Author Topic: Watering down beer  (Read 1785 times)

Offline gmac

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Watering down beer
« on: April 07, 2011, 06:39:36 PM »
This question will likely seem like sacrilege to many of you but I'm wondering what your thoughts are on adding water to beer after the initial fermentation has slowed.  I don't really want an above normal alcohol content in my beer (normal being about 5%) and I'm looking for a session style beer that I can drink with friends for an evening and not get too loaded or too hung-over the next day. 

My last 3 brews have higher than expected extraction so my beer is a bit higher alcohol potential than I'd like.  Also, I overfilled my carboy today so I am expecting to lose a good amount through the blow off tube.  Can I just top it up with boiled and cooled water after the initial krausen surge is over?  Will this make it too watery?  I am sure that if I had more room to ferment, adding water prior would have been preferred but all I have available is one 5 US gal carboy. 

I used 9 lbs MO, 1 lb of Crystal 40  and ended up with 1.062 OG instead of the 1.058 I got last time.  I really wanted something in the 1.050 - 1.054 range so next time I'm taking the crystal and MO each down 1/4 lb.

Anyway, should I leave well enough alone or should I water it down a bit?
Thanks

Offline tygo

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Re: Watering down beer
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2011, 06:41:48 PM »
I've never done it but this is the way the macro-breweries do it if I'm not mistaken.  If I were going to do it I'd wait until bottling or kegging and add the extra water then. 
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Offline a10t2

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Re: Watering down beer
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2011, 06:50:13 PM »
I know Mike McDole is a big fan of this technique. He'll have a ~8% ABV beer on tap, along with a keg of carbonated water, and dilute to whatever strength he wants.
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Watering down beer
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2011, 06:55:22 PM »
Whether it comes across as too watery depends on the beer, you could certainly give it a try.  I think it's better to do it at packaging so you can taste it and see how much you'd like to add.
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Offline bluesman

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Re: Watering down beer
« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2011, 07:03:52 PM »
I know Mike McDole is a big fan of this technique. He'll have a ~8% ABV beer on tap, along with a keg of carbonated water, and dilute to whatever strength he wants.

Mike (Tasty) McDole is a seasoned veteran homebrewer, so if he does it ...it's probably a viable method.
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Offline jeffy

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Re: Watering down beer
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2011, 04:52:38 AM »
I know Mike McDole is a big fan of this technique. He'll have a ~8% ABV beer on tap, along with a keg of carbonated water, and dilute to whatever strength he wants.

Mike (Tasty) McDole is a seasoned veteran homebrewer, so if he does it ...it's probably a viable method.
I have talked to other award-winning brewers who do the same thing.  It's easy to get three substyles out of one keg for Scottish Ales, English Pale Ales and some Light Lagers.  I think they boil the water, then keg and carbonate it for blending.
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Offline Mark G

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Re: Watering down beer
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2011, 04:56:04 AM »
I know Mike McDole is a big fan of this technique. He'll have a ~8% ABV beer on tap, along with a keg of carbonated water, and dilute to whatever strength he wants.

Mike (Tasty) McDole is a seasoned veteran homebrewer, so if he does it ...it's probably a viable method.
I have talked to other award-winning brewers who do the same thing.  It's easy to get three substyles out of one keg for Scottish Ales, English Pale Ales and some Light Lagers.  I think they boil the water, then keg and carbonate it for blending.
I think the key is to boil the water to de-oxgenate it, then keg and carbonate it to keep any additional oxygen from dissolving back in.
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Offline bluesman

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Re: Watering down beer
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2011, 05:29:45 AM »
I know Mike McDole is a big fan of this technique. He'll have a ~8% ABV beer on tap, along with a keg of carbonated water, and dilute to whatever strength he wants.

Mike (Tasty) McDole is a seasoned veteran homebrewer, so if he does it ...it's probably a viable method.
I have talked to other award-winning brewers who do the same thing.  It's easy to get three substyles out of one keg for Scottish Ales, English Pale Ales and some Light Lagers.  I think they boil the water, then keg and carbonate it for blending.
I think the key is to boil the water to de-oxgenate it, then keg and carbonate it to keep any additional oxygen from dissolving back in.

Yes^^^^^this is the logical method.

The other option is to carbonate the water to tie up the O2.
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Offline hokerer

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Re: Watering down beer
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2011, 08:02:23 AM »
Or, to avoid the wateryness, another option would be to brew another batch that's below your target and then blend to two to get it where you want.
Joe

Offline gmac

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Re: Watering down beer
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2011, 09:00:35 AM »
Or, to avoid the wateryness, another option would be to brew another batch that's below your target and then blend to two to get it where you want.
Probably the best idea but I don't have anymore free carboys.  I suppose this could stay in the primary some extra time and I could try to figure out a way to keep it until the next batch is done.

Offline maxieboy

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Re: Watering down beer
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2011, 09:34:56 AM »
Is it just me or is anyone else pleased there's a tad bit more alcohol than you planned in a beer?  ;D  I've never considered watering down(with the resultant time commitment), just worked harder to hit my numbers.
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Offline gmac

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Re: Watering down beer
« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2011, 09:43:55 AM »
Is it just me or is anyone else pleased there's a tad bit more alcohol than you planned in a beer?  ;D  I've never considered watering down(with the resultant time commitment), just worked harder to hit my numbers.
Hey, I'm not upset that my efficiency is getting better (this is only my 4th all grain) but I am weak.  See, when my friends come over and we have a beer, it usually turns into a few which turns into many.  Then, I get up with a nasty headache the next day.  See, if I had any sort of self-control or restraint when it came to beer, I'd be fine but it's just so darn tasty that I can't help myself. 

I'll probably end up leaving well enough alone but if this does blow out a bunch of krausen, I may try to top it up at bottling.  Right now the yeast seems pretty lazy compared to an ale so it may not even be an issue (Wyeast 2112 @ 60 degrees).

For me, the best plan would be to try to find a 3.5% mild recipe or something.  If I could make a full bodied, good tasting 3.5% beer, that's really all I want.  If I ever made a barley wine, you'd be scraping me up off the carpet.

Offline maxieboy

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Re: Watering down beer
« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2011, 09:50:30 AM »
As in: who carpeted the wall?  :D  I hear ya on the low power beers, just not gonna subscribe to it. ;D Great hobby, huh?
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Offline bluesman

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Re: Watering down beer
« Reply #13 on: April 08, 2011, 09:56:49 AM »
For me, the best plan would be to try to find a 3.5% mild recipe or something.  If I could make a full bodied, good tasting 3.5% beer, that's really all I want.  If I ever made a barley wine, you'd be scraping me up off the carpet.

I think a good Ordinary Bitter would fit your bill. 3.5%ABV and about 30IBU'S.

A really nice session beer for sure.
Ron Price

Offline IHBHS

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Re: Watering down beer
« Reply #14 on: April 09, 2011, 03:13:42 PM »
I would add water to your primary to get the gravity down so you wont produce as much alcohol.  BeerSmith's dilution tool is a great help for doing this.
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