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-   -   The trick to a great low-alcohol brew? (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f14/trick-great-low-alcohol-brew-141015/)

Nugent 10-11-2009 04:17 AM

The trick to a great low-alcohol brew?
Part of coming to terms with a problem is admitting it. Twelve steps, right?

My name is nugent and I really like lower alcohol beer. No, no, no ... I'm not talking terrible, mass-produced, "tastes great, less filling" swill. I'm talking beer that has been brewed - with the lower ABV in mind deliberately.

I was in the UK this summer and had some fabulous ales, many of which were < 4.0% ABV. Some of them blew me away - hoppy, malty, interesting and not watery and meaningless like C**rs L***t or Key****e L***t. Finding lower ABV brews in North America (yes, Canada too) is a challenge. From my experience, a brewer of really good lower alc beers takes the aspect of the flavour profile, that alcohol clearly provides, in mind when producing it. I'm in the process of working with different malts, hop types and addition times and yeast. I've started using yeast starters and fermentation control too. My question is really focused on the process.

The collective know-how on this forum could power a city for a year, so I'm looking for your wisdom on what you do or what you think should be done to really develop a deliberately-low OG brew into a fantastic finished product that make people go WOWSA!!! Please chime in regardless of style. I'm going to brew British-style ales, but brewing is brewing ultimately. Please don't be shy!

Thanks as always, HBTers. :mug:

Yooper 10-11-2009 04:48 AM

Oh, a British mild is a great beer! It's a session beer, where you can actually sit and drink half a dozen or so without any problem. I love them.

We had a mild swap last fall, and there were some wonderful milds. I made Jamil's recipe from Brewing Classic Styles, I believe, and the ABV was 3.2%. It was still a wonderfully flavorfull and rich beer, and I was very happy with it.

KYB 10-11-2009 04:56 AM

Kentucky Common man. My first I way overshot efficiency due to the 24hr mash, so it ended up being 6.1%. Second I dropped the base malt 1lb and it was 5.2%. Next I am brewing completely to style (Wednesday). Should be low to mid 4% with my efficiency, with a 6.75lb grain bill. Style guidelines at 10-11 Balling, so 1.039-1.043 roughly OG. Check out the links in my sig for more info on it if interested. I'm not sure how this next one is going to be, but we'll see in a few weeks. It was huge before prohibition. 80% of the beer around here was KY Common. I was doing 4oz of chocolate malt and 4oz of crystal, but dropping it to 2oz to abide by the style. The recipe is the second post in the link my my sig, along with the others.

Never had a mild, but people seem to really like them.

Nugent 10-11-2009 05:05 AM

Milds are great! I made one earlier in the year and really liked it. Actually, in my noobish knowledge of beer styles in the past (i.e. 2008), I thought that a mild was any low-alcohol beer :o. Not that I'm anywhere near knowledgeable now, though :).

I was told by my LHBS guru that higher mash temps (slightly < 154* F) will create more mouthfeel and body, but what other things are there to consider in this case?

Do malt types or hop additions help make a low alc brew 'fuller' or is it more part of the mash?

Thanks to Revvy and YooperBrew for chiming in so quickly on this. Expertise is why I always start and move forward on this forum.


LordHedgie 10-11-2009 05:50 AM

I've got a great porter on tap with a bunch of chocolate wheat that came out to 3.6% alcohol. Non-fermentable grains can be used to add flavor and mouthfeel without bumping ABV.

Malticulous 10-11-2009 06:10 AM

Here in Utah all the beer in the regular stores are 4% ABV or less. It's surprising how close some of the big breweries can brew their major brands with lower gravities. I wish I know how they do it.

flyangler18 10-11-2009 10:49 AM

I <3 Mild! :D

It's one of my favorite styles to brew, as a matter of fact.

Because both the alcohol and carbonation level is so low, you need to boost the body to keep the delicate flavors from simply vaporizing on your palate.

Crystal malts and character malts like Vienna and Munich will boost body, as will mash temperatures that favor alpha-amylase and longer dextrin chains. I personally mash my mild at 158 for 40 minutes.

Orfy 10-11-2009 11:44 AM

one word.


I've been drinking it for 25 years!

woodenbuick 10-11-2009 12:33 PM

How do they do it, according to my brewere friends at Miller / Coors they start with beer that is 7 - 8 % abv and then water it down.
I have tried the same trick, but have been unhappy with the results.

Yooper 10-11-2009 01:28 PM


Originally Posted by woodenbuick (Post 1602097)
How do they do it, according to my brewere friends at Miller / Coors they start with beer that is 7 - 8 % abv and then water it down.

I would guess that is why it tastes thin and watery.

Besides mild, I like an alt beer (the German version of a session beer) and lower ABV blonde ales, too.

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