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Old 11-10-2008, 09:04 PM   #1
CiderPat
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Default "Small" (low-alcohol) beer- anyone tried it?

I'm researching historical "small" beer for purposes of reenactment and coming up with a good-tasting, low-alcohol beer that can be enjoyed all day without all that messy passing out business. Has anyone tried this before? (Nothing came up in a search). Here's what I've got going so far (I'm doing 1 gallon batches in case I need to pour it out):

--Add 2 lbs. American 2-row barley, 2 oz. Cascade hops, and 4 oz. Chocolate Malt to 1 gal. of water and boil for 1 hour. Cool, strain, pour into fermenter, top up with water, pitch some yeast, let ferment for 1 week, prime and bottle for 2 weeks (This makes a batch of regular beer).

--Take the "spent" grain and hops from the previous step, add 1 gal water and boil again. Again, cool, strain, pour into another fermenter, top up with water, pitch some yeast, let ferment for 1 week, prime and bottle for 2. This becomes the batch of small beer.

The small beer I came up with is 2.5% ABV (matching estimates of historical small beer) and fermenting away nicely. Hopefully using all-grain (or at least all-barley, if I have to make bigger batches than I want to go whole-grain for), will keep the beer flavorful enough without the extra malt.

Anyway, let me know what you think- I'll continue to experiment if this batch comes out bad, but wanted to hear if anyone had any other advice for making low-alcohol beer.

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Old 11-10-2008, 09:16 PM   #2
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I wouldn't boil your grains...

you should mash your grains in ~154* water for an hour, then boil, add your hops, boil for an hour, etc...

2 oz. of hops seems like a lot for a one gallon batch also.

Just curious - what do you mean by: "for purposes of reenactment"?

regardless - good on ya' for experimenting

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Old 11-10-2008, 09:18 PM   #3
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Mild!

That's all I got!

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Old 11-10-2008, 09:20 PM   #4
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Table Beer..........

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Old 11-10-2008, 09:29 PM   #5
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Small beers are often made with the second runnings from a larger beer (like an old ale or a barleywine). Do a search on parti-gyle. If you're doing all-grain, you could take your first runnings for something big, your second runnings for something small. I'm not sure where you're at in terms of your brewing, though; you never want to boil your grains. Are you an AG brewer? You've got to mash those grains or they aren't going to do you any good.

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Old 11-10-2008, 09:32 PM   #6
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Try a Dry Stout, Mild, Ordinary Bitter, Blonde, or maybe some type of lager. Mash a little higher than you otherwise would (a couple of degrees), bump up the specialty malts a little, and add something for body like flaked barley, carapils, or maltodextrine. Also, use a low attenuating yeast (for British beers I tend to go with Fermentis Safale S-04).

That's it. Now Brew!

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Old 11-10-2008, 09:33 PM   #7
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the only commercial 'small beer' I ever had was Anchor's and although it's a decent beer I'm not a big fan, too plain for me. But if you want to talk session beers I'm all about some low gravity bitters, specials, and bests with ogs around 1.034-45. Not technically small (party gyle)beers though.

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Old 11-10-2008, 09:34 PM   #8
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Check out Milds and for heavens sake don't boil grains you wont end up with anything to ferment and it will taste nasty. If your an all-grain brewer you probably already knew this otherwise if your new to this check out some of the recipes on this forum and try using extract until you feel comfortable doing all-grain.

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Old 11-10-2008, 09:35 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TeleTwanger View Post
the only commercial 'small beer' I ever had was Anchor's and although it's a decent beer I'm not a big fan, too plain for me. But if you want to talk session beers I'm all about some low gravity bitters, specials, and bests with ogs around 1.034-45. Not technically small (party gyle)beers though.
I was really disappointing in Anchor's example. Not sure if it's truly representative of a table beer or not, but it was very bland, no body, nothing to it. I really wanted to like it, too.
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Old 11-10-2008, 09:41 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the_bird View Post
I was really disappointing in Anchor's example. Not sure if it's truly representative of a table beer or not, but it was very bland, no body, nothing to it. I really wanted to like it, too.
Yeah considering how much I love their Porter, Steam, and Liberty the small was pretty boring. I know they make it from the second runnings of thier barley wine and I'm pretty sure that is a single malt wort. What I love about session beers is thier complexity and the ability to use several different grains to make a balanced, yet complicated beer.
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