Dry malt extract (DME)
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Brewing from liquid malt extract (LME) or dry malt extract (DME) (shown in picture) is called "extract" brewing while brewing straight from grain is called "all-grain" brewing.
On a per-batch basis, brewing all-grain costs considerably less than extract brewing as producing LME / DME requires additional steps. LME is made by dehydrating (usually unhopped) wort down to about 20 percent water. What is left is a goopy, molasses-like syrup. DME goes through an additional dehydration step which reduces the water content down to about 2 percent.
To be able to correctly brew the best tasting beer in any style imaginable, and to have ultimate control over the finished product, beer must be made straight from grain instead of from LME or DME. Our Electric Brewery setup is an all-grain brewing setup, but if you like you may still try extract brewing by boiling in the boil kettle. The other kettles are not used.
Brewers who use LME or DME only worry about the boil step of brewing (some specialty grains may also be steeped first lower temperatures). The brewer has no control over the mashing step - it is completely skipped as the wort has been pre-made for them. While the quality of LME and DME available to brewers has increased over the years, there will always be more types of grain available to all-grain brewers than types of LME / DME available to extract brewers as only a small percentage of base malts are offered as LME or DME. As well, the removal and re-addition of water affects the quality of the final product, no different than comparing freshly squeezed orange juice to that made from concentrate. Brewing all-grain will always offer the brewer ultimate control over their beer and the highest quality product.
We only use DME when making yeast starters as the quality of the beer that is being produced doesn't matter - we are only interested in growing more yeast.
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