Author Topic: Watering down beer  (Read 1789 times)

Offline tubercle

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1639
  • Sweet Caroline
    • View Profile
Re: Watering down beer
« Reply #15 on: April 09, 2011, 04:54:34 PM »
Tubercle wishes he had this problem :P

 A pound bag of sugar is always handy. ;D
Sweet Caroline where the Sun rises over the deep blue sea and sets somewhere beyond Tennessee

Offline jamminbrew

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 800
  • theAntipunk
    • View Profile
Re: Watering down beer
« Reply #16 on: April 09, 2011, 05:58:55 PM »
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.
I do get excited when my beer is stronger than expected too.  Most of the beers I drink are big beers anyway.  I drink'em slow, so getting too drunk is usually not an issue... usually! ;D
Member, AHA
Member, Brew Brothers of Pikes Peak
BJCP judge# D1248
In caelo cerivisiae nil, hic igitur bibimus.

Online a10t2

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 3165
  • Ask me why I don't like Chico!
    • View Profile
    • SeanTerrill.com
Re: Watering down beer
« Reply #17 on: April 09, 2011, 07:53:06 PM »
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.

I've been on a similar quest recently. I think the key is to keep the sparge runnings high in gravity (or do a no-sparge mash), mash for moderate-to-low attenuation, and use a yeast that will contribute a lot of esters. I have a split batch of 3.6% ABV blondes on tap right now (one with English yeast, the other Belgian) and it's great. My 7.5% IPA feels thinner.
Beer is like porn. You can buy it, but it's more fun to make your own.
http://seanterrill.com/category/brewing/

Offline punatic

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 4582
  • Puna District, Hawaii Island (UTC -10)
    • View Profile
Re: Watering down beer
« Reply #18 on: April 09, 2011, 08:40:06 PM »
When I worked at the power plant part of my area of responsibilty was analysing and controling cooling tower chemistry.  We bought our circulating water scale inhibitor from Nalco.  Part of the contract was a Nalco rep would come to the plant once a week to do a circ. water analysis and write his recommendations.  (I always though this was amusing because I ran a more comprehensive circ. water analysis twice a day).

Anyway, this rep and I became good friends.  When he found out I was a homebrewer he was excited.  Part of his service area also included the AB and Schlitz breweries in Tampa.  He told me that both breweries brewed strong beer and then "de-brewed" the beer with the addition of carbonated water just prior to bottling or kegging.  AND the only difference between their standard beers and their light (lite) beers was the amount of water added during the de-brewing step.

He told me the tasters at the breweries spent a lot more time insuring that the carbonated water tasted right then they did on making sure the beer tasted right.  He said they were supremely confident in their brewing skills and beer.  It was the carbonated water that was the most variable.

He also said that they let him try the beer from the pigtail valve on the bright tanks - the strong beer before de-brewing.  He said it was very good beer; much better than what they sold.  He wanted to know if I could brew something like that.  He really liked my pre-pro pils (thank you George Fix).

So, a little while later (summer 1994) I got the chance to take a tour of the Coors plant in Golden.  We were served some of the strong beer from the pigtail on that tour.  Who knew Coors could brew beer like that?  Veeeerrrry tasty!
« Last Edit: April 09, 2011, 09:50:26 PM by punatic »
There is only one success: to be able to spend your life in your own way.


AHA Life Member #33907

Offline gmac

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2025
  • London, Ontario
    • View Profile
Re: Watering down beer
« Reply #19 on: April 09, 2011, 09:16:26 PM »
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.

I've been on a similar quest recently. I think the key is to keep the sparge runnings high in gravity (or do a no-sparge mash), mash for moderate-to-low attenuation, and use a yeast that will contribute a lot of esters. I have a split batch of 3.6% ABV blondes on tap right now (one with English yeast, the other Belgian) and it's great. My 7.5% IPA feels thinner.
Here's what I was thinking.
4 lbs MO, 1/2 to 3/4 lb C40, 1 to 2 oz of Black Patent Malt added at the end of the mash.
Keep the mash temp high (156 - 158) and mash in with 25 quarts of water which should give me about 20-21 quarts pre-boil.  Do a small sparge to get another 6-8 quarts (or just do 32 quarts at the start).  I like to have about 28 quarts pre-boil and I usually finish around 20 with a bit left in the hop pellets etc at the bottom of the brew kettle.

1 oz Northern Brewer 7.8% at 60
1/2 oz East Kent Goldings at 15
1/2 oz East Kent Golding at flameout.

What I'm wondering though, would it be worthwhile to add some thing like rolled oats to the grain bill?  I'm thinking Oatmeal Stout and the body that the ones I've had seem to have.  My fear is that if I back off the grain bill so much for 5 gals, it's gonna get pretty thin.  
My yeast is going to be Wyeast London III because that's what I'll have washed and ready for a starter next.  
This may be better in another thread.  I'm hijacking my own thread here...
« Last Edit: April 09, 2011, 09:20:10 PM by gmac »

Offline malzig

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 466
    • View Profile
Re: Watering down beer
« Reply #20 on: April 10, 2011, 08:21:28 AM »
Oats can be good source of body in a small beer, as can Torrified Oats.  I've found that a pound will add body and allow you to dry the beer out a little more, without making it sweet, which increasing the Crystal Malt can do.  The British brewers that I've talked to have generally used Crystal malts in the 2.5-5% range, when they use them at all.

Other character malts, like Amber Malt and Mild Malt, can add complexity that will help make the beer seem bigger.

On small beers, be careful about extra sparge water.  Tannic qualities in the wort will quickly show up as astringency, which can make the beer seem watery.

Historically, British beers tend to have hops at the equivalent of 60', 30' and near flameout, or some combination of the two.  However, they are usually allowed to steep on the flameout hops for a while, which makes for much more flavor than you would usually get from late hops with the usual homebrewer's rapid chilling techniques.
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.
I've been on a similar quest recently. I think the key is to keep the sparge runnings high in gravity (or do a no-sparge mash), mash for moderate-to-low attenuation, and use a yeast that will contribute a lot of esters.
I've been lucky to be in a position to get a lot of very fresh British beers.  I've had 100-200 over the last 5 years, and another 20 that I had never had before, just last week.

I have a real fondness for 3.2-4.2% Bitters.  A lot of them are very light and refreshing beers, which I've learned to appreciate.  Still, it amazes me that many of them have quite a bit of body, but have very little to no Crystal Malt and are mashed at 150°F.  There are occasional sweet ones, but most of them are as dry, or probably drier, than most US beers, but with a softer malt character.   Another trick is to keep the carbonation low, since carbonating a low gravity beer too highly can really cut the body and turn it into soda pop.

While some have subdued esters, the yeast is a big part of the best of them.   A strong ester character does a lot to make a beer seem bigger.  I taste WLP002 character in some of them, but a lot use much more characterful yeasts.  

My experience has been that it's not too difficult to get a very tasty beer down to about 3.5% with a little creativity and attention to detail.  It might require more recipe development to get something you like below that.

Offline liquidbrewing

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 283
  • OG - FG x 131= ABV%
    • View Profile
Re: Watering down beer
« Reply #21 on: April 14, 2011, 11:09:42 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.

Great Brew Strong show that addresses this issue.  It's the High Gravity 4 show http://www.thebrewingnetwork.com/shows/667.  I understand why he's doing it.  He simply doesn't have enough time right now to brew 20 gallons of a 4% beer.  He does have time to brew 10 gallons of an 8% beer.  His dilution process sounds spot on.  However, I personally don't agree with diluting beer, no offense Tasty!  All the guys on Brew Strong definitely know their stuff.
Justin
Liquid Brewing, Co.
"Find Your Own Level"