Author Topic: How do I make a super low alcohol beer?  (Read 1348 times)

Offline S. cerevisiae

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Re: How do I make a super low alcohol beer?
« Reply #15 on: June 23, 2014, 02:07:40 PM »
I bet if you boiled, cooled, and carbonated the water you would be just fine...

I am with dkfick on this one.  Pasteurized beer tastes bad enough.
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Offline 3bbrewing

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Re: How do I make a super low alcohol beer?
« Reply #16 on: June 23, 2014, 04:33:30 PM »
Greetings...I'm gonna be a little bit of a downer here.  While I feel for your friend that has a liver problem, honestly, he should avoid ANY beverage with alcohol in it.  Even "no alcohol" beers still have a tiny bit.  It may not be what he want's to hear, but it's the best for him. 

I've taken care of quite a few patients with "liver problems" and the end stage is not pretty.  It's a very unpleasant way to die quite frankly.  Encourage your friend to take care of what liver function he has, and stay away from alcohol. 
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Re: How do I make a super low alcohol beer?
« Reply #17 on: June 23, 2014, 07:28:15 PM »
A yeast species known as Saccharomycodes ludwigii  (S. ludwigii) is used in the production of low-alcohol beer.  From what I understand, S. ludwigii only ferments monosaccharides, the disaccharide sucrose, and the trisaccheride raffinose.  It will not ferment maltose or maltotriose. Wort contains only a small amounts of sucrose and raffinose.  The primary disaccharide in wort is maltose; hence, real attenuation of wort produced from a 158F saccharification rest is going to be around 8% of the original extract.   

Interesting proposal. My main concern is that the composition of the remaining extract will be vastly different between a 1.048 beer brewed with S. cerevesiae vs the S. ludwigii. With so much maltose remaining, I'd be concerned that it could taste sweet, underattenuated and/or "worty". Certainly worth a try, though.
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Offline Thirsty_Monk

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Re: How do I make a super low alcohol beer?
« Reply #18 on: June 23, 2014, 08:03:42 PM »

Okay, I have an off-the-wall suggestion for handling a low-alcohol beer.  According to George Fix, a 158F mash produces the following wort composition:

Disaccharide - 41%
Trisaccharide - 16%
Monosaccharide - 8%
Dextrins - 35%


A yeast species known as Saccharomycodes ludwigii  (S. ludwigii) is used in the production of low-alcohol beer.  From what I understand, S. ludwigii only ferments monosaccharides, the disaccharide sucrose, and the trisaccheride raffinose.  It will not ferment maltose or maltotriose. Wort contains only a small amounts of sucrose and raffinose.  The primary disaccharide in wort is maltose; hence, real attenuation of wort produced from a 158F saccharification rest is going to be around 8% of the original extract.   

If you think about it, most normal gravity craft beers have an apparent extract (AE) of around 2.5 to 3 degrees Plato (an F.G. of 1.010 to 1.012) and an original extract (OE) of around 12 to 13 degrees Plato (an O.G. of around 1.048 to 1.053). I know that alcohol is a flavor carrier; therefore, its effect on beer taste cannot be overlooked.  However, what we perceive as body is the real extract remaining after fermentation is complete.  Real extract is the percentage of sugar that is left in solution weight by volume (w/v). 

Degrees Plato is a great scale to use when brewing because it can be used to tell us how much sugar is in solution w/v.  For example, a 1.040 wort contains 10% sugar w/v.

real extract (RE) = (0.8114 * AE) + (0.1886 * OE)

RE = 0.1808 x OE + 0.8192 x AE

Plugging 12 into OE and 3 into RE yields:

RE = 0.1808 x 12 + 0.8192 x 3 = 4.6272 degrees plato

We need to determine what OE we need to start with to obtain an RE of 4.6272 degrees.
As S. ludwigii is going to attenuate a 158F wort by approximately 8%, we need an OE of

4.6272 / 0.92 = 5.03 degrees Plato, which equals an O.G. of approximately 1.020

Hence, a 1.020 gravity wort fermented with a S. ludwigii should have the same RE after fermentation is complete as a 1.048 fermented with a normal brewing strain. 

alcohol by weight (ABW) = (OE - RE) / (2.0665 - 0.010665 x OE)
ABW = (5.03 - 4.6272) / (2.0665 - 0.010665 x 5.03) = 0.2%

alcohol by volume (ABV) = ABW x 1.25
ABV = 0.2 x 1.25 = 0.25%

Now, the final gravity of the beer is not going to be the same as if we had started with a 1.048 wort.  That's because there is less alcohol in solution.

Working backwards from OE and RE yields the equation:

AE = (RE - 0.1808 x OE) / 0.8192

Plugging 4.6272 into RE and 5.03 into OE yields:

AE = (4.6272 - 0.1808 x 5.03) / 0.8192 = 4.54 Plato or an F.G. of 1.018

I think this is correct approach.


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Offline dkfick

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Re: How do I make a super low alcohol beer?
« Reply #19 on: June 24, 2014, 06:22:08 AM »
A yeast species known as Saccharomycodes ludwigii  (S. ludwigii) is used in the production of low-alcohol beer.  From what I understand, S. ludwigii only ferments monosaccharides, the disaccharide sucrose, and the trisaccheride raffinose.  It will not ferment maltose or maltotriose. Wort contains only a small amounts of sucrose and raffinose.  The primary disaccharide in wort is maltose; hence, real attenuation of wort produced from a 158F saccharification rest is going to be around 8% of the original extract.   

Interesting proposal. My main concern is that the composition of the remaining extract will be vastly different between a 1.048 beer brewed with S. cerevesiae vs the S. ludwigii. With so much maltose remaining, I'd be concerned that it could taste sweet, underattenuated and/or "worty". Certainly worth a try, though.
This is the flavor of most NA beers in my opinion... and probably the reason lol.
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Offline dkfick

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Re: How do I make a super low alcohol beer?
« Reply #20 on: June 24, 2014, 06:23:28 AM »
I have a friend with Liver problems He drinks St Paulie Girl N/A and doesnt care for it very much. I would like to brew something for him maybe in the 1-2%ABV range. he is/was a big fan of Yenguling.
Can i just brew a AM light lager and water it down? any recipes you would suggest?

I wouldn't brew an American lite lager and water it down... though a 'session' american lite lager might be good... Just scale it back some.  shoot for an OG of like 1.020.
It may be bupkis, but the Complete Joy of Homebrewing has a recipe for a low abv beer and Charlie says to ferment at higher gravity and water it down. The higher gravity ferment promotes yeast derived flavors.
I'm unconvinced that boiled and cooled water used to water it down won't oxidize it.

I bet if you boiled, cooled, and carbonated the water you would be just fine...

Well the companies like Sierra Nevada that actually do add water to their wort after fermentation spend a lot of money on equipment to properly de-oxygenate their water before adding it into the finished beer...
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Offline S. cerevisiae

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Re: How do I make a super low alcohol beer?
« Reply #21 on: June 24, 2014, 07:34:10 AM »
Interesting proposal. My main concern is that the composition of the remaining extract will be vastly different between a 1.048 beer brewed with S. cerevesiae vs the S. ludwigii. With so much maltose remaining, I'd be concerned that it could taste sweet, underattenuated and/or "worty". Certainly worth a try, though.

NA beer is sweet because it is targeted at Standard American Lager drinkers, which is a consumer base that is generally not into hoppy beers.  I think that the residual sweetness could be balanced via the addition of bitterness. While maltose is sweet, it is not glucose or sucrose sweet. 

Relative Sweetness

Maltose    Disaccharide    0.33 – 0.45
Glucose    Monosaccharide    0.74 – 0.8
Sucrose    Disaccharide    1.00 (reference)
Fructose    Monosaccharide    1.17 – 1.75


I believe that the approach I outlined above would work better with a grainy tasting malt like Pilsner malt than it would with American 2-row.  If we are simulating a green bottle beer, then apparent extract could be reduced.  Green bottle beers are fairly well attenuated.  Let's say that the OE is 11.5P (O.G. 1.046) and the AE is 2P (F.G. 1.008)

RE = 0.1808 x 11.5 + 0.8192 x 2 = 3.72P

As calculated above, RE is going to be approximately 92% of the OE.

OE = 3.72 / .92 = 4.04P =  ~1.016 S.G.

A 4P wort contains 40 grams of extract per liter, which means that one liter of low-alcohol beer produced from a 158F mash would contain 40 x .41 = 16.4 grams of maltose.  Since maltose is 1/3rd as sweet as sucrose, 16.4 grams of maltose is roughly equal to 16.4 x .33 = 5.4 grams of sucrose in sweetness, which is equivalent in sweetness to about 1.4 teaspoons of sucrose dissolved into 1L of water.

Maltotriose is technically the shortest saccharide polymer that can be classified as a maltodextrin.  Have you ever tasted maltodextrin powder?  It is not very sweet.

« Last Edit: June 24, 2014, 07:38:41 AM by S. cerevisiae »
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Offline dkfick

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Re: How do I make a super low alcohol beer?
« Reply #22 on: June 24, 2014, 08:30:19 AM »
I've had plenty of German NA beers that were still very sweet... I don't think it's because they are aimed there I think it's due to process.
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Offline johnf

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Re: How do I make a super low alcohol beer?
« Reply #23 on: June 24, 2014, 09:06:50 AM »
I bet if you boiled, cooled, and carbonated the water you would be just fine...

I am with dkfick on this one.  Pasteurized beer tastes bad enough.

It is increasingly common for craft beers to be pasteurized, especially barrel aged ones after some high profile infections. It doesn't seem to impact those beers negatively. I do not know whether that is because they are robustly flavored beers or if modern flash pasteurizing equipment works very well.

As for S. ludwigii, Fix also wrote that beers fermented with it taste like hopped iced tea (lacking characteristic secondary fermentation products as well as alcohol) and it was quickly abandoned by the NA beer industry.

Since nobody has mentioned this yet, there is an episode of The Brewing Network with Charlie Bamforth as the guest and there was a question about low alcohol beer. He gave the reality check that what industrial brewers produce is the result of millions of dollars of R&D performed by talented people and you are unlikely to do better in your home.

His suggestion was to mash very high (like 165) for a low alcohol beer and to not try to make non-alcohol beer.

Mashing in the 160s horrifies most people because they think the beer will be sweet but things that are not fermentable are either not sweet or much less sweet than sugar. Lagunitus IPA is mashed at 160 I believe and is not a particularly sweet beer.

Offline S. cerevisiae

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Re: How do I make a super low alcohol beer?
« Reply #24 on: June 24, 2014, 10:14:02 AM »
S. ludwigii is still very much in use in the production of NA beer.  It's one of Hefebank Weihenstephan's best selling cultures.  This bank deals primarily with professional brewers.
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Offline redbeerman

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Re: How do I make a super low alcohol beer?
« Reply #25 on: June 24, 2014, 11:32:34 AM »
After reading through this thread, my question is why, not how.... ;)
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: How do I make a super low alcohol beer?
« Reply #26 on: June 24, 2014, 11:54:47 AM »
After reading through this thread, my question is why, not how.... ;)

+1. A good Mild is one thing but almost no alcohol - diminishing returns (to me).   ;)
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Offline dkfick

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Re: How do I make a super low alcohol beer?
« Reply #27 on: June 24, 2014, 02:07:11 PM »
After reading through this thread, my question is why, not how.... ;)

+1. A good Mild is one thing but almost no alcohol - diminishing returns (to me).   ;)
Honestly if I could make a 'beer' with no alcohol that still had the taste of alcohol and all the other yeast byproducts... I would never make a beer with alcohol again.  Obviously that's not possible... but it would be awesome.
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Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: How do I make a super low alcohol beer?
« Reply #28 on: June 26, 2014, 07:51:01 PM »
After reading through this thread, my question is why, not how.... ;)

+1. A good Mild is one thing but almost no alcohol - diminishing returns (to me).   ;)
Honestly if I could make a 'beer' with no alcohol that still had the taste of alcohol and all the other yeast byproducts... I would never make a beer with alcohol again.  Obviously that's not possible... but it would be awesome.

Well I for one don't think "I would never make a beer with alcohol again", but I do agree that a full flavored NA beer would be awesome to have available for those who can't tolerate alcohol....
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