Author Topic: How do I make a super low alcohol beer?  (Read 1366 times)

Offline Pi

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How do I make a super low alcohol beer?
« on: June 23, 2014, 05:37:08 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?
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Offline dkfick

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Re: How do I make a super low alcohol beer?
« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2014, 05:40:52 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.
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Re: How do I make a super low alcohol beer?
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2014, 05:49:34 AM »
I've made done very good low gravity saisons and "table" Belgian ales under 4%. I'm about to do a beer experiment with a super low OG beer with 50% pils and 50% blend of crystal and cara pils. In fact I'm kicking around trying it out today if I have enough time.
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Offline leejoreilly

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Re: How do I make a super low alcohol beer?
« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2014, 06:13:10 AM »
I just kegged a Scottish Light 60 Shilling at about 3%; should be easy to get it down to maybe 2.5% or even lower and still have some character.

Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: How do I make a super low alcohol beer?
« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2014, 06:57:35 AM »
It's hard to get a really good punch of flavor and body that low but it definitely can be done. Has your friend ever explored hoppy beers? That is a good way to inject a lot of flavor without worrying about ABV. Generally my thought is that you want to mash high to reduce the amount of fermentable sugars and keep a lot of body intact.
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Offline Wheat_Brewer

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Re: How do I make a super low alcohol beer?
« Reply #5 on: June 23, 2014, 07:04:30 AM »
What about a mild? Those are generally 3-3.5% beers to start with and have good flavor. I can image mashing with a higher temp as already suggested and maybe scaling back on your base malt would get you down into the 2% range without much trade off in flavor.
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Offline dkfick

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Re: How do I make a super low alcohol beer?
« Reply #6 on: June 23, 2014, 07:21:16 AM »
From what the guy was drinking and what he currently is drinking... I made 2 assumptions.  A) He doesn't like/want beer with lots of flavor and B) He doesn't like 'sweet' beer.  Most of the NA beers (including St Paulie Girl N/A) have this unfermented wort sweet flavor... That is their main downfall. 
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Offline Pi

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Re: How do I make a super low alcohol beer?
« Reply #7 on: June 23, 2014, 08:02:56 AM »
From what the guy was drinking and what he currently is drinking... I made 2 assumptions.  A) He doesn't like/want beer with lots of flavor and B) He doesn't like 'sweet' beer.  Most of the NA beers (including St Paulie Girl N/A) have this unfermented wort sweet flavor... That is their main downfall.
You are spot on. He is not much of a craft beer guy. I saw this https://byo.com/stories/item/263-brew-a-great-non-alcoholic-beer.
I'm gonna do a Boh Pils and pull some off to experiment with.
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Offline dkfick

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Re: How do I make a super low alcohol beer?
« Reply #8 on: June 23, 2014, 08:08:24 AM »
I'm pretty convinced that the boil off method leaves an undesirable 'drink' afterwards... I think you're better off just brewing it up as a super low OG and letting it ferment out.  Otherwise it just seems the sugars get all out of balance and it turns out disgusting.  The best NA beer I've ever had so far has been Einbecker Brauherren Alkoholfrei.  What made it the best was the fact it didn't have the gross unbalanced malt sweetness.
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Offline dbeechum

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Re: How do I make a super low alcohol beer?
« Reply #9 on: June 23, 2014, 08:17:50 AM »
Here's the best lowish alcohol beer I've ever made. It comes in at ~ 2%

https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=11963.msg150105#msg150105
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Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: How do I make a super low alcohol beer?
« Reply #10 on: June 23, 2014, 11:14:02 AM »
If he is willing to spread his wings a bit, you could do a Berlinner Weisse and consider making it into a radler style with some lemon aid or raspberry flavored water to thin it out further.  Or just do the radler on a light German lager.  That taste profile works for summer beers and can be pretty refreshing.
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Offline Jimmy K

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Re: How do I make a super low alcohol beer?
« Reply #11 on: June 23, 2014, 11:46:08 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.
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Offline dkfick

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Re: How do I make a super low alcohol beer?
« Reply #12 on: June 23, 2014, 01:03:53 PM »
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.
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Offline S. cerevisiae

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Re: How do I make a super low alcohol beer?
« Reply #13 on: June 23, 2014, 01:06:10 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



« Last Edit: June 23, 2014, 01:29:19 PM by S. cerevisiae »
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Offline brewinhard

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Re: How do I make a super low alcohol beer?
« Reply #14 on: June 23, 2014, 01:39:24 PM »
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...