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Hi all,

 

I grabbed a cheap Oktoberfest kit online recently, but I definitely want to add a malt extract to it. In my first few attempts, all of my beers, no matter the style, have had the same sort of weak and "generic" taste to them. I did add a DME to my last batch of Canadian Blonde ale, and while it was noticeably better, it was still there. So my primary goal is to attain a full-bodied flavor and avoid that weak taste, and along with giving the beer plenty of fermentation time and keeping it the right temperature, I think the malt extract will be a big help again. 

 

Since I am making an Oktoberfest, I am guessing that the "Smooth" extract is the one that would best suit that style - is that correct? My only other question is if there is a strong preference for using DME over LME. The DME was a bit of a pain for a beginner like me, and I hear that the only thing different about the LME is that it might make the beer a tad darker - which I think I want anyway for this one.

 

Unfortunately I am paying twice as much in shipping as I am for the actual LME packet, but I don't think there's any avoiding it. I essentially got the rest of the kit for free, so oh well. Thanks for your help in advance!

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The difference between LME and DME is water.  DME is dried LME.  The difference in results, when using the proper amount, is zero. 

 

1 pound of LME = 0.8 pounds of DME

1 pound of DME = 1.25 pounds of LME

 

"Might make the beer darker" for LME is not correct, it would be the same effect as DME.  The longer you boil it, the darker it gets.  Maillard reaction.

 

Which one to use?  Checkout what Mr. Beer sells for the Deluxe version.  

 

You would probably like the Craft and Seasonal versions which are maltier already.

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I don't mean to contradict the ole master, but in my experience using LME has resulted in darker beer--particularly in IPA's.  I made a Juniper Berry IPA last year and was disenchanted by the dark color in the final product.  I asked my local guy why this happened and he told me that using LME generally results in a darker beer, and that I should try the exact same recipe (adjusting the amount of DME to match that of the LME) using DME.  The result was day & night!  Perhaps this was an anomaly, but since that day I use DME for a lighter (colored) beer and LME if I want it darker.  I'll stick one of each in the refrigerator and post pics in 3 days.  

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So I have 2 thoughts (no wait - 3):

First, Mr Beer states that their liquid malts get darker with age, so this could be a factor. However, LME is easier to add to the hot water. But use as fresh LME/HME as you can get. Following the Mr B instructions will be the best guarantee of a good result, diverging as I indicate below may change your result - but should not if you are careful about the sterilization.

 

Second, try not boiling it - or limiting the boiling - a minute is enough to sterilize - unless you are high altitude. If you are using a MR Beer recipe with their Hopped Extract, the only time you really should need to boil any malt is if you are adding bittering, boiling hops with malt. Otherwise, as long as everything is sterile, you should not need to boil the actual malt. If you are adding LME - it is easy to add to hot preboiled water, if DME, you can add to water when cool and stir while warming until dissolved and boil enough to sterilize the water (and hopefully not darken too much).  This is what I often do. However, the hotter the water, the better the malt will dissolve and  the better it will pour.

The malt extracts should be sterile and you could boil the water ahead of time if you want to sterilize it but not add DME to it hot, this way you could avoid boiling the mix.  I suppose also you could put the DME in the container, then boil water  (e.g. in a kettle) and pour it over the DME and stir to dissolve (disclaimer - I did not try this).

 

For more advanced recipes,  If you are using actual grains e.g. with partial mash or steep, you should boil that to sterilize at least.  If you are determined to add bittering boiling with malt, I don't think you need that much malt and you can use the lightest DME, starting to dissolve it in cool water to get least clumping and steam making the DME stick on the containers.  

Coopers - the MR B Parent company, for a number of its recipes do not have you boil the malt extract - just dissolve in hot water. Also for hops they also often specify a hop steeping separate from the wort then adding the liquor. This may not get you as much bitterness, but should get you a lot of flavor. So there is some flexibility there I think. You can look at their recipes for process ideas once you have had a few successes.

 

Oh, and using that much criticized "Booster" will give you a better drinking experience and feel to the beer and not add any coloration at all. I find that by adding mouthfeel, body and ABV, it provides a significant difference to the basic extracts  - although if you want more maltiness, it is not the thing to use.  But for me, often the base level of flavor is enough if the brew is beefed up a bit using the booster - and maybe adding a little aroma dry hop. Take this as a personal preference, since I am not a big fan of heavy malty high ABV beers although there are many here that are :-D. Although I do like the dark porters, but usually I don't make anything over 6% - mostly 3.5 to 5.5%.

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If you order a Golden LME and a packet of Cascade hops, you'll be making this well-reviewed MRB recipe.

If you order a Smooth LME and two packs of Booster, you'll get this one.

 

Here's MRB's page that shows all of their recipes that you can make with the Oktoberfest HME.  There are some really tasty choices and different styles there.

 

As to DME vs. LME, I've only ever used LME.  I've seen DME used and it appears to be a slow, frustrating process.  I brew for fun; if I want frustration I can get that elsewhere. :)

 

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 I would use Smooth with the Octoberfest.  The Smooth LME/DME will give a maltier and slightly sweeter taste due to the Cara/Crystal grains used to darken it, thus a little more body.  This would result in a beer that is more to style for an Octoberfest.

 

LME does result in a darker beer than DME.  When I brewed extract beers, I found that the best color match for style was achieved by using Extra Light DME and grains to achieve color.  When using straight LME, I could never get my Blonde ale to the light color that I really wanted.

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I've made the Oktoberfest adding Pale dme/lme and other times I've used amber dme/lme (same as smooth). To me the Pale version turned out more like what I expect a true Oktoberfest should be like.

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3 hours ago, Shrike said:

If you order a Golden LME and a packet of Cascade hops, you'll be making this well-reviewed MRB recipe.

If you order a Smooth LME and two packs of Booster, you'll get this one.

 

Here's MRB's page that shows all of their recipes that you can make with the Oktoberfest HME.  There are some really tasty choices and different styles there.

 

As to DME vs. LME, I've only ever used LME.  I've seen DME used and it appears to be a slow, frustrating process.  I brew for fun; if I want frustration I can get that elsewhere. :)

 

 

Thanks so much, Shrike! I have been meaning to try an easy recipe beyond the basic beer kit stuff, and adding an ingredient to two will help me justify the shipping cost as well.

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Alright, I decided I'm going to take a crack at the Rose's Ramblin' Red. Seems straightforward enough.

 

What are recommendations for fermenting/bottling time, temperature, etc. for this recipe? It looks like the instructions are pretty generic on the recipe's page, are they accurate?

 

Thanks for the information, everyone.

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7 minutes ago, KTreu42 said:

Alright, I decided I'm going to take a crack at the Rose's Ramblin' Red. Seems straightforward enough.

 

What are recommendations for fermenting/bottling time, temperature, etc. for this recipe? It looks like the instructions are pretty generic on the recipe's page, are they accurate?

 

Thanks for the information, everyone.

 

Best recommendation is to ferment all MRB recipes for three weeks.  I keep all of mine between 65-68F while fermenting.  Carbonation time is also normally three weeks; that's at room temperature, as is bottle conditioning.  For this recipe you could probably try one after four weeks in the bottle to see what it's like.  If it's tasty, then drink away.  If they need more time, I'd give them two-to-four more weeks, then try again.  Don't forget to put them in the fridge for three days before opening to allow the CO2 to re-absorb.

Let us know how the brewing goes in this thread.

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I've made the Howlin' Red Ale 3times now. It's a very good version of a red ale. I used S-O4 with the last batch and it is awesome!

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