Brew Session: Extract Brown Ale – First Brettanomyces Brew

  When I received this extract kit from one of my good friends for my birthday, I thought: What could I do with an extract kit? The kit was a Northern English Brown recipe kit and I was not feeling the brown ale thing at all. Not very inspiring. I think my buddy got this kit, not really knowing what to get me, but it was his idea to add the Brett to it. GREAT IDEA! I have had this White Labs vial sitting in my fridge for a month or two now and I have written several recipes for it, but haven’t decided ultimately what to do with it. Now I had this recipe kit that seemed like it would work well with. Why not try it and see.


The 60 min boil. Extract has not been added yet. The contraption over the pot is my hop strainer.

  • Extract beers are not my favorite
Its been a long time since I’ve done an extract brew for myself. Better than two years or so. The last one I made was a wheat beer extract batch that turned out completely horrible. Not sure what the problem was: bad extract, scorched extract, bad brew session(me), crappy yeast?? The list could go on and on. I ended up dumping it out, it had that many off flavors. Two months ago I helped my same friend brew his first beer: an extract. When it was kegged 3 weeks later it had that same “twang” that I remembered from my last one. He did a Scottish Ale that had smoked peat malt in the steeping grains.  (editorial) peat malt is the worst malt on the planet!! Try it yourself if you dare….makes a good whiskey malt, but tastes completely off and has NO business in a beer recipe let alone a Scottish Ale. It is not authentic in any style …except for Scotch Whiskey– Just my opinion. I was not sure of this contributed to the off flavor. However,when compared to a side by side tasting of some of my all-grain beers that I had on tap at the time and this extract batch, it had that “twang” . I have heard from many all grain brewers that extracts have what they call an extract twang, but I never could understand what they meant until now. I was wondering if this is what they meant. 
I got a tip from a fellow brewer: add all the extract towards the end of the 60 min boil. He said that would help get rid of that flavor. So that’s what I did.

Steeping the chocolate,crystal 120, and the Special Roast malts before adding the extract.

First things first

Added about 7 gallons to my 15.5 gal brewpot. Took the steeping grains that came with the kit and added them to a muslin bag. It contained 1 cup of chocolate malt, 2 cups of crystal 120, and I added 7 oz of special roast to give it some extra nutty flavor. I steeped the grains for about 25 mins and then brought it up to a boil, (I removed the grains just before it started to boil). I added an oz of fuggles and started the timer for a 60 min boil. Again the instructions said to add the extract as the very first step, and I had not added it yet. I was going to try my colleague’s  advice  and add it in the last 15 mins.

  • Adding the extract last


With 15 mins left, I took the pot off of the burner and added 5 lbs of dried malt extract and stirred it into the wort. Not sure if this made a difference or not, but I stopped my timer until I got the wort back to a rolling boil, then started the timer again  for the last 15 mins. All of these steps will hopefully avoid that twangy off flavor that has been prevalent in the extracts in the past.

  • The recipe (kit) 

Anticipated Original Gravity: 1.049

5 lbs dried malt extract (dme)

8oz of chocolate malt

1lb of crystal 120L

7oz of special roast malt (briess)

Nottingham Dry Yeast

1oz of English Fuggle hops (added at the start of the boil)

.5 oz of Northern Brewer whole hops (added with 2 mins left in boil)


The plan is to add the Brett to the secondary. I am hoping there will be enough dextrine left in the beer to keep the brett happy. I think with 1 LB of crystal it should be okay. I am not too sure of the extract, (add this is why I don’t like using it for an entire batch), meaning I do not know what the manufacturer used in the process of making the extract. Is it 2-row and carapils malt? Just 2-row? Pale malt? All of this can factor in when adjusting for attenuation. Especially in this case where I want the extra unfermentables to feed the Brett yeast. If there isn’t enough unfermentables, the Brett won’t show as much “Brett” character. The Brett yeast are able to digest more complex sugars than the usual run-of-the-mill Saccharomyces (beer yeast). It is because of this reason that a high level of dextrine is important.

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