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Author Topic: The color of some light beers...  (Read 3546 times)

Offline Village Taphouse

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The color of some light beers...
« on: February 28, 2022, 10:07:02 am »
When you have a clear, gold lager (think something like Modelo Especial) how do you think the beer gets such a deep color?  You might not think it's that deep but if you were to use pilsner malt and corn (the way that beer MIGHT be made), you would get a much more pale beer.  Have I brought this topic up before?  I was watching a movie last night where people in Cuba were pouring beers that reminded me of this.  It's almost like there could be some coloring added or something.  I can't imagine it's Vienna malt or Munich malt because the flavor doesn't necessarily suggest that but I suppose it's possible.  I can't see it being crystal either but it's clearly got something more than just base malt and corn.  When I make a "Mexican Cerveza" with pilsner malt & flaked corn my color is much more pale and people have actually commented, "Wow, that beer is REALLY light!"  Am I crazy?  When I started using some of the LO steps, I noticed that the color of my beers started to trend towards "more pale"-colored beers.

« Last Edit: February 28, 2022, 10:10:17 am by Village Taphouse »
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Offline denny

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Re: The color of some light beers...
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2022, 10:34:14 am »
Maybe their base malt is darker than the pils you're used to seeing. Maybe they don't use pils malt at all.  Maybe the beers are oxidized.  Too many variables to make a guess.
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Offline Village Taphouse

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Re: The color of some light beers...
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2022, 10:41:37 am »
Maybe their base malt is darker than the pils you're used to seeing. Maybe they don't use pils malt at all.  Maybe the beers are oxidized.  Too many variables to make a guess.
True, they could use 2-row brewer's malt, pale ale malt, etc. I considered the oxidation.  I have seen some homebrewers post a picture of a beer that they say is 2-row + wheat  and a smidge of C20 (I'm making this up) and the beer looks much, much darker than the recipe would suggest and I assume oxidation in those cases.  But it seems like something that happens across the board.  Some of these beers are more pale for sure... Pacifico, Peroni and some others seem more pale.  But even Miller Lite has more color than you might expect for a "light beer".  I have a beer on tap right now that is 75% pilsner and 25% munich 1.  It's still more pale than many light beers. 
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Offline denny

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Re: The color of some light beers...
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2022, 11:25:39 am »
Maybe their base malt is darker than the pils you're used to seeing. Maybe they don't use pils malt at all.  Maybe the beers are oxidized.  Too many variables to make a guess.
True, they could use 2-row brewer's malt, pale ale malt, etc. I considered the oxidation.  I have seen some homebrewers post a picture of a beer that they say is 2-row + wheat  and a smidge of C20 (I'm making this up) and the beer looks much, much darker than the recipe would suggest and I assume oxidation in those cases.  But it seems like something that happens across the board.  Some of these beers are more pale for sure... Pacifico, Peroni and some others seem more pale.  But even Miller Lite has more color than you might expect for a "light beer".  I have a beer on tap right now that is 75% pilsner and 25% munich 1.  It's still more pale than many light beers.

And let's not rule out color distortion due to the photography.  Have you gotten one and actually looked at the color IRL?
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Offline HighVoltageMan!

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Re: The color of some light beers...
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2022, 11:47:18 am »
It’s not uncommon to use Vienna malt in light beers, it’s another tool in the chest. HSA does add color to beers, I’m not sure about CSA.

If you use SMB in the mash, it’s used as a bleaching agent in the food industry. SMB will keep the color quite light. It has been used in the mash in the past in the United States. I believe Miller used it in the 60’s due to darker malt from their suppliers. They wanted the lighter color because it’s what their customers expected.

Offline Village Taphouse

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Re: The color of some light beers...
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2022, 12:03:29 pm »
Maybe their base malt is darker than the pils you're used to seeing. Maybe they don't use pils malt at all.  Maybe the beers are oxidized.  Too many variables to make a guess.
True, they could use 2-row brewer's malt, pale ale malt, etc. I considered the oxidation.  I have seen some homebrewers post a picture of a beer that they say is 2-row + wheat  and a smidge of C20 (I'm making this up) and the beer looks much, much darker than the recipe would suggest and I assume oxidation in those cases.  But it seems like something that happens across the board.  Some of these beers are more pale for sure... Pacifico, Peroni and some others seem more pale.  But even Miller Lite has more color than you might expect for a "light beer".  I have a beer on tap right now that is 75% pilsner and 25% munich 1.  It's still more pale than many light beers.

And let's not rule out color distortion due to the photography.  Have you gotten one and actually looked at the color IRL?
Yes.  Full disclosure:  When I moved into my new place and did not have my own beer up & running yet I drank a lot of Modelo.  For a refreshing commercial beer and "everyday drinker", it's nice.  There *IS* some color to it, no question.
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Offline Village Taphouse

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Re: The color of some light beers...
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2022, 12:06:37 pm »
It’s not uncommon to use Vienna malt in light beers, it’s another tool in the chest. HSA does add color to beers, I’m not sure about CSA.

If you use SMB in the mash, it’s used as a bleaching agent in the food industry. SMB will keep the color quite light. It has been used in the mash in the past in the United States. I believe Miller used it in the 60’s due to darker malt from their suppliers. They wanted the lighter color because it’s what their customers expected.
I used SMB for awhile there but I kept getting that "farty" aroma from it even though I kept lowering my dosage.  But I absolutely noticed more pale wort when I started using it.  I stopped using it sometime in mid-2021 and the colors of the wort still seem to be pretty pale.  I feel like I'm always doing something to get a little more color... Vienna or Munich 1, Copper malt, Caravienne, etc.  But you don't want to start creating flavors that people don't expect to find in that type of beer which is why I mentioned the coloring.  I make a lot of pale beers so this will be an ongoing focus. 
Ken from Chicago. 
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Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: The color of some light beers...
« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2022, 01:22:34 pm »
I know that Carahell is a common malt to add to lagers.  L8-11.8; not that I am saying that it is present here - just a wild guess.
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Offline HighVoltageMan!

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Re: The color of some light beers...
« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2022, 01:34:37 pm »
I know that Carahell is a common malt to add to lagers.  L8-11.8; not that I am saying that it is present here - just a wild guess.
I use Carahell at a rate of 5% in most German beers, the rest is Pils. It does add more of a gold color to the beer, but it certainly isn't dark.

Offline Village Taphouse

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Re: The color of some light beers...
« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2022, 02:07:31 pm »
I know that Carahell is a common malt to add to lagers.  L8-11.8; not that I am saying that it is present here - just a wild guess.
Right, I hear you.  I have been using Copper Malt in small amounts (2.5% up to about 5%).  It lends a nice smoothness to beer and it's 30L so it's going to add some amount of color.  It's also supposed to be good for head formation and stability so I don't see a downside although I think I used close to 8% in a beer once and it pushed it too far.  I have some lagers coming up soon with WLP940 and there will be refreshing "Mexican Gold Lagers" in that group and I might play with some and see if I can just push the color a little bit.  When I first started getting ultra-pale worts with some LO steps I thought it was a step in the right direction but eventually I realized that even the wimpiest of gold lagers were not as pale as the ones I was making. 
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Online BrewBama

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Re: The color of some light beers...
« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2022, 02:46:20 pm »
May a a bit of Sinamar or roast grain.

Offline Village Taphouse

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Re: The color of some light beers...
« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2022, 03:00:07 pm »
May a a bit of Sinamar or roast grain.
Yeah, I wondered about that too.  Remember last year when I made an American Wheat? 



I ran it all off from MT to kettle and then grabbed some in a clear glass and checked the color.  It was very, very pale.  I had this "homemade sinamar" that I made from cold-steeping crushed midnight wheat and I just spilled a little bit into the kettle and got this color.  No flavor contribution that I can tell.  I could see doing this to slightly adjust color.  In the end, I know some of you are wondering why I would worry about such a thing and I get it.  Let the color of the beer be the color of the beer and be done.  What can I say... my mind goes to weird places.  :D
Ken from Chicago. 
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Re: The color of some light beers...
« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2022, 03:06:07 pm »
It's an interesting question. Wort pH and boil vigor can have an effect on wort darkening.  I also wouldn't be surprised if some crystal malt was used, especially in South American and Caribbean lagers that gave a touch of sweetness.

Offline beerphilmcd

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Re: The color of some light beers...
« Reply #13 on: February 28, 2022, 07:37:11 pm »
May a a bit of Sinamar or roast grain.
What can I say... my mind goes to weird places.  :D

Weird places indeed!

I’m guessing Denny was right all along in his suggestion of “light distortion”! More importantly you’re just guessing without side by side comparison.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: The color of some light beers...
« Reply #14 on: February 28, 2022, 09:07:03 pm »
May a a bit of Sinamar or roast grain.

This. Sinamar adds little flavor but a lot of color.

I've read that Miller uses a little roasted malt for color, probably at Vorlauf. Without that,it would be too pale in color.
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