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Old 06-06-2007, 01:16 PM   #1
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Default Big Beer/Small Beer Question

Is there a cut-off in the SG or FG that determines whether a beer is classified as Big or Small? I see the terms all the time and am just wondering. The "biggest" that I have brewed was an IPA that started at 66 and finished at 13. Would that be considered Big?

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Old 06-06-2007, 04:47 PM   #2
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I've never seen it defined and it's probably a moving target as people keep pushing the envelope. One way to look at it is from your own brewing experience/process. If you usually brew lower gravity beers and now want to brew something with a higher gravity and need to modify your system or process to do it it is a "big" beer from your perspective even if it is "only" a 1.066 IPA.

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Old 06-06-2007, 06:25 PM   #3
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not sure what the "rule" is, but i generally think that a big beer is anything over 1.060 OG

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Old 06-06-2007, 06:41 PM   #4
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That's interesting.

I always thought the "big-ness" of the beer came with the expected ABV. If the beer was going to be above 5.5 to 6% (higher than say, Bud heavy) than it was a big beer. Small beers would be less than 4.5 4.5-6.0 is sort of your standard craft beer. For example:

Sierra Nevada 5%
Boston Lager 4.9%

Although I agree that since beers can get up into the 20's, an IPA at 8% doesn't seem so big anymore.

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Old 06-06-2007, 08:58 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeathBrewer
not sure what the "rule" is, but i generally think that a big beer is anything over 1.060 OG
I used to think that Molson XXX was a 'big' beer at 7.1% (or so), but that was before I started homebrewing.

The IIPA that I did came in at right about 8.5% but it is very drinkable with no strong alcohol taste at all.

I think it really depends on the style. A super hopped-up IIPA for instance, would probably need to approach 10% abv or more before is stopped tasting like anything more than just a good IIPA.

I have a Raspberry Wheat that came out at 6% and it's just too much for that style. It leaves a bit of an alcohol taste in the back that I don't care for very much - live and learn and fix it the next time, right?
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Old 06-06-2007, 09:12 PM   #6
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a beer over 1.06 OG would be more than 6% ABV. 7% seems to be where it starts getting "big", in my interest. I pretty much drink nothing but big beers during the winter months. only reason i don't during summer is because i love hefes i've tried to make some big hefes, and it's difficult to make it work.

EDIT: Also, anything over 1.060 OG DEMANDS a blow-off tube IMO, so you could take that into consideration

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Old 06-07-2007, 05:48 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeathBrewer
a beer over 1.06 OG would be more than 6% ABV. 7% seems to be where it starts getting "big", in my interest. I pretty much drink nothing but big beers during the winter months. only reason i don't during summer is because i love hefes i've tried to make some big hefes, and it's difficult to make it work.

EDIT: Also, anything over 1.060 OG DEMANDS a blow-off tube IMO, so you could take that into consideration
Not necessarily...

Two that I have clearing now were both well over 1.060 (1.080 and 1.092) and neither one had any blowoff at all just a standard Ale Pail with a plain old fermentation lock. They were down to 1.018 and 1.020 (respectively) after 7 days.
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Old 06-07-2007, 08:10 AM   #8
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just kinda my rule. blow-offs go on > 1.060 and hefes. safeguard. most by "big" bears like to blow up

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Old 06-07-2007, 08:28 AM   #9
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My understanding is that the term originally referred to the runnings. A big beer used the mash water and perhaps the first runnings, the little beer used the second/third runnings. As a general rule, half your extract comes from the mash water- and it has less volume- so it's going to be your stronger, or "bigger" wort.

Then, whatever sugars are left are collected to make a "little" beer.


Nowadays, it's all about the SG, as far as the brewer is concerned. The drinker may say it has to do with the alcohol content, but that's only because he doesn't know any better. The ABV is sort of just a shorthand way of referring to the SG in that case.


Anyway, it's like people. What is a "big" person? What is a "little" person? It depends on your perspective... A big person in China can be sipping on a little barleywine, while a little Swede sips on a big hefeweizen. And if you compared the people and the beers side by side, you would realize that the term "big" and the term "little" is relative....

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Old 06-07-2007, 08:37 AM   #10
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Big beer:


small beer:

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