The World Of ESB – An Easy Recipe

A great beer to have on tap is an ESB. So what is an ESB?  ESB stands for Extra Special Bitter.  It’s a British style beer and one that is very much like our Pale Ale.  A normal Bitter is about 3.8%, the extra special ones are  above 4.8%.  This particular one is 5.7%.  ESB are pretty easy beers to drink.

Notes On This Beer Recipe

This beer is going to have a caramel undertone to it.  This is because it has crystal malt in the recipe.  Being that it has 60L it is going to give it bit of color.   The malt extract is six pounds of dry malt extract, it’s pretty standard for most pale ales.  Being that it is six pounds, it will give a nice malt back bone and also give the beer a higher ABV compared to a standard bitter. The hops in this beer are not too high in alpha acid, this allows for a well-rounded hop flavor and aroma (again, very much like a Pale Ale). The after taste is one that is going to be malt forward but well-balanced.   This is just a beer that is easy to drink no matter what time of year it is, and one that is pretty easy to share with friends and family. Really at the end this isn’t fancy beer, but there is beauty in simplicity

Chilling Hard


13 oz 60L crystal Malt

6 lbs Malt Extract Light (DME)

2 oz Tettnanger (60min)

1/2 oz Willamette (15min)

1 oz Tettnanger (10min)

WLP 001


OG:  1.056

FG: 1.013

IBU: 37

SRM: 13

ABV: 5.4%

Yield 5 Gallons


  • Heat 2.5 gallons of water to 150
  • Steep grains for 30 minutes
  • Take grains out
  • Add malt extract in
  • Bring to boil
  • Add 2 oz Tettnanger Hops
  • Boil for 45 minutes
  • Add Willamette Hops
  • Boil for 5 minutes
  • Add 1 ounce of Tettnanger hips
  • Boil for 10 minutes
  • End boil
  • Cool down, put in fermenter and pitch yeast
  • Let it ferment for 7 days
  • Put in bottles with 3/4 cup of corn sugar
  • Let it sit for 21 days

If you are looking to do it all grain, I would use the M.O for the base malt.  It will give it a bit more flavor.  Then again, if you wanted to just make a cheap beer for the summer time, you can use just regular 2-Row and it would work as well


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Formulas You Need To Know For ABV

Sometimes when making a recipe it’s a lot easier to work backwards.   Maybe you’ll think to yourself, “I would really like to make a beer that is 9% ABV”.  Well to know how to answer this question you can use a formula to figure out how much DME or LME to use.

To calculate ABV:

(ABV/0.84) = approximate number of pounds of DME to use in a recipe

(ABV/0.71)  = approximate number of pounds of LME to use in a recipe.

To show how this would work, lets say you want to make a 9.5% beer and you know you wanted to use dry malt extract.  The formula would look like this:

(9.5/0.84) =approximate number of pounds of DME to use in a recipe

(9.5/0.84) = 11.4 lbs of dry malt extract.

The other formula that might be helpful is if you think in OG instead of ABV.  When you are thinking in terms of original gravity the formula that you might want to use is this:

Using Extracts To Find Original Gravity:

(((Original Gravity – 1)(5))/0.044) = Approximate number of pounds of DME required to achieve correct original gravity

(((Original Gravity – 1)(5))/0.037) = Approximate number of pounds of  LME required to achieve correct original gravity

An example of how to use this formula is, if you wanted to have a gravity of 1.056 but you didn’t know how much malt extract add you would use the formula above

(((1.056-1)(5))/0.044) =

(((0.056)(5))/0.044) =

(.28/0.044) =

(.28/0.044) = 6.36 lbs of  dry malt extract to get a gravity of 1.056


This formula does not put into account the use of specialty grains.  So I would not hold an absolute value on the number that you get at the end rather, I would use these formula’s for ballpark figures.   If  you are an all-grain brewer, we do have a conversion chart to help you out with that as well, hope it helps.




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Answering The Question, “Which Is Better Dry Malt Extract Or Liquid Malt Extract?”

“What malt extract is better, dry or liquid?”  This is a pretty common question that homebrewers ask when deciding which one to use.  I unfortunately don’t have an answer in this post about which one is, “better” only because I don’t believe that there is one which is better.  At the end its preference.  I’ll break the two down though and hopefully at the end you’ll be able to figure out which one works best for your situation.

First Thing First, What Is Malt Extract?

For this whole time you have been adding malt extract to your beer and you didn’t know what you were adding?  This will no longer be the case.  Malt extracts are the fermentable sugars in your beer.  Essentially what you are doing is skipping a step, a shortcut if you will.  All-grain brewers make the fermentable sugars by mashing grains then rinsing the grains with water extracting all of the sugars.  This technique is called, “mashing”.  If you were to take that mash at its simplest form of base malts then boil it down, that is malt extract.  We have a conversion chart to kinda show that.

Dry malt extract is more concentrated than the liquid.  So for a recipe, if you were going to substitute 6 lbs of dry malt extract for liquid you can’t really use 6 lbs of liquid.  It would be more on the lines of 7.5lbs of liquid.

About Liquid Malt Extract

Liquid malt extract has its upsides, one is that it is generally cheaper when comparing pound to pound.   At the end you are not going to cut your recipe price in half but it is a way to shave some dollars off your brew day.  Another thing that is nice about malt extract is when you buy it from a homebrew shop that sells in bulk (we do) generally they can break it down to fractional pounds.  An example is at our shop we can break it down to .25 lbs.  This is a nice feature because you can buy for the recipe.  You find sometimes for recipes that it might say, 4.25 lbs LME.  What’s nice is you can buy exactly what you need for that recipe.

What I see as one of biggest downsides to liquid malt extract is it sinks to the bottom.   Now the reason why I say that this is disadvantage is, unless you have an extra set of hands normally you have a pretty high chance of burning the malt extract.  If you burn it bad enough, it can be the only thing you taste.   Now the ways to prevent this is 1) Have an extra set of hands 2)Take it off the burner and stir like crazy when adding it in 3) Don’t add all of your malt extract in the beginning of the boil.  By not adding all of your extract in the beginning of the boil you will also lighten your beer.  So problem solved.

(A Burning Sensation Usually  A Bad Thing)

About Dry Malt Extract

While a bit more expensive, you don’t have to buy as much.  The biggest upside to the dry malt extract is one thing, when you add the dry malt extract it ends up floating to the top.  I personally like this because your chances of burning it go down significantly.  There is a problem though, when you add the dry malt extract you end up having to stir like crazy still.  A lot of times also it will clump up into these dough ball looking things of malt.  Matza balls of malt extract is really what they look like.

I’ve also heard that people don’t like that it doesn’t sink to the bottom.  I can oddly understand their point as well.  The problem with dry malt extract is that when adding it to a boil, or even a steamy pot for that matter – steam will rush up into the bag and harden the malt extract to the bag.  Kinda a pain.  Honestly I’m not to sure of a way to prevent it either.

Wrapping It Up

I guess you can look at it a dozen different ways but at the end malt extract is definitely two different things, sticky and messy.  It’s really preference which one you prefer to work with.  I personally use both, I think that they both have their place in the homebrewing world.  If you have different or interesting insights into the extract world, please leave it in the space provided below.


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Lazy Chart For Converting – DME – LME -GRAIN

A lot of times, you need a reference chart in order to help convert from DME, LME, Grain and back.   This makes super fast work of converting LME and DME as well as grains.   Honestly this is one of the better cheat sheets that I’ve seen.  Really does make fast work when you’re in a pinch.

Grain Liquid Dry
1 0.75 0.6
1.5 1.125 0.9
2 1.5 1.2
2.5 1.875 1.5
3 2.25 1.8
3.5 2.625 2.1
4 3 2.4
4.5 3.375 2.7
5 3.75 3
5.5 4.125 3.3
6 4.5 3.6
6.5 4.875 3.9
7 5.25 4.2
7.5 5.625 4.5
8 6 4.8
8.5 6.375 5.1
9 6.75 5.4
9.5 7.125 5.7
10 7.5 6
10.5 7.875 6.3
11 8.25 6.6
11.5 8.625 6.9
12 9 7.2
12.5 9.375 7.5
13 9.75 7.8
13.5 10.125 8.1
14 10.5 8.4
14.5 10.875 8.7
15 11.25 9
15.5 11.625 9.3
16 12 9.6
16.5 12.375 9.9
17 12.75 10.2
17.5 13.125 10.5
18 13.5 10.8
18.5 13.875 11.1
19 14.25 11.4



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