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MichaelL

LME vs DME

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Not a problem, just a question for the MrBeer brewmasters out there.

 

I ordered 2 MrBeer recipes for my wife to give me as Christmas presents  :)   The two are Rose's Rambling Red (based on the Oktoberfest refill) and Shillelagh Stout.  Both come with pouches of Smooth malt extract, but one uses DME and the other LME. Functionally, what is the difference between using liquid or dry malt extract?  Why would you use one over the other in a given recipe?  I am curious because I plan to be creating my own recipes as time goes on and would like to know when using dry extract is right and when liquid is the way to go.  Any of you veterans have any wisdom to share on this?

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Not a Brewmaster but I'll give it a shot....

 

1.  If you have a longer boil to do, for getting more bitter out of your hops, DME may be better.  LME tends to darken the longer the boil.

 

2. DME works great as a top off for all your recipes.  Buy in bulk it will last longer, then when your recipe calls for x lbs of malt, and you only have (or can only purchase) x-1 lbs of LME, you can make up the difference with your stash of DME.  DME also nice to have around if you are making a yeast starter.

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There is a difference as you might imagine, since DME is powdered LME. Therefore, it's more "concentrated". A pound of DME is roughly equal to 1.25 pounds of LME. Conversely, a pound of LME equals 0.8 pounds of DME.

Rose's Rambling Red has no hop addition whereas the other recipe does, for a 5 minute boil. DME is likely more profitable for Mr. Beer (since they don't have to package it into 8.8 oz pouches). Mr. Beer LME doesn't need to be boiled to be sanitary, so you can just dump it in. DME needs to be boiled, and you need to boil hops, therefore, the use of DME in that recipe.

In a given recipe, you can use either. It comes down to 1) which is easier for you to use, 2) which stores better as azmark said, and 3) which is cheaper. Many people store DME, so when they test their recipe and find it lacking in gravity they add some DME.

I exclusively use LME because I buy my ingredients at my LHBS and they sell it in bulk for $2.50 a pound, and give me exactly how much I want. I can ask for 7.2 pounds in one container, 6.0 pounds in another, and 0.5 in the last one. I pay for 13.7 pounds (my own containers). DME costs more than that, as does LME in cans, and of course LME from Mr. Beer which is perfectly packaged to make the Deluxe recipes.

Plan your recipes ignoring which you will use, pick one, and then if you want to change simply do the conversion. You will find many recipes online that use both, and that's because a can of LME has 3.3 pounds, so if they need 7.85 pounds of LME in a recipe they'll say 6.6 pounds of LME and 1 pound of DME.

When I get it in bulk, I soak the container in hot water in the sink (just like a Mr. Beer HME) so it will pour easier. I then take a ladle and put a few scoups of the hot wort into the container and swish it around, then pour that in (since I'm going to be boiling anyway no issue with sanitation). In this manner at most I leave 0.10 pounds in a container, usually less (weigh the container full and then empty after you're done to calculate how much LME you added). I usually ask for 0.10 pounds more than I need just in case, but again I don't care that much how it comes out within that variance.

Last point - LME and DME come in various types - Pale/light, Smooth, Robust, Wheat, Amber, ... In fact, except for wheat beer recipes you can combine pale/light LME and steeped grains to get the same outcome as if you used say amber LME. My LHBS owner laughed the first time I asked for amber LME, explained it to me. I noted that all of their recipes use pale/light then steeped speciality grains to get the color and flavor you want.

I also don't care about color - if a red beer comes out too dark or a brown beer looks like a porter. Close your eyes, taste it, and if you smile that's all that matters.

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There is no reason (that I know of) to use one over the other in a recipe.  It will taste the same and do the same job.  There is a ratio that you'd need to know if a recipe called for liquid malt extract, and all you had was dry, since liquid weighs more.

 

The difference is storage vs. ease of use.  Dry malt stores well, for much longer.  Liquid is generally easier to use, since you don't have to re-hydrate it and worry (as much?) about boil overs.

 

EDIT: Rick (above) posted the ratio.

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Like the others have said other than amount needed there is no real difference. Other than DME is easier to store.

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Thanks to everyone who weighed in.  As always, you were very helpful.  This is a great community.

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MichaelL, I think that everyone here has answered the question pretty thoroughly, but I am still going to pass along your question our Brewmaster and will post her response here in the forum :)

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Not a problem, just a question for the MrBeer brewmasters out there.

 

I ordered 2 MrBeer recipes for my wife to give me as Christmas presents  :)   The two are Rose's Rambling Red (based on the Oktoberfest refill) and Shillelagh Stout.  Both come with pouches of Smooth malt extract, but one uses DME and the other LME. Functionally, what is the difference between using liquid or dry malt extract?  Why would you use one over the other in a given recipe?  I am curious because I plan to be creating my own recipes as time goes on and would like to know when using dry extract is right and when liquid is the way to go.  Any of you veterans have any wisdom to share on this?

 

Per our Brewmaster: 

 

"We chose the DME in the Shillelagh Stout to allow the Northern Brewer hops to isomerize so that along with flavor and aroma you get a little boost in IBU’s as well.

 

Other than that the only difference is in form dry vs. liquid, but dry is a little easier to work with for this technique." 

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That's what I said without the fancy words... :)

I had to click the "like" button here even if you are from Ann Arbor (MSU Spartan class of 1980 here).  Go Green!

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Gee, thanks I guess.. Always try to help the less fortunate... LOL

So, when's the rematch with NJIT?  Sorry, couldn't resist. Happy holidays to you and yours and to Wolverines everywhere.

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I had to click the "like" button here even if you are from Ann Arbor (MSU Spartan class of 1980 here).  Go Green!

Me too, even if you are from "that state up north".  ;)

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Rick gave a real good explanation.  I too got laughed at by my LHBS (in a nice way of course) when I gave them my list of ingredients for a recipe I found since I had both DME and LME.  They asked why both since they were both pale?  I had not clue (I was a newbie).  They explained as Rick did that most commercial cans come in 3.3# so DME is used to make up any difference.  DME is real easy to store - just seal it up and put in a cool, dry spot.  Great if you miss your target gravity, need to make a yeast starter, or are doing a quick MrB batch and want to spice it up a bit.  LME on the other hand needs to be used fairly soon after the can is opened although you can store in the fridge by putting a small layer of vodka on top.  I get my LME in bulk, so if I need 7.25# they will weigh it for me that way.  But, I also keep DME in the brew pantry should I spill something or just do a stupid and fat fingered the recipe and ended up short a pound or so.

 

Unless you are getting something like wheat, rye, or marias otter LMEs (ie completely different grains), most everything else is based on a pale with steeps.  What you are getting with the others is the convenience of skipping a 30 minute or so steeping, which isnt really bad since they generally cost the same anyway.  But, when Rick and I buy in bulk, we limited to light, wheat, and munich, and as I steep regardless it doesnt really matter.

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