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Old 08-13-2013, 10:40 PM   #1
Weezy
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I, like many peeps, have a favorite watering hole. Actually, I, like many HBT peeps, have several favorite watering holes. On this evening, I'm enjoying a few choice craft brews; the exact brand(s) and model(s) being none the matter. In a fit of inebriety after my third 7%+ concoction, I ask the barkeep if anyone comes in and asks for a session or low alcohol brew. After a brief chuckle, he unwaveringly states that he is only ever asked what is the highest alcohol brew available.

I'm a big fan of low grav beers. They take a bit of extra effort to get right; to get enough richness and mouthfeel to offset the lack of grain bill. I also do a lot of tinkering in the garage with many projects, and appreciate being able to drink a few without the metal lathe kicking me. BUT there are so few out there! Anyone else in the same boat? What's the atmosphere like at your pub? What are your local craft breweries putting out?
Full Pint brewery is close to me and they have a LG IPA which is nice to have, but there is nothing on tap at local bars.

 
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Old 08-13-2013, 10:50 PM   #2
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My favorite bar (not exactly local, but I don't go out drinking often) almost always has Anchor Small Beer, which is a great 3rd or 4th beer, and one or two of their other moderate gravity lagers. I'm sure high ABV kegs turn over faster, but there is usually a pretty decent range, but any bar that deals in craft beer is going to be ABV and IBU heavy for the most part. I would kill to get a nice Ordinary Bitter on tap somewhere local, but so far the only one is the one I brew. Even something easy to get, like Adnams Bitter would be great.

Anyway, this sounds like it should be in "drunken ramblings" but you're like me in that it seems like you make a great effort to be readable when posting druck.
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Old 08-13-2013, 11:00 PM   #3
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What is full pints lg IPA? I know they used to do the hobnobber pale ale, with rotating hops, but last time I was at the brewery they said they were gonna stop producing it?

I think the best low gravity beers are most British beers, they really push the limit of taste and low gravity.

 
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Old 08-13-2013, 11:13 PM   #4
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A couple of friends and I were talking about basically this a few weeks back. Local breweries do a great job at the 6-8% beers but we do not always want something that big, sometimes we are looking for something small and we can have a couple without being over the legal limit to drive. I have been toying with session beers and have made it my personal challenge to brew a beer that is good and under 4.5%. Session saison deffintly got close, with a different ferm temp and water chemistry adjustment I think it would be there.

The latest Chop and Brew also gave a couple of hints as to the challenge of session beers. Dawsons comment was to use the highest quality ingredients you can, make sure your water chem is right and well you have to be on nose with everything making sure it is right. There is little room for mistakes in session beers. Unlike bigger beers.
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Old 08-14-2013, 03:46 AM   #5
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That pub owner needs to learn the financial rewards of session craft beers! People will drink more session beers thus increase his profits. Just think of how many 4% beers you can drink and still SAFELY drive home.
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Old 08-14-2013, 01:02 PM   #6
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Most English styles shouldn't go above about 5.5% on draft/cask, including IPA and porters (some go higher in the bottles - Adnams Broadside being a good example - 5.8% on cask/6.8% in bottles). A good best bitter should be in the 3.5-4.2% range, with milds from about 2.8-3.5%. It's fairly rare for an English pub to have beer above 6% on tap, and IME it usually only happens for winter beers.

That said, the John Harvard chain brew pub in Cambridge here has a couple of 3.8% beers - a saison and an amber last time I was in there for a work lunch. Neither was bad at all, but both could be much much better (being served in a pitcher probably didn't help).

Getting a good, balanced beer at around 4% is a challenge. English style brews get a bit of help with the taste and mouthfeel from being cask served at about 55F and less carbed than most US craft brews, particularly southern UK beers with little head (keeps the hop aromas and bitterness in the beer, not the foam). And from being full 20oz pints, not 16oz ones

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Old 08-14-2013, 01:23 PM   #7
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Daksin,
You got me drooling over the terms "Anchor Small Beer" (which I didn't know existing but must try to find now) and "Ordinary Bitters." I never see much like that around here.

Dirty25,
Hobnobber, yes! It's a regular now and they do seem to rotate at least some of the hops with each batch. This one is using Palisade hops, which is on the resiny side but a good drinker. I think the brewers got used to being able to have a sip, here and there, over the course of the work day without being impaired. It's the only thing I really see them drink.

I've been brewing pretty much exclusively small beers this year. 3.8%-4% is quite doable, imho. I have a French table biere that I've worked out, and an ordinary bitter that's getting there. And a porter which is pretty decent. I want to work on a small American brown too. 3% is tougher. You can get good flavor but it's so thin.

The way I started was to just take a favorite recipe and lower the base grain amount while maintaining the specialty grain amounts, brew it and adjust to taste from there.

I'll have to check out that Chop and Brew, thanks.

There are practically zero English style beers (on tap). All I might see is the odd porter, ESB, or old ale, and none are ever low grav. The only sessions I see are low grav IPAs. I've had 21A's Bitter American, Green Flash's session IPA (forget the name), and the Hobnobber recently. All American hop beers. Something malty or estery/Belgian would be nice once in a while.

 
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Old 08-14-2013, 04:31 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Weezy View Post
Daksin,
You got me drooling over the terms "Anchor Small Beer" (which I didn't know existing but must try to find now) and "Ordinary Bitters." I never see much like that around here.
I've only ever seen ASB on draft at Small Bar in San Diego, and a few places in San Francisco where the brewery is located. It's actually made from the second runnings of their Barleywine, Old Foghorn, so it's very traditional in that sense. Apparently they bottle it, but I've never seen it.

Re: Ordinary bitters, it's a style that almost never gets bottled. The only one I can think of is Adnams Bitter, which isn't that hard to find in big stores like BevMo or Total Wine.
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Old 08-15-2013, 12:57 AM   #9
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Stone Levitation ale at 4.4% isn't too bad. Just had a Citra session ale (4.5) from Green flash that I thought would be great but just too bitter for me.
A nice bitter on cask at about 3.5% is about the range I would like to see more of.

 
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Old 08-15-2013, 01:13 AM   #10
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Im totally down with the session ales. All my watering holes have great beer but in the last few months they are all carrying very high alcohol brews in all styles. Im over that fad. Im high abv'd out! Lately I have been walking in and looking for the sessions!
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