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Old 12-21-2010, 10:18 PM   #1
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Default Extremely low gravity beers - anyone has experience brewing them ?

I'm mainly talking about sub 1.030 brews that are still "beery": not Kvaas or other alcoholic beverage not made from hops, barley and water, altough I'm sure they can be delicious. I was reading the Shut up about Barclay Perkins blog and stumbled on the figures for Mild during WWI and was astonished to see the low gravities (sometimes as low as 1.023!) that the 4d beer were sporting.

I like me some low-gravity session ales and was wondering if such "thin" offerings still had the mouthfeel and taste of beer. I like the challenge of brewing something that is very low in alcohol that is still delicious: Bob's Mild at around 1.035 felt like a much bigger beer. Anybody has experience/tips about brewing such a "reverse monster" ?

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Old 12-21-2010, 10:23 PM   #2
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I made a beer from some second runnings that was 1.034, I wanted to go all Columbus as I was obsessed with them at the time and wanted to taste what they would be like, I bittered it to about 33-34 IBUs right with the gravity so an even BU/OG scale, finished at 1.004 and was a fantastic beer one I would probably make on it's own actually.

Tasted like a really light session IPA which is what I was shooting for actually.


Here are the numbers

Amount Item Type % or IBU
4.47 lb Great Western American Pale (3.0 SRM) Grain 60.53 %
1.69 lb Munich Malt (9.0 SRM) Grain 22.86 %
0.80 lb Rye, Flaked (2.0 SRM) Grain 10.90 %
0.21 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L (40.0 SRM) Grain 2.86 %
0.21 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt - 80L (80.0 SRM) Grain 2.86 %
0.35 oz Columbus (Tomahawk) [14.00 %] (60 min) Hops 17.1 IBU
0.50 oz Columbus (Tomahawk) [14.00 %] (20 min) Hops 14.8 IBU
0.50 oz Columbus (Tomahawk) [14.00 %] (0 min) Hops -
1 Pkgs California Ale (White Labs #WLP001) [StartYeast-Ale

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Old 12-21-2010, 10:27 PM   #3
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I've never gone quite that low! I've brewed a 1.039 oatmeal stout (finished at 1.016), for a 3.12% ABV that was was great.

I made a "session IPA" that was at 1.043 and ended up at 3.99% ABV. It was really good, too, as a session IPA.

I've never had great success with anything else (besides a mild) in a very low OG beer.

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Old 12-21-2010, 10:49 PM   #4
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I've done a few berliner weiss that clocked in at 1.032, but nothing sub-1.030. Sounds like a fun project.

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Old 12-21-2010, 11:01 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfr1111 View Post
I like me some low-gravity session ales and was wondering if such "thin" offerings still had the mouthfeel and taste of beer. I like the challenge of brewing something that is very low in alcohol that is still delicious
I brew a lot of milds and session bitters and even the occasional 'baby' IPA, with most of these are around 1032-40. For me, the key for small beers is keeping them all malt for a fuller flavor and using a healthy amount of crystal or other malt that adds some body. I know a lot of historical recipes call for adjuncts in their low gravity beers, but I tend to leave them out as they can lend a pretty thin mouthfeel and flavor. One of my favorite low gravity beer's I make is an IPA with a starting gravity of 1.040, hopped to hell with amarillo and simcoe. It's only 3.8% but tastes like a miniature IIPA.
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Old 12-21-2010, 11:06 PM   #6
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Quote:
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I've never had great success with anything else (besides a mild) in a very low OG beer.
Milds in general, at least the home brewed ones, do tend to have a high proportion of speciality malts along with an all malt grist. I'm guessing that upping the crystal/roasted malts percentages, along with an increase in mash temperature would be beneficial flavour and colour wise in such a low gravity beer. Keeping the final gravity in check would be critical: dry beers do tend to be perceived as being lower bodied. Mouthfeel increasing ingredients (oats, flaked barley, carapils) would also be beneficial, I think.

The only drawback (but it's a big one) is that such low alcohol offerings also tend to be low in hopping rates, as to not end with an overly bitter beer, wich in turn makes the beer less stable and more prone to spoilage. Ie. drink it fast.

What about carbonation levels ? Do you guys (and gals) think that it would play a role in the perception of the final product ? I know that Milds tend to be very low in carbonation.
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Old 12-21-2010, 11:46 PM   #7
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Sounds like some really good "lawn mowing beers" when you need to cut the lawn trim the hedges, and edge the whole yard, weed & mulch the flower bed... all that turns into a 6 pack job!

Found this Calculator for Volumes of Co2:
http://www.tastybrew.com/calculators/priming.html

Bottling I usually got more carbed than I would have preferred on low gravity beers. Now that I found this and I'm kegging two out of 3 batches (have the handy dandy pressure to temp chart) I may actually bottle a few of the low gravity beers again. I love milds but I wasn't pleased with the bottled ones I've done just bc they were too fizzy!

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Old 12-22-2010, 02:02 PM   #8
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I have two brews on my schedule. Maybe I should switch one of them to a Low Gravity session beer. I've been wanting to do a mild for a while. And now I have the capability to lager. Maybe I just need to brew about 4 batches!

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Old 12-23-2010, 07:16 PM   #9
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Do brew a mild, they are awesome. I'll post my sub 1.030 recipe pretty soon for people to look over before I brew it in the first week of January. I also have an ESB planned for that weekend with maybe another batch of dry stout, altough I already have two cases of porter in bottles.

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Old 01-11-2011, 09:14 PM   #10
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Here's the recipe, aptly called "Recession Mild":

OG: 1.028 (yes!)
SRM: 20
IBU: 17
Est. Alc. 2,64

4,00 lb Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3,0 SRM) Grain 72,73 %
0,75 lb Extra Dark Crystal 135 (135,0 SRM) Grain 13,64 %
0,50 lb Pale Chocolate Malt (250,0 SRM) Grain 9,09 %
0,25 lb Oats, Flaked (1,0 SRM) Grain 4,55 %
0,75 oz Willamette [5,50 %] (60 min) Hops 16,3 IBU
1 Pkgs SafAle English Ale (DCL Yeast #S-04) Yeast-Ale

Mash @ 160
Ferment at the med to high range of yeast to produce some esters

I went by Jamil's suggestion to use a high proportion of spciality malt in very low gravity beers to keep the mouthfeel from becoming too watery/thin (he basically advocates keeping the amounts the same when dropping gravity). I might sub the small amount of oats for cooked pearl barley (I don't have flaked on hand).

Not so sure about the yeast yet. I might just use London Ale III since I'm mianly looking to produce a cake for my Barleywine and its the use I've finally chosen for it.

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