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Old 04-21-2012, 02:48 PM   #1
killsurfcity
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Default Flavorful "Small" or "Session" beer. Less base malt?

Recently I've been interested in making very low alcohol beers, and especially flavorful ones that go beyond being utility beers. Thus far, I've perfected my version of a berliner weisse at 3%, but I want to do something with as much flavor, just not sour. I made a decent dark mild last year, but I still think it could have had a fuller taste and mouth feel. I'd also like to experiment with hoppy ones, as so many of my friends like hop forward beers.

In reading a bunch of historical brewing texts, I've come across multiple (rather sketch-like so not THAT useful) recipes for beer that use 100% highly kilned malts. I started to think about it, and it seemed to me that instead of lowering the quantity of all the ingredients to make a beer lower ABV, why not just omit a portion of the base malt? It's mostly just contributing alcohol anyway.

For instance, why not take a nice IPA recipe, and back off the base malt to move it from a heavy 7% to a more easy drinking 4.5%?

I'm thinking there's likely a reason I've never heard of anyone doing this, but I thought i'd put it out there anyway.

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Old 04-21-2012, 03:09 PM   #2
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The same hop schedule in a small beer will taste more intense and may throw it out of balance, but North Peak makes a good session IPA so it can be done.

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Old 04-21-2012, 03:22 PM   #3
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Yeah, I figured you'd probably want to step back the hops some. There are lots of examples of small IPAs in the UK. Even some as light as 3.4%. Though I find the Brits tend to like their beers a bit less flavorful than I'd prefer, so using one of their recipes probably won't do it for me.

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Old 04-21-2012, 03:32 PM   #4
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Reducing the base malt quantity while keeping the accessory grain content constant is what Jamil Z uses as his approach for his Scottish beers (60 through Wee Heavy). That makes sense and aids in reducing fermentability in the smaller beers.

Of course, dialing back the bittering in proportion to the gravity will be neccessary to maintain the balance. The BU/GU approach is a good start for estimating the bittering reduction needed. Fine tuning the recipe after tasting is one of those joys of brewing.

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Old 04-21-2012, 03:43 PM   #5
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I had no idea about the Jamil thing. Thanks for that. I'll have to read up on it. What's BU/GU?

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Old 04-21-2012, 03:49 PM   #6
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BU/GU is the concept that Ray Daniels presents in Designing Great Beer. That is the bittering units and gravity units. So take the IBUs predicted for your beer and divide that by the starting gravity of the wort. A wort with a 1.055 gravity has 55 gravity units. A wort with 1.075 gravity has 75 gravity units. Lop off the 1.0 from the gravity to get the gravity units for use in that ratio.

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Old 04-21-2012, 05:44 PM   #7
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Oh, interesting. Thanks!

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Old 04-21-2012, 09:39 PM   #8
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I use the bitterness to gravity ratio all over the place when I design beers for myself or my wife. My tastes run from 0.6-1.0 IBU/GU while hers are more like 0.4-0.6. I recommend you analyze some of your very favorite beers to uncover whether or not your taste clusters about a specific number; you may be surprised!

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Old 04-22-2012, 01:13 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChemE View Post
I use the bitterness to gravity ratio all over the place when I design beers for myself or my wife. My tastes run from 0.6-1.0 IBU/GU while hers are more like 0.4-0.6. I recommend you analyze some of your very favorite beers to uncover whether or not your taste clusters about a specific number; you may be surprised!
Good idea! I've seen these calculations before, but never paid much attention. Maybe time to start looking at that.
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Old 04-22-2012, 01:25 PM   #10
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Thanks for a great formula. I can use it as a predictor for the flavor of some of my "experiments". Helps to reduce waste if you know in advance if it will/won't fit into your taste preferences.
Bob

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