Brewing low ABV

Discussion in 'Beginners Brewing Forum' started by okoncentrerad, Feb 12, 2018.

  1. okoncentrerad

    okoncentrerad Active Member

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    For a low ABV beer, what's the best technique for brewing a low alcohol beer regarding mash temperature and yeast attenuation? Is it something people consider when brewing low ABV? I wouldn't think it's just about cutting down on the grain bill? With my limited knowledge my first thought were higher mash temp and a less attenuating yeast, but is that true?

    I put this Q in the beginners section of the forum because it really feels as a newbie question...
     
  2. BoomerBrian

    BoomerBrian Active Member

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  3. BOB357

    BOB357 Well-Known Member

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    +1 to good advice above. Also, Jen Talley did a great job on this book.
     
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  4. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    A proper low-ABV beer needs an all-of-the-above approach. Start with a smaller malt bill, mash in such way that you achieve the balance between fermentability and body that's proper for style and use a yeast that's suited to the level of attenuation that you expect. It's hard to change just one thing without changing the other variables. For instance if you used a big malt bill and standard mash temp and chose a yeast that would definitely give low attenuation, you'd end up with a beer that's lower alcohol but very sweet with residual sugar. A smaller malt bill alone with average mash temp might give a lower ABV beer with very thin body.
    Based on my system, I get good 4%+ beers based on a grist of less than 1.5 lbs per gallon, mash temp in the 152 range or step mash of 148 and 158 and yeast that will attenuate somewhere between 75 and 80 percent depending on style.
     
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  5. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Small, sub-flavor threshold additions of spices can help as well. Cinnamon and nutmeg or mace in very small amounts add flavor to a beer without flavoring it, so you say, Hmmmm, I wonder what that was.
     
  6. okoncentrerad

    okoncentrerad Active Member

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    Thanks guys. I think I've understood that yeasts may performs different depending on type of sugar in the wort, some sugar is unfermentable and some is harder for some yeasts to handle? So, mashing at a higher temp, apart from producing more unfermentable sugar, does it have other side effects on some yeast strains resulting in perhaps too high FG?
    For instance, I was looking at the Lallemand Windsor Ale yeast (medium attenuation) and some posts on some forums suggests mashing at lower temp since it performs worse, less attenuation, the higher the mash temp. So the result would be multiplied so to say....making the fermentation end too early at a ridiculous high FG.

    Am I on the wrong track here and as usual trying to think too much? If not...does the yeast-thingy-part in the recipe builder consider these things? I've noted that FG changes depending on the mash temp entered, but I would guess that it uses the same attenuation level regardless?
     
  7. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    Look at the yeast section of the calculator...Once you choose a yeast, a number will show up in the "Avg Attenuation" spot and that's what the calculator will base the FG on. If you choose a different yeast and don't change anything else, the Avg Attenuation may change to reflect the new yeast's performance and the result will be a change in FG on the recipe.
    The thing to realize is that the calculator uses an average attenuation figure based on the manufacturer's data. It's usually a pretty good guess, but your actual attenuation may be higher or lower. For instance I can almost always push a low-average yeast into higher attenuation by using a sugar "feed" in the fermenter rather than the boil to kick the yeast into high gear and make them use up more of the maltose than they would have.
    If you have experience with a certain yeast or do some research and realize that it's likely to attenuate higher than the average listed on the calculator, you can check the "Custom Attenuation" box and plug in a number that's more likely. Conversely, if you've brewed a certain recipe identically a few times and never gotten the attenuation that's predicted but you like the resulting beer, you can enter a number that's lower than average and have a better prediction.
    Hope that helps. :)
     
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  8. BoomerBrian

    BoomerBrian Active Member

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  9. Head First

    Head First Well-Known Member

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    Okoncentrad, if you do not own a copy of John Palmers "How to Brew" then I really think you should buy a copy of it. You posses a lot of knowledge about yeast and fermentation but haven't tied it all together. This book is written for pro's and beginners and has info all brewers can use. Everyone on this forum wants to help you make great beer and will always continue to do so but I am guessing you are at the same point that I realized a few years back that I just needed to bring more info into my beer diet. You have dabbled enough I'm sure you will understand most of what he explains. Charlie Papazian's "Home Brewers Guide" is good also. Reading seemed to help me as I could use the book as a reference also.
     
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  10. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

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    I'll second that, and throw Radical Brewing by Mosher onto your reading list
     
  11. okoncentrerad

    okoncentrerad Active Member

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    Yes you are right, I do feel I'm spamming the forum with questions high and low. Searching for information on the net is a great thing, but what you usually end up with is a lot of bits and pieces and, as you say, tie it all together isn't easy. Hence trying to take short cuts and make others do the math for me. I've had my finger hoovering the "order now" button for that book a couple of times now...better do it now before you all kick me out of here :D Having information in a concentrated format as a book will surely be good.

    I guess my personality is to want to know things NOW, both WHY and WHAT IF. Sometimes I wish I could just settle with - it just works that way, find out why later, and try the what if on a future brew. :rolleyes:
     
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  12. okoncentrerad

    okoncentrerad Active Member

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    best.png
    As promised :) I'm going to enjoy the read, need a break from too much crime books lately!

    Edit: Just remembered I missed the "session beer"-book recommended earlier...will see if I can add that to the order in arrears
     
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  13. Head First

    Head First Well-Known Member

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    Those are purchases you won't regret. Charlie's was my first book and I still refer back to it. Palmer will get you as deep as you want to go. I haven't read the session beer book but I think it will answer lots of questions for you. But don't stop asking questions on this forum and keep us posted with your beers.
     
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  14. jeffpn

    jeffpn Well-Known Member

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    Ask away! There are lots of guys here willing to share their methods with you. That’s why we’re here - we like to discuss homebrew. Just keep in mind the brewer’s maxim A = B + 1, where A is the total number of answers that you get, and B is the number of brewers giving an answer.
     
  15. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    The good thing about this forum is that it's an active community with some top notch brewers who are willing to share their considerable experience. Since I joined up a couple of years ago, I really feel like my brewing has been improved a lot by having access to this resource.
     
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  16. Mase

    Mase Well-Known Member

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    Couldn’t agree more. :D
     
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  17. thunderwagn

    thunderwagn Well-Known Member

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    I agree. Great book with lots of advice for brewing lower abv.
     

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