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Old 12-03-2012, 12:14 AM   #1
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Default Brewing high vs low alcohol content beers

My question is a simple one.

What are the major differences between brewing beers with HIGH alcohol content vs. beers with LOW? Is the difference in the ingredients, the ratios, the process, all of these, none of these...?

Is it as simple as adding more malt?

On a similar note, why is it that IPA's, which are mostly well known for their hoppiness, also have higher alcohol content...Do hops have anything to do with alcohol content???

Just some simple queries... Thanks, all

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Old 12-03-2012, 12:44 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sobalskyk View Post
My question is a simple one.

What are the major differences between brewing beers with HIGH alcohol content vs. beers with LOW? Is the difference in the ingredients, the ratios, the process, all of these, none of these...?

Is it as simple as adding more malt?

On a similar note, why is it that IPA's, which are mostly well known for their hoppiness, also have higher alcohol content...Do hops have anything to do with alcohol content???

Just some simple queries... Thanks, all
Higher alcohol content requires larger quantities of sugars/fermentables. Yes, it's essentially as simple as adding malt or any other form of sugar. It's advisable to not go more than 30% of your total grain bill in simple sugars, though, as this can lead to a cider-ish tasting beer. Simple sugars will ferment out 100% leaving no residual flavour. Malts can have a varying quantity of un/fermentable sugars, depending on temps they were mashed at ( less fermentable sugars at the higher end of the mash temp scale or, transversely, more fermentable sugars if mashed at the lower temp range). Unfermentable sugars leave behind a residual sweetness, body, flavour and help retain head on the beer.

IPAs generally have quite large hop additions and significant malt additions so there is a good balance between malty sweetness and hoppy bitterness. Fragrance and aroma are also imparted to the brew from hop additions towards the end of, or after, the boil.

IPAs were originally brewed/made to be shipped from Britain to India so, in order to stop them from going bad whilst on a ship for two to three months in allsorts of weather conditions a higher alcohol content, plus the anitbacterial properties of hops, was a crucial part of preserving the beer's integrity.

Hops aren't responsible for alcohol content, but necessary to balance the sweetness from your malts.

Yeast strains can also be a factor with higher alcohol beers as some strains can't function effectively in higher alcohol content environments.
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Old 12-03-2012, 12:45 AM   #3
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Hops have nothing to do with alcohol content. Although for a higher alcohol beer, more hops are usually needed to balance out the maltiness. Alcohol comes from the sugars extracted from the grain, so higher alcohol beers require more grain. Other things like yeast variety and mash temperature will also determine the final alcohol content.

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Old 12-03-2012, 12:46 AM   #4
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The increase in abv is related to the Level of gravity. As u increase the amount of fermentables (food for yeast, extracts or mashed malt ) u will increase the production of alcohol by the yeast.
The hops do not add to the abv. It's my understanding the hops had a preservative function for the long shipment to India and abroad. Also the higher alcohol content help w the long travel time as well.

Short answer. Adds more fermentables to increase abv. But beware if u just start adding them to a recipe u will mess with the balance of hops and malt so adjust accordingly.

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Old 12-03-2012, 12:50 AM   #5
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The short answer is that good beers are all about balance.

A higher amount of hopping requires more malt for balance- so that's why IPAs tend to be higher ABV. Conversely, a high ABV but lower hopped beer might have plenty of alcohol and malt flavor, but be too sweet or "hot" due to it being unbalanced.

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Old 12-03-2012, 12:54 AM   #6
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Great call Yooper. My first stout is like that due to me not having enough hops. My second brew was an iPa. Waiting to bottle it. It's going to need a long condition being at abt 8+ abv.

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Old 12-03-2012, 12:57 AM   #7
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Great call Yooper. My first stout is like that due to me not having enough hops. My second brew was an iPa. Waiting to bottle it. It's going to need a long condition being at abt 8+ abv.
Actually, even an 8+ ABV IPA should be ready soon. The hops flavor and aroma fades quickly, so IPAs are best drunk young for the most part. An aged IPA isn't really an IPA anymore.

I know I know! I said "Balance". But an IPA is all about the hops. A properly made IPA should be ready to drink in a few weeks at most. Even Pliney the Elder, probably the most famous DIPA, says on the label, "Don't age! Drink young!", etc.
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Old 12-03-2012, 12:58 AM   #8
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Somthing to consider is BU:GU ratio.If you keep the ratio right you are good.

The more you increase the gravity the more hops you need to balance it out.

Here is a good reference. to help.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/...WN2WEx2a0xpUkE

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Old 12-03-2012, 01:05 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Yooper

Actually, even an 8+ ABV IPA should be ready soon. The hops flavor and aroma fades quickly, so IPAs are best drunk young for the most part. An aged IPA isn't really an IPA anymore.

I know I know! I said "Balance". But an IPA is all about the hops. A properly made IPA should be ready to drink in a few weeks at most. Even Pliney the Elder, probably the most famous DIPA, says on the label, "Don't age! Drink young!", etc.
Thanks for the heads up. I'll will definite try it earlier than I was planning. The test I pulled last week was pretty good. Even my wife thought so. Now just need to get it carbed.

Now my whiskey stout that has been bottled for3+ weeks is still got some hotness fo sho
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Old 12-03-2012, 01:24 AM   #10
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It's advisable to not go more than 30% of your total grain bill in simple sugars, though, as this can lead to a cider-ish tasting beer.
I think poor brewing practices lead to cider tasting beer, not the amount of simple sugars. Yes, 30% is a lot, and I've never made a beer with more than that, but I've been close with a couple of Belgians. Have you any experience that a lot of simple sugars gives you a cidery beer. Just wondering if you have experience, or are perpetuating an old wives tale.

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Actually, even an 8+ ABV IPA should be ready soon. The hops flavor and aroma fades quickly, so IPAs are best drunk young for the most part. An aged IPA isn't really an IPA anymore.
Not sure I completely agree with you. IPAs, Indian Pale Ales, were supposedly highly hopped and high gravity to help them survive the months long journey from England to India. The original IPAs were made with long term storage in mind, and an aged IPA probably more represents the traditional style. But ..... current design of IPAs is to be highly hopped and drunk young. Maybe young IPAs (as wonderful as they are) should not be called an IPA.
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