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Old 03-04-2011, 08:11 PM   #1
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Default Low carb all grain brewing

Has anyone brewed a low carb beer? I was challenged by a fellow mate to make one for him and I really have no idea where to start. Any help is greatly appreciated.

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Old 03-04-2011, 08:30 PM   #2
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All calories in beer are from carbohydrates, so basically you are being tasked with brewing a light beer. Pretty much anything in the session category will fit the bill, though they of course have lower alcohol. Otherwise, you can try to reduce residual sugars by providing a very fermentable wort.

If you are looking for a low calorie, fuller bodied beer, consider English bitter or mild, Scottish 60/-, low gravity stouts, etc.

For a low calorie light beer, light adjuct lagers would be appropriate.

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Old 03-04-2011, 08:38 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MalFet View Post
All calories in beer are from carbohydrates,
Alcohol has calories too, specifically 7 kcal/g (compared to 4 kcal/g for carbohydrates).

I agree with everything else that you said, though.

Mash low for longer with a low OG beer and that should get you on your way. Some people like to add amylase or beano, but I'm not to fond of that myself.
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Old 03-04-2011, 08:59 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by devilishprune View Post
Alcohol has calories too, specifically 7 kcal/g (compared to 4 kcal/g for carbohydrates).

I agree with everything else that you said, though.

Mash low for longer with a low OG beer and that should get you on your way. Some people like to add amylase or beano, but I'm not to fond of that myself.
Alcohol does indeed have calories, but all the diet books tend to classify them as carbs for the sake of "counting carbs". In the technical sense, ethanol indeed has one too few oxygen atoms to count as a carbohydrate, but I doubt that's what his friend is thinking about when he says "low carb".

There is also a small amount of protein, but in the vast majority of beers it's a nutritionally trivial amount.
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Old 03-04-2011, 09:38 PM   #5
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So maybe my water to grain ratio should be higher too which will make it a lighter beer? This is all just an experiment for a guy that is trying to cut carbs.

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Old 03-04-2011, 11:14 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DoubleFisted
So maybe my water to grain ratio should be higher too which will make it a lighter beer? This is all just an experiment for a guy that is trying to cut carbs.
It really depends which way you want to go. For a medium alcohol, light bodied beer, that can work (though mash thickness isn't actually a huge factor in my experience). For a low alcohol, medium bodied beer, you'd want to do the opposite.
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Old 03-04-2011, 11:22 PM   #7
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If you mash your grains lower you'll have a lower FG... So, if you take that into account and make a relatively low OG brew (say 1.035-1.040 area) and mash at 148-150 (I would do at least 60 minutes, but if others have more experience there, chime in), you should get a FG that's in the low range (below 1.010)... You'll need to experiment with this over a few batches, getting the grain amount right. I think it will be tough to get blow the 150-175 cal/pint range... Or you won't want to drink it since it's so light/thin...

Running this through Beer Smith, to get something in that range you use a silly low amount of grain...

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Old 03-05-2011, 01:36 PM   #8
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Think about this: at the beginning of fermentation, you have a big pot of sugar. You did the best you could to extract as much sugar (energy/calories) from the malt as possible. At the point right before fermentation, it's at its maximum potential energy. Then, the yeast use some of this energy for their reproduction. This reduces the energy/calories in the beer.

So the more sugar you can coax the yeast to eat, the less calories in the final beer. Or put another way, the less sugars you can leave in the final beer, the less calories it has. That means making a low OG beer and mashing low, as people have mentioned, but also you can use amylase enzymes in the fermentor to convert more complex sugars into something the yeast can eat.

Fascinating stuff. Oh and tell your friend he's a weiner.

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Old 03-05-2011, 02:24 PM   #9
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Thanks for the great advice this is why I love HBT. And trust me I do call him a weiner but at least he is still drinking beer with this new diet fad he is trying I guess. We will see how this goes. I assume there is no real way to test how many carbs are in the end result?

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Old 03-05-2011, 02:38 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DoubleFisted View Post
Thanks for the great advice this is why I love HBT. And trust me I do call him a weiner but at least he is still drinking beer with this new diet fad he is trying I guess. We will see how this goes. I assume there is no real way to test how many carbs are in the end result?
Most of the recipe calculators will spit out a rough approximation of the number of calories in a beer. Depending on how his fad diet works, that may or may not be a good basis for figuring out "carbs". If he is just counting sugars (and not alcohol, like devilishprune mentioned), you can subtract out the caloric value of the alcohol by figuring out the absolute volume of alcohol in the batch. The protein will still be in there and I'm not sure how you'd figure that out, but my understanding is that it isn't a significant amount.
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