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Malt Extracts – Liquid vs Dry

Saturday, April 5th, 2008

Liquid Malt Extract (LME) and Dry Malt Extract (DME) can produce a very noticeable difference in the taste and body of beer, holding yeast, hops, temperature, and other variables constant.

In general, bulk LME will produce a beer that is darker, and retains a sweet caramel flavor. This may be desirable depending on the style of beer that is being made. Certain specialty LME’s come pre-hopped and might also be designed for a specific style of beer.

In terms of how much fermentable sugar you get:
LME is ~37 points/pound/gallon
DME is ~46 points/pound/gallon

LME is a thick syrup and is cheaper by the pound (because it is 20% water), but that does not translate into more sugars per dollar. DME is in a powder form (LME with the water removed). On a per point of SG basis, they are about the same cost. Both come in varying degrees of color (extra light, light, amber, dark, etc). They are also available as a 60/40 wheat/barley mix.

LME Pro’s:
Great for beginner brewers.
Available in specialty varieties, some pre-hopped.

LME Con’s:
Darkens beer more so than the DME counterpart.
Caramel flavor imparted.
If bought in bulk you need to supply your own jar or buy one at the store to bring it home in.

DME Pro’s:
DME is sold in vacuum sealed bags and is easier store for longer periods of time (as opposed to LME which is either canned, kept in a jar which may contain air which degrades the quality).
A more neutral base, as it does not impart its own characteristics, allowing total flexibility in terms of steeping grains.

DME Con’s:
Can lead to boil over if not stirred enough before boiling is reached.

Most people start with LME and then switch to DME plus steeping grains on their way to becoming all-grain brewers.

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  2. Jan 17, 2010: dry extract to liquid

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