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yard_bird

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Hi all,
I mostly brew darker beer styles because these are styles I tend to enjoy more. I have experience brewing lighter styles (saison/single/triple) but they never really are paler than a burnt orange.

Now that I’ve got a few batches under my belt, I’d like to take a couple cracks at whipping up some paler beers (kolsch/blond/New Glarus Spotted Cow) and want to nail color since that’s my current personal challenge. What tricks in the process ensure a paler color?

Truth be told I am a bottle conditioner and don’t have the equip to keg (maybe one day). I siphon my beer as gently as possible and use a bottle wand.

Recipe formulation, mash, boil, chiller, fermentation tricks?

Much appreciated.
 

AlexKay

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Pale beers have simple grists in comparison to darker beers. A Bo Pils or a Helles might be 100% Pilsner malt, for example, or a Cream Ale might be 6-row and flaked corn.

Keep your recipes simple, and heavy on either lightly kilned malt or adjuncts. Most crystal malt adds color, except Carapils, which is useless anyway. If you were looking for an excuse not to use crystal, here it is.

I like to use white wheat, which has a ton of diastatic power, helps head retention, tastes good, and is very lightly colored. My Kolsch is Pilsner, Vienna, and white wheat.

If you want something really pale you can try to shorten the boil time. This can be tricky, as lightly kilned malts have more DMS precursor, which you're counting on the boil to convert and drive off. I've gone as short as 15 minutes for a Beliner Weisse with good results, though.
 

hottpeper13

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My kolsch is close ,I use a touch of Munich. You might want to mitigate as much O2 on the hot side as possible,like you're doing on the cold side. White wheat is your friend,and I've been using 1/4 tps of Brewtan-B in the mash. If still using extracts go with 100% DME as the LME can be darker.
 

Steveruch

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My kolsch is close ,I use a touch of Munich. You might want to mitigate as much O2 on the hot side as possible,like you're doing on the cold side. White wheat is your friend,and I've been using 1/4 tps of Brewtan-B in the mash. If still using extracts go with 100% DME as the LME can be darker.
Pilsner dme from briess makes a pale beer.
 

CascadesBrewer

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I mostly brew darker beer styles because these are styles I tend to enjoy more. I have experience brewing lighter styles (saison/single/triple) but they never really are paler than a burnt orange.

Are you brewing with extract? There are some good threads talking about strategies for brewing with extract. I am a big fan of DME over LME. Liquid extract tends to darken significantly as it ages in the can, where DME is more stable.
 
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yard_bird

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Are you brewing with extract? There are some good threads talking about strategies for brewing with extract. I am a big fan of DME over LME. Liquid extract tends to darken significantly as it ages in the can, where DME is more stable.
Thanks Cascades. I brew all grain. I agree with your DME>LME analysis.
 
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yard_bird

yard_bird

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My kolsch is close ,I use a touch of Munich. You might want to mitigate as much O2 on the hot side as possible,like you're doing on the cold side. White wheat is your friend,and I've been using 1/4 tps of Brewtan-B in the mash. If still using extracts go with 100% DME as the LME can be darker.
Thanks hottpeper, how do you minimize hot side O2? Softer boil?
 

CascadesBrewer

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Thanks Cascades. I brew all grain. I agree with your DME>LME analysis.

Hmmm...then I am not sure about the source of your "paler than a burnt orange" issue. I would start with your grain bill. I recently kegged a beer with 100% Pilsner Malt (Avangard) and it is a very nice pale yellow color. I do take steps to avoid cold side oxidation, but doing take extra steps to avoid hot side oxidation. I would pay attention to your wort/beer along the process. Is there a spot along the process that you are picking up color? During the boil? After bottling?
 

VikeMan

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A thing that hasn't been mentioned yet is mash pH. A low-ish mash pH will help keep the beer color lighter, compare to a high mash pH.
 
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yard_bird

yard_bird

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Hmmm...then I am not sure about the source of your "paler than a burnt orange" issue. I would start with your grain bill. I recently kegged a beer with 100% Pilsner Malt (Avangard) and it is a very nice pale yellow color. I do take steps to avoid cold side oxidation, but doing take extra steps to avoid hot side oxidation. I would pay attention to your wort/beer along the process. Is there a spot along the process that you are picking up color? During the boil? After bottling?
Thanks, could you clarify hot-side oxidation? Is this O2 introduced pre-pitching?

I think I pick up color mostly during the boil. I typically do 4 gallons boiled down to ~3. I'm wondering if I ramp up temp (instead of starting the full blast) I can limit maillard reactions.
 
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yard_bird

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A thing that hasn't been mentioned yet is mash pH. A low-ish mash pH will help keep the beer color lighter, compare to a high mash pH.
Gotcha, thanks. I recently checked my water and my pH is ~8-8.5, way too high.
 

VikeMan

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Gotcha, thanks. I recently checked my water and my pH is ~8-8.5, way too high.

A tap/well water pH of 8 (or 8.5) isn't unusual.

What really matters is mash pH, not the water's pH. Two different waters that both measure, say, pH 8.0, could be mashed with identical grain bills, and result in two very different mash pHs. The reason is that the two water sources could have different alkalinities (buffering capacicities), even though they have the same pH.
 

CascadesBrewer

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Thanks, could you clarify hot-side oxidation? Is this O2 introduced pre-pitching?

I think I pick up color mostly during the boil. I typically do 4 gallons boiled down to ~3. I'm wondering if I ramp up temp (instead of starting the full blast) I can limit maillard reactions.
There is a group of brewers (and a forum here) that focus on limiting oxygen exposure throughout the brewing process (LoDO Brewing...Low Dissolved Oxygen). It is not something I practice or have experience with. My impression is that it will have more impact on subtle grain characters and maybe a slight impact on color...but not from straw to burnt orange.

I have definitely witnessed darkening of beer from cold side oxidation (oxidation after fermentation). This seems to have more impact on hoppy beers than more standard beers.

Maybe you will get some darkening with long and hard boils. I am not sure I have noticed much even with my propane burner, which puts out quite a bit of heat. Some will argue that Maillard reactions cannot occur with boiling a liquid, though I think minor darkening can occur. Again, not enough to move a pale colored beer into the golden range.

In any case, boiling from 4 gallons down to 3 gallons in an hour is probably a sign that you could lower your boil vigor...but it does not sound too crazy. I tend to boil off 1 to 1.25 gals in an hour with my full size batches on my propane burner and 0.7 gal per hour on small batches on my stove.
 
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yard_bird

yard_bird

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A tap/well water pH of 8 (or 8.5) isn't unusual.

What really matters is mash pH, not the water's pH. Two different waters that both measure, say, pH 8.0, could be mashed with identical grain bills, and result in two very different mash pHs. The reason is that the two water sources could have different alkalinities (buffering capacicities), even though they have the same pH.
Thanks, I didn’t realize that. I was planning on adding about 3% acidulated to help bring it down and maybe cut with some DI water since my general hardness is ~160ppm.
 

AlexKay

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There is a group of brewers (and a forum here) that focus on limiting oxygen exposure throughout the brewing process (LoDO Brewing...Low Dissolved Oxygen). It is not something I practice or have experience with. My impression is that it will have more impact on subtle grain characters and maybe a slight impact on color...but not from straw to burnt orange.
I'm not a believer. My understanding, though, is that higher oxygen in the mash will absolutely darken beer -- while LoDo's effect on flavor may be controversial, the effect on color is well established. (No, I don't have an academic reference on hand.)
 

Bassman2003

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Glad you are asking questions since you are rather new to the hobby. Keep asking and keep learning. Pale beers are best treated gently. Meaning lowering your boil intensity a lot will help them keep their true flavor, not induced flavor. Just over a simmer is all you need for a boil and 60 minutes is plenty. There is always a next level and if you want really pale beer, removing the oxygen out of your hot and cold side will be your best approach. I am not going to go into it but if you want to learn the way the Germans and Belgian's brew, do yourself a favor and pick up these techniques from the beginning. Unlearning is often more difficult.

Removing O2 from the strike water, avoiding O2 exposure through the process, fermenter gas purging kegs, spunding and natural carbonation all keep the beer the lightest it can be.
 

Kickass

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Getting a pale beer with all grain should be pretty attainable. I’m wondering if maybe you’re using grain that’s darker than you realize.

Do you mind sharing your grain bill for the beers that have turned out “burnt orange”?
 

CascadesBrewer

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I'm not a believer. My understanding, though, is that higher oxygen in the mash will absolutely darken beer -- while LoDo's effect on flavor may be controversial, the effect on color is well established. (No, I don't have an academic reference on hand.)
Not meaning to push this thread into a debate over the pros and cons of LODO brewing, but the video by @Bassman2003 is a really useful look into the process and contains a comparison of 4 different batches of different oxygen exposure. It at least gave me some insight into the process and equipment needed and what I might expect if I adapted LODO brewing.
 
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yard_bird

yard_bird

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Getting a pale beer with all grain should be pretty attainable. I’m wondering if maybe you’re using grain that’s darker than you realize.

Do you mind sharing your grain bill for the beers that have turned out “burnt orange”?
I’m trying to look those up, but I took a two-ish year hiatus from brewing and have recently returned. Since I focused on Belgians my guess is American pils with between 5-15% of specialty malt (either biscuit, Vienna, victory).

I’ve just recently started paying attention to the lovibond at different malts at my brew store to better dial these colors in. I’m sure I’ve used 60L Munich instead of 10L Munich before thinking they were the same thing for example.
 

Kickass

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I’m trying to look those up, but I took a two-ish year hiatus from brewing and have recently returned. Since I focused on Belgians my guess is American pils with between 5-15% of specialty malt (either biscuit, Vienna, victory).

I’ve just recently started paying attention to the lovibond at different malts at my brew store to better dial these colors in. I’m sure I’ve used 60L Munich instead of 10L Munich before thinking they were the same thing for example.
Ah, this probably resolves your color issues. Lovibond is key and your indicator of color. Keep your malt less than 4 and you’ll have pale beer. Keep it less than 2 and it’ll be a very light yellow.

Pilsner, pale two row and pale ale malt are some barley malts that’ll be your friend.

I really like Vienna, it’s around 4. It easily adds more flavor than its color suggests.
 

dwhite60

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You want something good, light, and easy look up "Cream of Three Crops" here. Its a great beer and should easily fulfill your light color requirement.
 
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