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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: homoeccentricus on April 17, 2015, 12:12:27 PM

Title: thin beer
Post by: homoeccentricus on April 17, 2015, 12:12:27 PM
It's a well-known fact that many beginning homebrewers make watery, thin, flavorless beers. Why, I've heard people claim that this is almost a defining aspect of the homebrewer.

What would be the top factors causing this? How can this thinness be avoided? Obviously I'm not talking about my own beers, just want to help fellow-brewers  8)
Title: Re: thin beer
Post by: unclebrazzie on April 17, 2015, 12:22:51 PM
just want to help fellow-brewers 

Suppressing the lingering suspicion you're talking about me, I'd hazard that a couple of "beginner's techniques" (aka "errors") could be said to attribute to thinness.
Being unable to control mashing temperature, for starters.
Using the s***loads of sugar that typically come with brewkits, to follow up.
Generally brewing stylistically "thinnish" beers like tripels, to conclude.

I'm generalising, of course, but these would be the first three things that come to mind. Avoiding any or all of the above would prevent the brewing of "unsuitably" thin beers.

Fermentation control would an a last one: if you can't control the yeast, it'll eat up everything it finds. Combined with the above, uncontrolled fermentation would sort of imply thin beer as a de facto result.

That being said: I've a few beers that turned out too thin. There, I admitted it to the while group :)

Title: Re: thin beer
Post by: HoosierBrew on April 17, 2015, 12:24:20 PM
That's funny, I've noticed just the opposite.  New brewers (at least ones I've sampled beers from) , especially ones that start as extract/steeping grains brewers, often have overly sweet , underattenuated beers due to the lower fermentability of many extracts. And making things worse, a lot of them use way, way too much crystal. But to answer your question, to build body in an AG beer, a higher mash temp (154-160F) along with use of wheat, rye, or flaked barley would help, as would choosing a less attenuative yeast strain.  As for being flavorless, that's a recipe issue. Gotta experiment with malts and hops.
Title: Re: thin beer
Post by: homoeccentricus on April 17, 2015, 12:33:19 PM
The last couple of days I've seen a couple of complaints from beginning homebrewers. You read the recipe and the process, and nothing really jumps out, at least not to an advanced beginner like myself. And people start giving all kinds of advice that may or may not be relevant...
Title: Re: thin beer
Post by: homoeccentricus on April 17, 2015, 12:36:12 PM
just want to help fellow-brewers 
Suppressing the lingering suspicion you're talking about me

You are a bright star in my night, Uncle, but not the center of my universe.
Title: Re: thin beer
Post by: HoosierBrew on April 17, 2015, 12:37:48 PM
And people start giving all kinds of advice that may or may not be relevant...

Yeah, for sure. It's hard to know what's good advice and what isn't when you start.
Title: Re: thin beer
Post by: unclebrazzie on April 17, 2015, 01:00:27 PM
You are a bright star in my night, Uncle, but not the center of my universe.

 :'(
Title: Re: thin beer
Post by: Frankenbrew on April 17, 2015, 01:14:35 PM
It's a well-known fact that many beginning homebrewers make watery, thin, flavorless beers. Why, I've heard people claim that this is almost a defining aspect of the homebrewer.

What would be the top factors causing this? How can this thinness be avoided? Obviously I'm not talking about my own beers, just want to help fellow-brewers  8)


It is "a well known fact." Well known by whom?

I don't know much about facts, but I know beginner homebrewers who have won contests with their first brew. And watery, thin, and flavorless are not what I usually think of when I am thinking about the results of beginning homebrewers. It seems to me that these are worn out prejudices backed up by outdated anecdotal evidence.

Maybe you should do a scientific study.  ;)
Title: Re: thin beer
Post by: dmtaylor on April 17, 2015, 01:20:19 PM
I too agree not to agree.  I don't think novice homebrewers make watery thin lifeless beers.  They might not be stellar brews, but I wouldn't come to a conclusion quite like that.

Tiring of saying the same old things in 17,000 different ways, for single-page printable generic guidance for new brewers, I always just post this:

(http://i1022.photobucket.com/albums/af341/dmtaylo1/extract-beginnerrulesofthumb.png) (http://s1022.photobucket.com/user/dmtaylo1/media/extract-beginnerrulesofthumb.png.html)
Title: Re: thin beer
Post by: homoeccentricus on April 17, 2015, 01:33:02 PM
It's a well-known fact that many beginning homebrewers make watery, thin, flavorless beers. Why, I've heard people claim that this is almost a defining aspect of the homebrewer.

What would be the top factors causing this? How can this thinness be avoided? Obviously I'm not talking about my own beers, just want to help fellow-brewers  8)


It is "a well known fact." Well known by whom?

It is well-known that virtually ALL my well-known facts are well known to be well-known facts.
Title: Re: thin beer
Post by: HoosierBrew on April 17, 2015, 01:33:56 PM
I too agree not to agree.  I don't think novice homebrewers make watery thin lifeless beers.  They might not be stellar brews, but I wouldn't come to a conclusion quite like that.

Tiring of saying the same old things in 17,000 different ways, for single-page printable generic guidance for new brewers, I always just post this:

(http://i1022.photobucket.com/albums/af341/dmtaylo1/extract-beginnerrulesofthumb.png) (http://s1022.photobucket.com/user/dmtaylo1/media/extract-beginnerrulesofthumb.png.html)

That's a pretty nice guide, Dave. I wish that thing had been around back when I started, especially the extract part.
Title: Re: thin beer
Post by: euge on April 17, 2015, 01:37:44 PM
I say one can make great beer even with as much as 40% cane sugar. Stumbled on this ratio as a new brewer and would consider it poor practice these days, but if treated properly turns out quite well.


Great chart! Should be required reading material.
Title: Re: thin beer
Post by: homoeccentricus on April 17, 2015, 01:38:02 PM
It's a well-known fact that many beginning homebrewers make watery, thin, flavorless beers. Why, I've heard people claim that this is almost a defining aspect of the homebrewer.

What would be the top factors causing this? How can this thinness be avoided? Obviously I'm not talking about my own beers, just want to help fellow-brewers  8)


It is "a well known fact." Well known by whom?

I don't know much about facts, but I know beginner homebrewers who have won contests with their first brew. And watery, thin, and flavorless are not what I usually think of when I am thinking about the results of beginning homebrewers. It seems to me that these are worn out prejudices backed up by outdated anecdotal evidence.

Maybe you should do a scientific study.  ;)


If it's the homebrewers themselves who complain that their beers are thin, watery and tasteless, are you suggesting I should tell them they may be delusional?  :P
Title: Re: thin beer
Post by: pete b on April 17, 2015, 01:43:44 PM
I thought my first beers were too sweet.
Title: Re: thin beer
Post by: homoeccentricus on April 17, 2015, 01:48:03 PM
OK, let me rephrase  ::) if there are novice homebrewers who complain that there brews are thin, watery etc., and it's not immediately obvious what they are doing wrong, is there any specific advice we can give?
Title: Re: thin beer
Post by: HoosierBrew on April 17, 2015, 01:51:19 PM
OK, let me rephrase  ::) if there are novice homebrewers who complain that there brews are thin, watery etc., and it's not immediately obvious what they are doing wrong, is there any specific advice we can give?

But to answer your question, to build body in an AG beer, a higher mash temp (154-160F) along with use of wheat, rye, or flaked barley would help, as would choosing a less attenuative yeast strain.  As for being flavorless, that's a recipe issue. Gotta experiment with malts and hops.

First time quoting myself.  ;D
Title: Re: thin beer
Post by: dmtaylor on April 17, 2015, 01:57:34 PM
is there any specific advice we can give?

See my post on previous page.  It's quite specific.

to build body in an AG beer, a higher mash temp (154-160F) along with use of wheat, rye, or flaked barley would help, as would choosing a less attenuative yeast strain.  As for being flavorless, that's a recipe issue. Gotta experiment with malts and hops.

And that's very good too.
Title: Re: thin beer
Post by: euge on April 17, 2015, 02:14:43 PM
I prefer "insipid" to "flavorless" because it really puts a twist to the knife of my critique. :)
Title: Re: thin beer
Post by: homoeccentricus on April 17, 2015, 02:29:28 PM
How about: "if your beer tastes thin, try again in two weeks."?  :P
Title: Re: thin beer
Post by: Pinski on April 17, 2015, 03:09:35 PM
You are a bright star in my night, Uncle, but not the center of my universe.

Nice, that one's going in the quiver for sure. 
Title: Re: thin beer
Post by: denny on April 17, 2015, 03:16:07 PM
It's a well-known fact that many beginning homebrewers make watery, thin, flavorless beers. Why, I've heard people claim that this is almost a defining aspect of the homebrewer.

What would be the top factors causing this? How can this thinness be avoided? Obviously I'm not talking about my own beers, just want to help fellow-brewers  8)

I find that most homebrewers make beers that are too thick and dextrous, not too thin.  I've spent the last 10 years working on getting the drinkable body I want.
Title: Re: thin beer
Post by: denny on April 17, 2015, 03:17:50 PM
OK, let me rephrase  ::) if there are novice homebrewers who complain that there brews are thin, watery etc., and it's not immediately obvious what they are doing wrong, is there any specific advice we can give?

Brew more, taste more beers.
Title: Re: thin beer
Post by: denny on April 17, 2015, 03:26:05 PM
That's funny, I've noticed just the opposite.  New brewers (at least ones I've sampled beers from) , especially ones that start as extract/steeping grains brewers, often have overly sweet , underattenuated beers due to the lower fermentability of many extracts. And making things worse, a lot of them use way, way too much crystal. But to answer your question, to build body in an AG beer, a higher mash temp (154-160F) along with use of wheat, rye, or flaked barley would help, as would choosing a less attenuative yeast strain.  As for being flavorless, that's a recipe issue. Gotta experiment with malts and hops.

An interesting note...in his book "Homebrew Beyond the Basics", Mike Karnowski relates an experiment he did.  He brewed 2 version of a recipe, one mashed at 146 and the other at 1.064.  The low mash temp batch finished at 1.006 and the high mash temp finished at 1.016.  In a tasting with 10 commercial brewers and judges, 9 of them chose the low temp, low FG batch as having more body.  So, does mash temp and FG really matter that much?
Title: Re: thin beer
Post by: HoosierBrew on April 17, 2015, 03:32:22 PM
That's funny, I've noticed just the opposite.  New brewers (at least ones I've sampled beers from) , especially ones that start as extract/steeping grains brewers, often have overly sweet , underattenuated beers due to the lower fermentability of many extracts. And making things worse, a lot of them use way, way too much crystal. But to answer your question, to build body in an AG beer, a higher mash temp (154-160F) along with use of wheat, rye, or flaked barley would help, as would choosing a less attenuative yeast strain.  As for being flavorless, that's a recipe issue. Gotta experiment with malts and hops.

An interesting note...in his book "Homebrew Beyond the Basics", Mike Karnowski relates an experiment he did.  He brewed 2 version of a recipe, one mashed at 146 and the other at 1.064.  The low mash temp batch finished at 1.006 and the high mash temp finished at 1.016.  In a tasting with 10 commercial brewers and judges, 9 of them chose the low temp, low FG batch as having more body.  So, does mash temp and FG really matter that much?

Wow, I hadn't heard of that one, Denny. I would think, if nothing else, that the FGs would've been more distinguishable from one another in the same recipe. Raises a lot of questions.

EDIT - What I mean is that you wouldn't have expected the conclusions they drew. I'd always expect 1.006 to seem thinner.
Title: Re: thin beer
Post by: homoeccentricus on April 17, 2015, 03:32:46 PM
OK, let me rephrase  ::) if there are novice homebrewers who complain that there brews are thin, watery etc., and it's not immediately obvious what they are doing wrong, is there any specific advice we can give?

Brew more, taste more beers.

Now THAT's useful and specific advice!


(I may have to report you to a moderator.)
Title: Re: thin beer
Post by: denny on April 17, 2015, 03:33:31 PM
Wow, I hadn't heard of that one, Denny. I would think, if nothing else, that the FGs would've been more distinguishable from one another in the same recipe. Raises a lot of questions.

Yep.  I recently had a similar experience with my American mild recipe.  I think this needs to be looked into.
Title: Re: thin beer
Post by: denny on April 17, 2015, 03:34:28 PM
Now THAT's useful and specific advice!

Well, it actually is.  And if it helps, I've reported myself!  ;)
Title: Re: thin beer
Post by: Wort-H.O.G. on April 17, 2015, 03:37:26 PM
That's funny, I've noticed just the opposite.  New brewers (at least ones I've sampled beers from) , especially ones that start as extract/steeping grains brewers, often have overly sweet , underattenuated beers due to the lower fermentability of many extracts. And making things worse, a lot of them use way, way too much crystal. But to answer your question, to build body in an AG beer, a higher mash temp (154-160F) along with use of wheat, rye, or flaked barley would help, as would choosing a less attenuative yeast strain.  As for being flavorless, that's a recipe issue. Gotta experiment with malts and hops.



An interesting note...in his book "Homebrew Beyond the Basics", Mike Karnowski relates an experiment he did.  He brewed 2 version of a recipe, one mashed at 146 and the other at 1.064.  The low mash temp batch finished at 1.006 and the high mash temp finished at 1.016.  In a tasting with 10 commercial brewers and judges, 9 of them chose the low temp, low FG batch as having more body.  So, does mash temp and FG really matter that much?

Wow, I hadn't heard of that one, Denny. I would think, if nothing else, that the FGs would've been more distinguishable from one another in the same recipe. Raises a lot of questions.

EDIT - What I mean is that you wouldn't have expected the conclusions they drew. I'd always expect 1.006 to seem thinner.

same reason why a low FG saison made correctly can make people think they are drinking a higher FG beer. low FG isn't one for one equated with body perception and mouthfeel.
Title: Re: thin beer
Post by: HoosierBrew on April 17, 2015, 03:39:41 PM
Wow, I hadn't heard of that one, Denny. I would think, if nothing else, that the FGs would've been more distinguishable from one another in the same recipe. Raises a lot of questions.

Yep.  I recently had a similar experience with my American mild recipe.  I think this needs to be looked into.

It makes me wonder about using carapils. I've never seen the need for it in so many recipes, but a lot of breweries do seem to use it still - maybe it is a way after all to have a beer finish at, say 1.006-1.008, be drinkable, but still have nice body. 
Title: Re: thin beer
Post by: Wort-H.O.G. on April 17, 2015, 03:42:34 PM
Wow, I hadn't heard of that one, Denny. I would think, if nothing else, that the FGs would've been more distinguishable from one another in the same recipe. Raises a lot of questions.

Yep.  I recently had a similar experience with my American mild recipe.  I think this needs to be looked into.

It makes me wonder about using carapils. I've never seen the need for it in so many recipes, but a lot of breweries do seem to use it still - maybe it is a way after all to have a beer finish at, say 1.006-1.008, be drinkable, but still have nice body.

+1 also my thoughts. i use carapils more often these days, and also some wheat here and there for precisely that reason.
Title: Re: thin beer
Post by: homoeccentricus on April 17, 2015, 03:49:18 PM
Maybe, as UncleBrazzie suggests, this thinness is a problem more prominent in Belgian (and presumably German) beers?
Title: Re: thin beer
Post by: HoosierBrew on April 17, 2015, 03:49:50 PM
same reason why a low FG saison made correctly can make people think they are drinking a higher FG beer. low FG isn't one for one equated with body perception and mouthfeel.

For sure. Yeast strain (3711 comes to mind for saison) and grist, too.  I still would think in identical recipes the 10 pt lower FG would seem thinner.
Title: Re: thin beer
Post by: Wort-H.O.G. on April 17, 2015, 03:51:49 PM
same reason why a low FG saison made correctly can make people think they are drinking a higher FG beer. low FG isn't one for one equated with body perception and mouthfeel.

For sure. Yeast strain (3711 comes to mind for saison) and grist, too.  I still would think in identical recipes the 10 pt lower FG would seem thinner.

+1
Title: Re: thin beer
Post by: denny on April 17, 2015, 04:24:35 PM
It makes me wonder about using carapils. I've never seen the need for it in so many recipes, but a lot of breweries do seem to use it still - maybe it is a way after all to have a beer finish at, say 1.006-1.008, be drinkable, but still have nice body.

That's what I discovered working on the Am. mild.  Mash temp made little to no difference, but heavy doses of carapils and crystal did.
Title: Re: thin beer
Post by: euge on April 17, 2015, 04:25:04 PM
I'm been chasing the same phantom as Denny. The Belgian beers that inspire me have this quality, whereas many  of their counterparts are too syrupy and cloyingly sweet. Many British ales have the body I'm looking for. I never would have thought to consider any beer out of Germany "thin"...

Perhaps it has something to do with the mineral content in combination with proper fermentation.

To me it's a lightness in body with out being weak in flavor. Sort of a fluffy silky soft mouthfeel.
Title: Re: thin beer
Post by: denny on April 17, 2015, 04:25:41 PM
same reason why a low FG saison made correctly can make people think they are drinking a higher FG beer. low FG isn't one for one equated with body perception and mouthfeel.

For sure. Yeast strain (3711 comes to mind for saison) and grist, too.  I still would think in identical recipes the 10 pt lower FG would seem thinner.

+1

Yeah, we'd all think that, but this experiment seems to indicate differently.  I look forward to trying it myself.
Title: Re: thin beer
Post by: HoosierBrew on April 17, 2015, 04:35:44 PM
same reason why a low FG saison made correctly can make people think they are drinking a higher FG beer. low FG isn't one for one equated with body perception and mouthfeel.

For sure. Yeast strain (3711 comes to mind for saison) and grist, too.  I still would think in identical recipes the 10 pt lower FG would seem thinner.

+1

Yeah, we'd all think that, but this experiment seems to indicate differently.  I look forward to trying it myself.

Me too.
Title: Re: thin beer
Post by: Frankenbrew on April 17, 2015, 09:18:46 PM
I prefer "insipid" to "flavorless" because it really puts a twist to the knife of my critique. :)

Nice! Good word choice.
Title: Re: thin beer
Post by: dannyjed on April 17, 2015, 10:50:54 PM
That's funny, I've noticed just the opposite.  New brewers (at least ones I've sampled beers from) , especially ones that start as extract/steeping grains brewers, often have overly sweet , underattenuated beers due to the lower fermentability of many extracts. And making things worse, a lot of them use way, way too much crystal. But to answer your question, to build body in an AG beer, a higher mash temp (154-160F) along with use of wheat, rye, or flaked barley would help, as would choosing a less attenuative yeast strain.  As for being flavorless, that's a recipe issue. Gotta experiment with malts and hops.
I agree with this +1. I even had this problem with some of my early, extract brews.
Title: Re: thin beer
Post by: klickitat jim on April 17, 2015, 11:09:32 PM
According to several studies it is a well known fact that I think too much body and sweetness would be more common with new brewers, with a magin of error of 100%. My first beers had so much body they had to be beaten into the glass with a night stick, and had not only too much flavor but too many flavors as well. Chewy as a neoprene glove and many similar odors and flavors.

You can achieve this by using LME, no sugar, and steep the snot out of about 5 lbs of crystal per 5 gallons. Then have no idea what sanitation is.

I've conquered that, but now I almost need to start going the other way with some of my beers. Some of my sours are a tad thin. I guess its not essy to have a 1.003 FG and have some body left.
Title: Re: thin beer
Post by: HoosierBrew on April 17, 2015, 11:14:44 PM
My first beers had so much body they had to be beaten into the glass with a night stick,

OMG that's funny. I resemble that, Jim. I'm pretty sure a few of my first beers could be poured on pancakes if I got to try them now.   ;D
Title: Re: thin beer
Post by: klickitat jim on April 17, 2015, 11:43:57 PM
My first beers had so much body they had to be beaten into the glass with a night stick,

OMG that's funny. I resemble that, Jim. I'm pretty sure a few of my first beers could be poured on pancakes if I got to try them now.   ;D
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