Session-ifying Theory or How to influence body when adjusting the alcohol content

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chuck7

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Hi All,

I've lurked here for a long time with very little posting, mostly because I've been able to gather ton's of advice and information without ever having to ask a specific question - so I will start by saying thank you.

I'm posting this question because even though I've ran across several threads that hit on the subject in a way, but I'm hoping to understand more of the theory on the topic than specific practical examples.

So as the title suggests, I'm in the process of session-ifying a recipe I have. It's for a Black IPA which I formulated.

As originally formulated, the stats are as follows:

OG: 1.063
FG: 1.015

ABV: 6.26%

IBU: 120.43
Color: 44.8SRM


I want to produce an version of this beer in the sessionable sub 4% range. I know I'm not going to be able to swing the ABV by itself, but at the same time I would like to effect the other features, particularly body, as little as possible.

I already know from reading Palmer and other sources that there is a relationship between IBU and OG points that will contribute to the overall perception of "hoppyness".

As such, I plan to keep roughly a 2:1 ratio in OG points to IBUs meaning my new target OG of 1.042 means I want to back the IBUs out to about 84ish.

Is there a similar adjustment I could make to control or at least influence body? From what I've read, it seems like increasing the percentage of crystal malt in the grain bill would increase body but whats the threshold on that? Specifically, I would like to keep the beer dry in finish and I know crystal increases sweetness along with body.

I recall reading some about adding flaked grains to increase body and or head retention - would adding a small percentage of a flaked grain be appropriate here and if so - which one?

Thanks,
Chuck
 

motorneuron

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This is a very interesting topic, and it's one that has definitely seen some good treatment in other places. As a starting point, I would definitely recommend reading The Mad Fermentationist's post on how to make a sessionable beer: http://www.themadfermentationist.com/2012/01/vienna-malt-session-ipa-recipe.html

As he says, just try some of those things, not all of them. But yes, you can use proteins from unmalted (flaked) grains to up the body without adding sweetness. Crystal will give you a higher FG but may do so by being too sweet. For a black IPA, you could consider using flaked barley, wheat or rye.

I still think it's tricky to do a low-gravity beer well. But a dark, hoppy beer might have a better shot, because it has two sources of flavor that are more or less independent of ABV (roast and hops). Guinness, for example, is very low alcohol by homebrew or craft standards, but nobody complains that it's watery; it relies on roast and a little acidity (which is also basically independent of ABV) to give it a great flavor without being stupefying.
 

sleepystevenson

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I don't have experience with session Black IPA's, but I do w/ regular IPA's. I have always loved the commercial and homebrewed session ipa's but find they are sometimes rather thin in body and a little "watery".

For my session IPA's, I use more specialty grains - specifically carapils and Munich.

A standard ipa grainbill at around OG of 1.060 +/- would be 90% + base malt, with 5%+ of crystal. (I usually use 40.) and maybe 5% vienna or munich or victory or carapils, etc.

For a session IPA, I would use around 70-75% base malt, 10% carapils, 10% munich, 5%-8% crystal 20 and/or 40, and maybe 5%+/- of another specialty grain (victory, melanoidan, etc.). (All percentages are approximate)

Still mash them around 150 - 152. Final gravities are in the 1.010 - 1.011 area so they are still nice and dry/crisp.

These changes to the grainbill have always given me what I look for in the session IPA's - namely more body - while still not tasting like an amber ale with a ton of crystal.


For the hops, I basically eliminate entirely the bittering addition - getting all the ibus at 15, 0, and hopback. (usually a healthy dry-hop, too). One difference - my ibu ratio is usually just a little more than 1:1. (ex: 50 ibu, 1.046 starting gravity.) I prefer a ton of hop flavor and aroma and not a HUGE bitterness. Looks like you like that huge bitterness, based on your ratio.

A standard IPA at 1.060+ starting gravity might have 48 oz of hops in the boil. Only 2 oz+/- as bittering, the rest at 15,5,0, hopback.

A session IPA at 1.045-50 OG might have 10 fewer ounces of hops (38 oz). All late, no bittering addition.

Hope that gives you a little guidance anyway! Post back your results of the session black IPA, as that is something I haven't made yet!
 

Beernik

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Unita Brewing, for their 4% beers uses ~ 12oz Carapils for a 5 gallon batch to get the mouthfeel and the mashes at a low temp to get the ABV from the other grains.
 

tennesseean_87

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I've heard a good rule of thumb is to take a standard recipe and just cut your base malt. This will increase your % of specialty malts. The other tips in the link are great. Low attenuating yeast, flaked grains, higher mash temp, etc.

I have a session saison recipe which I love, but I break all the rules. 6% Special B, no sugar, and mash at 160, using 1/3 malted wheat for body. But I fermented with 3711, so it still dried out from 1038 to 1001. It is really crisp and refreshing despite the mas temp, crystal, etc.
 

jbaysurfer

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You can mash it at a higher temp, or use carapils to add body. Crystal (as you alluded too) will also do this, but that's tweaking the flavor profile more then I would (personally speaking).
 

jbaysurfer

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A standard IPA at 1.060+ starting gravity might have 48 oz of hops in the boil. Only 2 oz+/- as bittering, the rest at 15,5,0, hopback.

A session IPA at 1.045-50 OG might have 10 fewer ounces of hops (38 oz). All late, no bittering addition.

How big are your batches? Pliny the Elder is a classic IIPA and has 16 oz (including dry hops) per 5G batch. You must be doing 20G batches?
 

sleepystevenson

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I have a one barrel system, but usually get around 28 gals final product. A standard gravity IPA (1.065+/-) gets around 48 oz in the boil (including 16 oz + in the hopback), plus another 10 oz +/- dryhop. Depends on the desired result. I use all whole hops. I prefer lots of hop flavor and aroma in my IPA's, without the smack in the face bitterness of some.
 
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chuck7

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Thanks everyone. I ended up bumping up the existing crystal percentage a little bit and then last night promptly over shot my gravity by about 12 points, so now it's a not-so-session beer :)
 
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