Derrick Moore

Greetings from a 75-year old from Telford!

 Although I have been a member of the forum for some time, this is my first post, but rest assured that I have avidly followed many of the discussions on here.

Perhaps I should explain at the outset that, although I tried all-grain brewing some years ago, I was not too successful.  In more recent years, I have used “quality” liquid malt extracts (LMEs) such as Brupaks, Briess and Muntons with extremely good results that have been well received by my tasting panel (one of whom keeps a pub, so should know what he is talking about).

My particular approach to brewing is comparing hops, and especially their flavours and aromas.  I use single hops for bittering, flavour and dry-hopping purposes in pale ales.  My usual brew is of something like 1040 OG and of about 33 IBUs, so that the bitterness has some sort of kick without masking the flavour of the hops.  At this point I should perhaps point out that, although Dave Line’s book “Brewing beers like those you buy” (original version) proposed using flavour hops at half an ounce (14g) per five gallons and a quarter of an ounce (7g) for dry-hopping, I generally increase these amounts by half again.  I do like my hops!

You might think, given that I have introduced my brewing activities as those of a hop-forward brewer, that this thread has to do with hops, but in fact it concerns LMEs.  As I said earlier, I have had superb results using Muntons, Briess and Brupaks extracts, which generally cost about £6.33-7.33 per kilo on the internet.  However, I have noticed that some of the suppliers on the internet are offering alternative LMEs.  For example, The Homebrewing Company has its own (£3.77/kilo); Malt Miller’s comes out at £4.42-4.80/kilo; Brewsmarter offers a best-before, short- dated version at £3.32-3.83/kilo; and Beer Hawk suggests one at £4.77-4.89/kilo.

My question is (yes, I am finally getting there) what experience my fellow-members have of using these alternatives.  I would like to explore this from two points of view.  Firstly, are they as good value as they appear, i.e. do they have the same viscosity as the more well-known varieties and are capable of giving an OG of 1040 at the rate of 3 kilos per five gallons? Secondly, do they have a less-than-good effect on the taste of the beer?

At this point, I should explain that I am fortunate in not having to pinch too many pennies, and that I am able - and prefer - to brew up to a quality rather than down to a cost.  However, we all like a good bargain, and I would like to know what experience other good people have had of these other LMEs.

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Clibit
Greetings Derrick, great first post.

I have used the Homebrew Company and Brewsmarter LMEs with very good results - give them a try. I haven't used the Maltmiller LME, but intend to - their products are very good, and I reckon the LME will be very good quality. 

Do you steep grains too? I find that can really improve the final beer. And what about varying the yeasts? I like to try different yeasts as they can make a substantial difference. 

Which hops do you particularly like? And what styles do you brew?
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Fermented Culture
It looks like brewsmarter and the homebrew company have the same descriptions, it seems they are in probably supplied in cans. With the malt miller it looks like they have ordered a drum of malt extract then put it into jerry cans. If you email rob (maltmiller) for the specifications of the malt extract you can probably compare it with other specifications on the market to see where it originated. Here's the muntons specification sheet for comparison - http://www.muntonsmicrobrewing.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/160830-Craft-supplement_July-2016.pdf
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GHW
Hey Derrick glad you joined the fun.
I haven’t used these but as FC implies, it would not be surprising if many of these own brand liquid extract were the same thing, and possibly even the same as one of the more established brands, just repackaged.

However I’m speculating and have no evidence for this either way!

But, for a couple of quid saving it would be worth giving one a go and seeing what results you get. I’d be willing to bet there’s very little difference.
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Hops_and_Dreams
Hi Derrick and welcome to the forum.

As Gareth says, I'd doubt there's a lot of difference between the lot. I'd be inclined to try a brew with one of the cheaper ones and see what results you get. If there's any difference, I'm sure you'll still end up with a good beer. If it's not quite up to scratch, you can go back to the more expensive versions.

I'd also second the quality of the Malt Miller generally.
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Derrick Moore

Many thanks for the comments, which were of a supportive nature.  I am sorry for the delay in replying, but I have been laid low with sciatica.

 

If I go back to about 1978, when I first started brewing, I used to buy ingredients from a local chemist (no Boots in those days).  The malt extract was dried, and hops were loosely packed and I cannot remember whether they were just “hops” or Fuggles or Goldings.  Looking back, I can see that the extract would have been of a “food” grade rather than a “brewing” grade; and would have been responsible for the homebrew tang that acted as a discouragement to my efforts.  That changed when I became aware of Brupaks’ excellent LME.  That acted as a spur to my “career”.  I suppose that this explanation goes some way to explaining my original question about the quality of alternative LMEs.  On that point, I mentioned Brupaks, Muntons and Briess, which are all excellent.  I have used Coopers once, but I found it darker than I would have liked, although the flavour was decent enough.  I have some Mangrove Jacks for my next brew - the first time that I will have used it.  One thing that I ought to have mentioned about the other LMEs is that Beer Hawk offers some more exotic products, such as Munich, Vienna and Rye LMEs.  Their options as to weight are of a matching exotic nature - 1.43 kg or 2.72 kg - but I am sure that we could work around that in designing a recipe.

 

Dealing with the various queries:

 

1. Styles.  My focus is on comparing hops rather than brewing to a specific style, and I use a more-or-less standard formula of 1040 OG and bitterness of around 33 IBU.  While all of these are pale ales (so that the malt does not interfere too much with the hops) I do occasionally brew a dark ale, which might be a mild or a porter.  (Briess do a porter extract, which is superb).

 

2.  Steeping.  Yes, I sometimes steep crystal or carapils grains.

 

3. Favourite hops.  Quite a few years ago, I came upon a description of Cascade as being one for the hopheads, and I decided that I wanted to be a hophead!  Thus it was that Cascade was for a long time my favourite, but that changed when I brewed with Mosaic - such a complexity of flavours!  I was so influenced by this hop that I brewed with it again within a short time, which is rare for me because I am always anxious to try another hop.

 

I think that my second favourite is Apollo.  I gave a couple of bottles to a member of my tasting/testing panel, who happens to own a pub so should know what he is talking about, and he commented that I could brew that one again!

 

 

 

My next brews will use Equinox/Ekuanot, Enigma, Hull Melon and Eureka (single-hopped).

 

4. Yeasts.  Yes, I quite often split my brews to use different yeasts.  I have not yet found any objectionable, but there are differences.  They are subtle ones, which are beyond my powers of description!  They provide another interest for my tasting/testing panel.

 

(My reason for trying different yeasts is a little bit of a story, but it explains something about my brewing history and may give a guide to those - shall I say? - of a certain age.  I used to follow the advice of, for example, Graham Wheeler, and move my stuff to a secondary fermentation vessel.  The time came for me to renew my FVs, so I chose the wide-neck, screw-top variety.  My choice was aided by the fact that Tesco were offering them at £10 each.  Anyhow, I bought two of those.

 

A little time after, I read on the internet somewhere that using a second FV is unnecessary for beers such as those that I brew - i.e. not of the knock-out variety - so I decided to use one FV.  The results were very good, thus meaning that I had a spare FV of 5 gallons capacity.

 

More recently, and you may recall that I am now in my 76th year, I have been thinking that lifting 5 gallons of ale is rather strenuous, so I decided to split my brews into less heavy weights.  If I was going to split them, why not use different yeasts?)

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Clibit
Thanks for all the background to your brewing Derrick. I'm a fan of Cascade, and Centennial is perhaps my favourite. I used Apollo once and really liked that too. 

The split batches are a great idea, I do them sometimes, to test different hops or yeast.

I suspect that Maltmiller will decant their LME from a much larger container. It's sure to be good, they don't sell stuff unless it is good quality, in my experience. They will sell plenty too, so it will be fresh.

I use grain to keep the cost down, but often do partial mash brews. If you get good quality extract you can make great beer, I completely agree.


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GHW
I’m with you on both cascade and mosaic, Derrick. Which reminds me I need to add my second mosaic dry hop to my Belgian pale tomorrow!
Cascade is the quintessential hop for a US style pale, love it.
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