What's the difference between dry malt and liquid malt (extract)?

Thursday, April 15, 2021
If you're an avid beer brewer, you've likely heard of Liquid Malt Extract (LME) and Dry Malt Extract (DME). These two common ingredients are crucial for adding fermentable sugars to your wort. While the difference between the two may seem minimal, understanding the nuances can help you create a better beer.

One of the key differences between LME and DME is the water content, which affects the sugar content. Therefore, it is not recommended to substitute LME for DME or vice versa if you want to stay true to a beer recipe. However, a simple conversion formula can be used to determine the equivalent amount of one to the other.

If you're a new brewer using extract kits, you may not need to worry too much about which type of malt extract you use. However, adding a little something extra to your malt kit can help elevate the flavor profile of your beer. One popular option is a 'beer enhancer' that typically contains DME.

When it comes to using DME or LME, there are some pros and cons to consider. DME is prone to clumping and becomes difficult to work with due to its moisture-absorbing properties. However, it has a longer shelf life than LME, making it a popular choice for many brewers. LME can lead to darker beer coloration and boilovers, but its flavor profile is often preferred by some brewers.

Some popular brands of malt extract for brewing include Briess, Muntons, and Coopers. In addition to LME and DME, spray malt is another popular option that can be used as a substitute for sugar, especially in lighter beer styles.

To help you achieve the desired gravity for your beer, it's important to remember the ratios when using DME or LME. For example, 1 kilogram or a pound of DME will raise your original gravity more than 1 pound or kilogram of LME. As a general rule of thumb, 4 pounds of DME is equivalent to 5 pounds of LME.

In conclusion, understanding the differences between LME and DME and how they work in the brewing process can help you create a better beer. While there is no significant difference between the two, knowing the conversion ratios can allow you to substitute one for the other if necessary. As always, it's about trial and error to find what works best for your beer.

DME and LME for brewing beer

Here are a few additional details about the use of DME and LME in beer brewing that you may find useful:

Use of Spray Malt: In addition to DME and LME, spray malt is another type of malt extract that can be used in beer brewing. Spray malt is essentially DME that has been partially dried and then sprayed onto a carrier (such as maltodextrin) to make it easier to use. It is often used as a substitute for sugar or as a way to boost the body and maltiness of a beer.

Use in All-Grain Brewing: While DME and LME are commonly used in extract brewing, they can also be used in all-grain brewing as a way to supplement the grain bill and increase the gravity of the wort. This can be especially useful when brewing high-gravity beers like barleywines or imperial stouts.

Impact on Flavor: While DME and LME are both made from malted barley, they can have slightly different flavor profiles. Some brewers prefer the malty, caramel-like flavors of LME, while others prefer the cleaner, more neutral flavor of DME. Experimenting with both types can help you find the flavor profile that works best for your recipe.

Measuring and Storage: When measuring out DME or LME, it's important to use a scale to get an accurate measurement. Storing DME in an airtight container can help prevent it from clumping due to moisture, while LME should be stored in a cool, dry place away from light to prevent it from darkening.


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