malt which means 6 pounds of liquid extract.
To convert to dry extract multiply the orginal base malt by 0.6. In this case 8 lbs of pale malt becomes 4.8 pounds of dry malt.
So now, working in the other direction, as if your an extract brewer looking to convert into all-grain. If you have a recipe that says:
4.8 lbs of Golden Light DME
1 lbs of Crystal Malt
4.8/.6 = 8 lbs of 2 Row
See really not that hard. But I know as well as you know, not all recipes are just with golden light malt extract. You have recipes that use dark malt and amber malt as well. Here is the golden ticket for those.
The conversion is that amber malt extracts are typically 95% 2 row and 5% crystal malts (use 60L or 80L if possible). For dark malt extract it is 90% 2 row and then 5% Roasted and 5% Chocolate (or crystal) malt.
Example With Pilsner Malt
6 lbs Pilsen Light DME =
6 lbs DME/.6 =
10 lbs of Pislner Malt
Example With Amber Malt
6 lbs Amber DME =
6 lbs Amber DME/.6 = 10 lbs 2row
but you still need to include the ratio listed above that is 95% is 2 row and 5% is crystal malt.
.95*10 lbs = 9.5 lbs 2 row
.05*10= .5 lbs of 60L Crystal Malt.
So at the end 6 lbs of Amber Malt extract is about the same as:
.5 lbs 60L Crystal Malt
Really not too hard. But if you wanted to make it more technical here is the technical method.
Dry malt is considered 100 percent sugar. This is the equivalent of 100° Brix. In one gallon of water, one pound of 100° Brix malt would yield a specific gravity of 1.045. Malt extract syrup about 80° Brix. One pound of an 80 percent mixture of sugar (80° Brix) dissolved in one gallon of water would yield 1.036 specific gravity.Multiply the maximum gravity (1.045) by the sugar percentage, which was 80 percent (0.8) in this case of 80° Brix extract. You are trying to get the specific gravity into “points” before multiplying. Specific gravity can be expressed as points for convenience in calculating. Just subtract 1 and multiply the result by 1,000. Specific gravity 1.045 is the same as 45 points.
1.045 (S.G.) = 45 points
0.8 (80 percent) x 45 points = 36
36 points = 1.036 (S.G.)
After you finish your calculation, remember to convert your “points” back to specific gravity.
The example above assumed 80° Brix extract.
Now that you know what specific gravity your extract will supply, you can aim to get the same specific gravity with your grains, but you need to take into account that your brewing system will not be able to extract the entire 100 percent of sugar from the grains.If you’ve never brewed all-grain before, you won’t know how efficient you are going to be, unless you know otherwise, assume that you will get 75 percent of the maximum quoted above (1.036 specific gravity), which is pretty typical for a home brewer. This percentage is known as efficiency. Now, to convert your nine pounds of extract to grain, do the following:Determine how many points per pound you will get, in this case you are looking at getting 36 (1.036)Determine how many points per pound you will get from one pound of grain . This is the 75% of 36.
Multiply the weight of extract (9lbs) by the ratio of points from the extract (36) over points from grain (27)
9x(36/27) = 12 lbs of grain.
If you see specialty grains, you end up using the same amount in general for both. In many cases this is true because you are assuming that you are steeping the is done correctly, which is with heating water from around 149F – 168F.
And that’s why I usually stick with the Simple Method….
So now you know that you won’t leave your recipes behind. In fact you can plan on making your best recipe as your first recipe if you would like. There is one big thing you should know when it comes to using hops with all-grain. You typically use 25% less hops with all-grain when compared to the same recipe for extract with specialty grains. The reason is that, hop utilization is based off of the amount of original gravity there is in the boil. When boiling with 3 gallons of beer the gravity is going to be higher then when boiling with 5-7 gallons of water. So take that into consideration when converting as well.
There are calculators out there which can help you with this, also programs like: Beer Smith
, Pro Mash
, Reel Beer Tools
. Truthfully they all pretty much do the same thing. It really comes down to which interface you like the most and feel most comfortable with. If they have free trials I would try them out first.
Beyond that I think that we’re ready to go onto to building some stuff that we need to get our all-grain brew on. Which is the next step in the all-grain series. Then it’s time to take it home and do the all-grain brew.
Tags: all grain brewing, base malt, converting all-grain recipes into extract recipes, converting extract recipes into all-grain, extract to all grain brewing, grain brewing, hop utilization, how to switch extract to all grain, is all grain brewing easy, malt extracts, malts, use less hops with all-grain then with extract