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Low Enzymatic/Cold Mash/Low alcohol beer

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STMF

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For several reasons I have been interested in doing a non-alcoholic (or at least very low alcohol) beer.

Most of what I've read has been very secret or required very expensive equipment. I have not seen much written about it here so I figured I’d start a thread, share my experience and see if there is someone else out there that does the same or is interested in the topic.

I stumbled across a blog post on the Breiss website
http://blog.brewingwithbriess.com/cold-extraction-of-malt-components-and-their-use-in-brewing-applications/
where they talk about Low Enzymatic / Cold Mashing as a way to extract flavour without converting the starch to sugar. I also saw a video on YouTube where they tried it. I figured I’d give it a go and see what would be the result.

This is what I did for my first attempt.

Ingredients:
  • 5kg (11 lb) of a local maltster Pale Ale malt
  • 20 litres (5 Gallons) of cold water + 5 litres/1 gallon “sparge water”
  • 25g/1oz Mosaic
  • 25g/1oz Amarillo
  • English ale yeast
Steps:
  • I put the water in the keezer for a half a day or so in advance to cool it down. It was about 5C/40F when I took it out.
  • I put the grain and the water in my Grainfather and steeped it for 2 hours, while recirculating with the pump.
  • I rinsed the grain with about 5 litres/1 gallon of water and heated it up to a boil. I boiled it for 45 minutes.
  • Cooled it down to about 80C/175F and put in 25g/1oz of Amarillo of Mosaic each. Let them sit for about 20 min.
  • Pumped the hot wort to a keg, sealed it and let it No-Chill until the next day.
  • Poured the liquid into the fermenter and pitched the yeast, an English ale strain that I had on hand.
  • Fermented it at 18C/65F.
OG: 1.012
FG: 1.007
ABV: 0.66%

The fermentation was done in about 2 days and I let it sit for a couple of more days before transferring it to a keg and force carbonate.

The biggest issue I had was quite abit of scorching in the bottom of the Grainfather. Probably due to alot of proteins/starches that was in the wort.

I tasted it for the first time yesterday, after about 2 weeks in the keezer. It was quite good! It is a little grainy and could use a little more hop flavour. It is a bit thin, as would be expected but not so that it feels like flavoured water.

For the next time I will try:
  • Mashing in a separate vessel and see if I can transfer less of materials to the Grainfather before boiling. To lessen the scorching.
  • Try another English yeast strain that I know will give some more flavor
  • Use a base malt with more character. Probably Viking Red Active Malt or similar.
  • Use more hops in the hop stand.

All in all, I would call it somewhat of a success for a first time. It is very low alcohol and it's quite drinkable.
 
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McKnuckle

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I am also interested in low ABV beers, although I've been pursuing a much less dramatic approach so far, and working in the 3-4% ABV range.

This was a really interesting article! One question I have is; why - if the gelatinization point of barley starch is 58C/136F, did they feel the need to steep grains way down at refrigeration temps? Also, mashing above the alpha amylase range (170F) might also have some merit. Hot water extracts flavor and color more quickly and possibly more thoroughly than cold.

All in all, excellent food for thought here.
 
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STMF

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I am also interested in low ABV beers, although I've been pursuing a much less dramatic approach so far, and working in the 3-4% ABV range.

This was a really interesting article! One question I have is; why - if the gelatinization point of barley starch is 58C/136F, did they feel the need to steep grains way down at refrigeration temps? Also, mashing above the alpha amylase range (170F) might also have some merit. Hot water extracts flavor and color more quickly and possibly more thoroughly than cold.

All in all, excellent food for thought here.
In the article they talk about steeping for 24 hours or so. I think I read somewhere that to avoid the growing of unwanted organisms and spoiling the steeping should be done at refrigerating temperature.

The "Hot Mash" could be interesting but perhaps extracting tannings could be an issue? I will probably give it a try though. It a nice idea.
 

beersk

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This is interesting. Worrying about the mash souring would be the kicker. Doing a small batch might be in order. Maybe mash for a couple hours, while stirring periodically (I don't have mash recirculation abilities). I've been wanting to find ways to do low/no alcohol beers. This could be a potential for NEIPAs since he says it produces a fuller bodied beer.
 

RPh_Guy

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A hot mash will extract a lot of starch, which you probably don't want unless you want it tasting like liquid bread.
Cold is definitely the way to go. Cold should prevent microbial growth during the steeping.
 

ba-brewer

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1007 is not that low of a gravity, low carb level and warmer serving temp might give the sensation of more body.

What was you carbonation level and serving temp?
 

RPh_Guy

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I want to point out for anyone that bottles:

If the 5 point gravity drop is reproducible, it could go directly into bottles after mixing in some yeast.
 

BrewnWKopperKat

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non-enzymatic mashing

I thought I'd share links for what I have found (over the years). I've brewed this way a couple of times. No recipes worthy of sharing (yet, as I'll brew this way again as time permits).

Here's a PPT that's essentially the same as the HomeBrewCon 2016 presentation:

This might be the blog from one of the posters in one of the /r/homebrewing topics.

/r/homebrewing had a couple of long (for them anyway ;)) topics on it:
Couple of additional links at Briess's site:

Before /r/homebrewing, there were a couple of bloggers who posted results (apparently a year after attending HomeBrewCon 2016)
And a couple of additional links that may (or may not) be interesting:

If you have a BYO digital subscription: https://byo.com/article/brewing-table-beer/
 

ba-brewer

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A possible choice for yeast is wyeast 1450 Denny's favorite 50, from the description it sounds like it should help with perceived body. I have used it but to be honest I don't recall if it followed the propaganda or not.

STRAIN:
1450


Denny's Favorite 50 Ale

Species: Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Profile: This terrific all-round yeast can be used for almost any beer style, and is a mainstay of one of our local homebrewers, Mr. Denny Conn. It is unique in that it produces a big mouthfeel and accentuates the malt, caramel, or fruit character of a beer without being sweet or under-attenuated.
 

McKnuckle

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@BrewnWKopperKat thanks for putting together those links!

Of the bloggers, Tim Vandergrift actually tried this and put up a video. Unfortunately he used NEIPA as an example, so it is cloudy and brownish - not indicative perhaps of what is possible. He seemed positive on the results, but there is no subsequent material available.

Hornbrewing.com has a couple of nice posts with pics on his site. Possibly the most helpful of these references.

The last blogger, "jonscrazybrews," posts about doing it, but then drops off the face of the Earth without a follow-up, in spite of a couple of questions on his page. Argh.

What they're doing is roughly this:

1) Mill grains and mash cold, overnight, 10-12 hours
2) Transfer wort to mash tun (sediment may be heavy, so rack or filter carefully)
Wort aroma is noted as being more vegetal without caramel overtones
Gravity is observed as being < 50% of normal
3) Raise temp of the wort to alpha/beta amylase range(s) as desired
4) Lauter and boil, adding minimal bittering hops to avoid imbalance

This is worth a shot methinks.
 
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BrewnWKopperKat

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This is worth a shot methinks.
The outline looks like a good starting point.

A couple of notes from my experiences.
  • For estimating OG, I generally get around 25% efficiency with a single crush, around 40% with a double crush (vs a typical 75% to 80%).
  • In step 3 (above), I typically hold the wort at around 150* for 60 minutes and end up a beer in the 3-4% (estimated) range. In the reddit links, they typically didn't do the "rest" step - and got a lower ABV beer.
 

shoreman

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I’m about to dig into cold extraction but also small grain bills like Nanny State, will update my progress.

Subing to this thread too
 
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STMF

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It's been a few weeks and it is just getting better. The "grainy" taste is much lower and it is quite nice.

I had one failed attempt a few weeks ago, the wort burned hard in the GF and I dumped the whole thing.

Im doing another try tomorrow with Viking Red Active Malt and cold mashing outside the GF to hopefully not get as much gunk. Also adding a bit more hops, both for bittering and taste.



https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/g...V4cf74p2vVc_YA_2m5g1kaB4jmCfeOA=w815-h1086-no
 
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Tom R

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I made a 5 gal batch of this cold mash "beer", added a bit of chocolate 350 for some color, and used WY1272 because I had it on hand. OG was 1.012, FG was 1.008. ABV was .5%

It's growing on me. I'm making another 5 gals as my next batch, but using WY 1450 as mentioned above for more body.
 
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STMF

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I made a 5 gal batch of this cold mash "beer", added a bit of chocolate 350 for some color, and used WY1272 because I had it on hand. OG was 1.012, FG was 1.008. ABV was .5%

It's growing on me. I'm making another 5 gals as my next batch, but using WY 1450 as mentioned above for more body.
Nice, thanks for sharing. Seems we got about the same numbers.

How much and what hops did you use?

Good luck with the next one!
 

schmurf

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I like the idea of cold mashing for a couple of reasons, mostly because I feel it makes my brew day easier and I like to make low ABV beer. One thing I definitely suggest is to do the cold steeping/mashing in a separat vessel to avoid transfer as much of the sediment as possible to the kettle.
 

shoreman

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What do you think the shelf life on the .5% abv beers are? Also, are you kegging or bottle conditioning? I would think the bottle conditioning could be cellared longer but adds about .5%ABV. I just finished brewing a nanny state clone but just used a low amount of grains. I'll be getting into some cold mashing soon.
 

Tom R

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Nice, thanks for sharing. Seems we got about the same numbers.

How much and what hops did you use?QUOTE]

I used 28g mosaic and 39g Amarillo. I meant to steep them at 170F per the recipe, but added them at flameout by mistake. Turned out fine, nice balance. I added 2 oz. of choc 350 to the mash.

My LHBS didn't have WY1450 on hand, but they're ordering it for me, so I can brew this again soon.
 

Tom R

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Nice, thanks for sharing. Seems we got about the same numbers.

How much and what hops did you use?

Good luck with the next one!
I used 28g mosaic and 39g Amarillo. I meant to steep them at 170F per the recipe, but added them at flameout by mistake. Turned out fine, nice balance. I added 2 oz. of choc 350 to the mash.

My LHBS didn't have WY1450 on hand, but they're ordering it for me, so I can brew this again soon.

(sorry about the double post!)
 

Tom R

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What do you think the shelf life on the .5% abv beers are? Also, are you kegging or bottle conditioning? I would think the bottle conditioning could be cellared longer but adds about .5%ABV. I just finished brewing a nanny state clone but just used a low amount of grains. I'll be getting into some cold mashing soon.
I really don't know about the shelf life, I give a bunch of it to a friend who can no longer drink alcohol. Between the two of us it is gone pretty fast. I kegged it all, and then filled bottles from the keg.

FWIW, I made a Nanny State clone a while back. My friend liked it more than I did. I found it pretty harsh with all those hops (and I like hoppy beer), and overly grainy.

I like the taste of the low-temp mash better, and I'm hoping the WY1450 will take it up another notch.
 

beersk

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I plan to do a 3.5 gallon full volume mash low abv beer overnight tonight IF the package I'm expecting from Farmhouse shows up today. It was supposed to be delivered Monday and has since not shown up. I'm starting to get worried.

But...

I'm planning for:

2.5lbs Munich
2lbs Vienna
2lbs Barke Pilsner
4oz C40
4oz C80
.5oz Carafa III
.5oz Mt. Hood 30 min FWH
.5oz Mt. Hood 5 min
Global L13 yeast

I'm excited to see how it turns out. Planning to mash at 40F overnight in my fermentation fridge, then vorlauf into my kettle to keep the sediment down.
 

kmarkstevens

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So, not sure if it was a good idea to try a two variable experiment at first, but what they hell. Grain bill was 2# maris otter, 1# wheat, .25# melanoidum and enough water for ~2.5 gallon total.

Steeped the "cold" wort in the fridge for about 36 hours only because I didn't get around to it earlier. It was vaguely sweet, grainy, vegetal. Definitely on the watery side. Then mashed the wort at 158F for an hour to end with OG 1010. Pitched with the very low attenuating Fullers yeast (WLP002)

The second half of the experiment was to do a mash hop instead of a boil. According to Brad Smith, at 158 °F (70 °C) you will only get about 10% the utilization you get from boiling. I mashed at 158 for an hour with an ounce of EKG (6.1% alpha) and targeted a BU:GU ratio of .8. Not sure what I ended up with in terms of IBU. I haven't done a mash hop only before, so that might not have been the best idea. Also, it was 2 gallons and used a sous vide gadget for temperature control. Unclear if the hop pellets hitting the sous vide heater created any off flavors or not. The wort taste was not great when I pitched the yeast, but will see how it ferments and ages.

I'm steeping a second test batch right now. Upped the grain bill to 3# maris, 1# wheat, 1# dark munich, 1/4# melanoidum and water to make up 2.5 gallons.
1. will mash at 158
2. do a regular hop boil (probably just 30 minute bittering with tettnang)
3. 2nd running - remash the grains while adding 1 pound of 6-row (for the enzymes and grainy "bite") and maybe 1/2# invert or honey depending on the gravity.

definitely a work in progress
 

beersk

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I just started steeping a small test batch in my fridge. Will mash and pitch it tomorrow. Will report back.

@beersk How did you batch come out?

Not sure if folks are aware, but there is a really good thread on brewing sub 1030 beers here: https://www.homebrewtalk.com/forum/threads/sub-1-030-beers.378450/
Brewing it was good. Mashed in with 40F water and mashed for 13 hours in my fermentation fridge set to 38F. Checking the temp after mashing in and the next morning, it pretty much stayed right at about 45F. I didn't seem to get as much liquid out of the mash as normal and the resulting wort was super turbid. I held it at 150-155F for 30 minutes then brought up to a boil. The wort was really nice and clear at that point. I had to make sure to stir the bottom of the kettle as it was heating up as there seemed to be stuff wanting to stick to the bottom and would burn if I didn't make sure to keep it stirred. There was a lot of crazy protein in the boil that looked egg drop soupy. I've that before with low o2 brewing, this was similar, but the color of it was darker. I got about 25% efficiency over all and the wort tasted and smelled like normal with 1.020 OG. We'll see how it comes out in 2 or 3 weeks.

A lot of people will say this is a waste of grain, but I'd argue that it's really not. You're still getting out of the grain what you want, which is flavor, color, body and most important of all, beer. Alcohol doesn't have to be the end all be all of it. It's not a waste to me if I'm getting an enjoyable beer that is very low in alcohol.
 

mwill07

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Brewing it was good. Mashed in with 40F water and mashed for 13 hours in my fermentation fridge set to 38F. Checking the temp after mashing in and the next morning, it pretty much stayed right at about 45F. I didn't seem to get as much liquid out of the mash as normal and the resulting wort was super turbid. I held it at 150-155F for 30 minutes then brought up to a boil. The wort was really nice and clear at that point. I had to make sure to stir the bottom of the kettle as it was heating up as there seemed to be stuff wanting to stick to the bottom and would burn if I didn't make sure to keep it stirred. There was a lot of crazy protein in the boil that looked egg drop soupy. I've that before with low o2 brewing, this was similar, but the color of it was darker. I got about 25% efficiency over all and the wort tasted and smelled like normal with 1.020 OG. We'll see how it comes out in 2 or 3 weeks.

A lot of people will say this is a waste of grain, but I'd argue that it's really not. You're still getting out of the grain what you want, which is flavor, color, body and most important of all, beer. Alcohol doesn't have to be the end all be all of it. It's not a waste to me if I'm getting an enjoyable beer that is very low in alcohol.
Looking forward to an update!
 

kmarkstevens

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Grain is cheap and time is precious! Plus as any serious homebrewer knows, you need backyard chickens to eat the spent grains, turn it into fertilizer that is primo for the hops you grow for the beer you brew...it's the brewing cycle of life.

@beersk You ain't kidding about the egg drop soup. V1 yesterday I simply poured in all the cold steep water for ~4# grain. V2 today I cold steeped 5# grain, but tossed out the last 1-2 quarts of super trub. The trub truly looked like egg drop soup. v1 OG = 1010 (4# grain and 2.5 gallons total volume), v2 OG = 1020 (5# grain and 2.5 gallons total volume). Not sure why the OG is so different but certainly an extra pound of grain and corresponding smaller volume of water added up to such a big difference? Guessing that this is going to take a dozen tries to triangle in on a keeper method.

On top of that: You can do a 2nd running if you want and toss in 20% 6-row to make up for the lost enzymes. At least, that's my theory. Just did 3.5 gallon mash on the 5# of cold steeped grains today with 1# of 6-row, and the iodine test says it converted. Bringing to a boil right now and will toss in 2 ounces of tettnang for a 20 minute boil and targeting around BU/GU = .9. I'm sure will have to play with the second running and flaked whatever or additional crystal or some honey to make it worth while.
 

jtrux

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To get a low ABV beer, what about brewing like normal, once fermentation is over cold crash then transfer clear wort back to kettle and boil the alcohol out of it. Once cooled, add back a small amount of leftover yeast from fermenter and priming sugar. Never done this, just thinking out loud
 

shoreman

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To get a low ABV beer, what about brewing like normal, once fermentation is over cold crash then transfer clear wort back to kettle and boil the alcohol out of it. Once cooled, add back a small amount of leftover yeast from fermenter and priming sugar. Never done this, just thinking out loud
That's a possibility, but boiling a liquid with yeast and hops post-fermentation is going to result in some pretty terrible beer. That was how alot of the traditional NA beers were created, but there's now other more flavorful ways to get to the end result.
 

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kmarkstevens

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My samples tonight were not good. The v1 sample, did a mash hop on this one, was nasty. A weird burnt hop flavor (used EKG), burnt grass flavor. Ugh

Worse still, the v2 sample, which I did the full mash and then a proper boil with tettnang hops, also had the burnt grass flavor although not as strong as v1. The aroma was more than off putting.

Both were in the same bathroom that was ~69F during the day, and dropped at night along with the ambient temp.

Any trouble shooting thoughts? I dumped v1, and highly doubt v2 will age into something tolerable.
 

BrewnWKopperKat

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Any trouble shooting thoughts?
Burnt grass flavors would suggest you burnt something.

Both were in the same bathroom
:eek:

If you provide a complete recipe and process for each batch (two separate posts please), I may have time to take a look. If you are doing cold extraction (briess) please try to use their terminology.
 
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