How to brew BMC

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A beer for the missus

Millions of people like to drink Bud/Miller/Coors (BMC) style beers. These beers are often referred to as Pilsners by their manufacturers, but are generally considered to be their own separate category of Pale Lager. They are light in colour and body and lightly hopped.

So how is it made?

Well Beer is made from Water, Malt, Hops and Yeast. The main addition to this is the use of corn or rice because it is cheap, adds very little body, colour or flavour to the beer, which is what gives it its properties. The corn and rice is unmalted so relies on the enzymes from the malted barley to convert the starch from the rice/corn to fermentable sugars. Because of this 6 row barley is used because of its higher diastic properties. To help beer production take less space instead of brewing lots of weak beer some of the breweries brew a stronger beer and then water it down at production.

If you are going to try this then you should be aware that because there are no heavy or strong flavours and off flavours caused by method or ingredients will show through and not be masked so fresh ingredients should be used. Malt:
UK 2 row pale malts are generally to dark for pilsners and don’t have enough diastic power, so a US 2 *row or German Pilsner 2 row can be used. 6 row has a grainier profile than 2 row hence the reason for using some 2 row. Adjuncts:
To get Corn into the mash then you can use; Flaked maize which is pre-gelatinised and add it to your mash. Corn syrup can be added late to the kettle. You can also use corn grits but they need a separate mash. The same goes for flaked maize, rice syrup and rice grits.

Obviously a lot off American hops are used although some foreign styles of hops are grown domestically as well as some imports are used. Importantly the bitterness is low at around 10-14 IBU.

Obviously a lager yeast is the best bet. It’s difficult to tell what the big boys use bit an American Lager yeast is a good choice, like Wyeast 2035 os similar.

So far we have an outline of the beer.

  • OG 1040 - 1045
  • FG 1005 – 1007
  • SRM - ~ 2-4
  • IBU 10-14
  • ABV 4-5%

So from the info above we can put a list together.

2 row pale or pilsner malt
6 row pale palt
Rice or Corn adjunct
Hops from the list of: Noble, Cascade, Willamette, Spalt, Newport, Sterling and a few others.
Yeast. Lager, American, Wyeast 2035.

A good clean tasting water is a must especially if you plan to brew strong and water it down. Sterilised water can help with this but you’ll need to add brewing salts to it. You can also use Camden tablets to take out chloramines and boil to remove chlorine.

Now that info above is well is enough to get you well in the way to understanding how to brew a BMC style beer.

Now this. I’d say it’s all toooo much effort and it’s much easier toy just go buy a case for $20 dollars or what ever it costs and use your brew time to brew a Real Ale worth the effort. But because I’m in a good mood here’s a little more info.

You need to mash for highly fermentable wort, which means at the lower end of the mashing scale maybe 150-152 or if you have the inclination ability to step mash then do some lower temp steps with a rest at 140 really helping to get a dry beer. I’m no expert on step mashes so can’t really help more than that.

With sparging clarity is important so fly sparging can help or at least returning plenty of the first mash back to the mash when batch sparging. You need to be careful not to sparge bellow around 1010.

A good boil is required to make sure you boil off any DMS and allow a good hot break.

Also note that due to poor handling and clear bottles that these beers quite often get skunked and the beer swilling masses have got used to it and see it as a positive flavour in these beers. So short of finding a passing skunk...I suggest looking after a few bottles and also letting a few bottles skunk in daylight. Taste two side by side warm then taste two side by side chilled to see what you think.

That’s enough for now.
I’m off for a Real Beer.


BeerSmith Recipe Printout -
Recipe: HopHed FPW
Brewer: HopHed Brewhaus (ohiobrewtus)
Style: American Light/Standard/Premium Lager
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: (41.0)
Recipe Specifications

Batch Size: 5.50 gal
Boil Size: 7.39 gal
Estimated OG: 1.043 SG
Estimated Color: 2.5 SRM
Estimated IBU: 11.0 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Amount Item Type % or IBU
4.00 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 50.00 %
2.00 lb Corn, Flaked (1.3 SRM) Grain 25.00 %
1.00 lb Rice, Flaked (1.0 SRM) Grain 12.50 %
0.50 oz Hallertauer [6.00 %] (60 min) Hops 10.5 IBU
0.25 oz Hallertauer [6.00 %] (2 min) Hops 0.4 IBU
1.00 tsp Irish Moss (Boil 10.0 min) Misc
1.00 lb Corn Sugar (Dextrose) (0.0 SRM) Sugar 12.50 %
1 Pkgs American Lager (White Labs #WLP840) Yeast-Lager

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 7.00 lb

Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge
Step Time Name Description Step Temp
60 min Mash In Add 8.75 qt of water at 170.1 F 148.0 F

I hit my target gravity dead on at 1.043, but Saflager has yet to kick in. It's been 48 hours and it's my first lager so I'm not overly concerned yet, but I certainly expected to see some activity by now.


A light history lesson

Let us examine the sorry history of this melancholy beer type. There are two reasons why it came into existence: first, the reduction of calories so one does not gain weight from drinking it, although few drinkers drink it for that reason today. And, second: This beer type, and others of its ilk (dry beer, red beer, ice beer, light dry beer, light red beer, light ice beer, dry ice beer, etc.), were promoted, invented, or adopted by the US megabrewers to take up valuable shelf space in order to keep the new microbrews (those new, tasteful, beers you apparently disdain) out of the market place.

The above-listed beer types have little or no taste to them. They are fakes, designed to delude beer lovers into believing that they have substance and are worth buying. I cannot deny, however, that light beer is very popular with mainline beer drinkers. Sad.

Those trendy beers, and light beer in particular, are really malt liquors. Malt liquor is not a normal beer style. Malt liquor is a beer type Germans would shun as ersatz. That word describes the beer style beautifully. "Ersatz" is German for "poor substitute."

Malt liquor is a poor substitute for beer because it is engineered to be stronger than normal. True strong beer is brewed by adding more fermentable goods to the mix, creating more color, taste, and alcohol content. Malt liquor is strong because it uses enzymes to "force ferment" (engineer) the beer, reducing the color and taste but enhancing the alcohol content. The result is tasteless strong beer.

Clement Prechtl, a brewing scientist associated with the Wallerstein Laboratories, let the cat out of the bag in a 1972 technical paper presented to an MBAA brewers Convention in Winnipeg. In his paper, he described the process used to brew malt liquor and light beer. I've taken the liberty of adding to and explaining his technical dissertation.

I quote: "The second and the preferred way [to brew] is to prepare a special brew of about 50 to 60 percent malt [which is 60 percent fermentable], 30 to 40 percent corn grits [about 75 percent fermentable], and 10 to 20 percent dextrose [corn sugar about 86 percent fermentable] to an original gravity (OG) of 12.5 to 14.5 degrees Plato [percent of fermentable sugars in the beginning beer wort] (after which is added) a fungal alpha amylase [an enzyme that changes unfermentable sugar-starches called dextrins into fermentable sugar. These unfermentable dextrins are what give beer its wonderful flavor]. ·Fermentation is carried out at (the high) temperatures (usually) associated with ale fermentation." [The result is a beer with minimal body, or taste, and increased alcohol content].

Mr. Stanton, honest, I'm not making this up.

Prechtl goes on, at great length, to describe US "low calorie" beers (which were invented by the Europeans) as table beer and diet beers (for diabetics; later reinvented by the Japanese as dry beer). Low calorie beer, it turns out, is weak malt liquor, with an original gravity of 8 or 9 Plato (instead of 12 or 14 above). The result has even less taste than malt liquor, but the only real difference is in alcohol content and body.

The first light beer (Gablinger's Diet Beer) was produced by New York's Rheingold Brewery in 1967. It didn't sell. Gablinger's had 107 calories per 12-ounce bottle, almost all of them (93) from alcohol. Budweiser (itself not particularly taste enhanced) is a normal beer (about 150 calories) with that same alcohol content but with more dextrins. It is much more flavorful and satisfying. The first successful light beer (in 1972) was an offshoot of Meister Brau Lite of Chicago, which also was unsuccessful in 1967. It was bought by Miller, somewhat reformulated, and introduced as Miller Lite. The rest, as they say, is history.

Mr. Stanton, the problem I have with light beer, and the reason I hate to write about it, is that it is poor beer with almost no flavor, too much alcohol, and no body at all. These beers would all benefit from substituting taste and body (dextrins) at 4 calories per gram for alcohol at 7 calories per gram.

Look at Miller Light: 4.2 percent abv, 96 calories, but only 1.1 percent dextrins. Bud Light has 3.3 percent abv, 108 calories, and 2.9 percent dextrins. That's better, but not enough to give it even the limited flavor we expect from regular Bud. Forget Coors Light with 100 calories, 4.4 percent abv, 2.3 percent dextrins, and nearly as pale as water at 1.9 srm. Don't tell anyone I said so, but if you must drink this swill, go for the Bud Light -- more flavor, decent balance, and more color at 3 srm.

Henry Ortlieb of Philadelphia's now defunct Ortlieb Brewing Co., said it all when he produced a TV commercial in the mid-1970s that told viewers: "You want light beer? Just add ice cubes to my beer, it's cheaper." This was written for the January 1998 edition of All About Beer Magazine.