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FedoraDave

Alcohol chasers PLEASE READ

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From time to time a new thread is started here or in Basic Brewing Techniques asking how to add more ABV to the Mr. Beer recipes. It's come up so often, I thought I'd start a thread to address this issue specifically.

Yes, beer is an alcoholic drink.

Yes, by making your own, you can determine how much alcohol by volume is in your beer.

Alcohol is produced by yeast consuming fermentable sugar and converting it to alcohol. Therefore, the ABV can be raised by adding more fermentable sugar before adding the yeast.

It's not that simple, though.

What makes beer beer is the fact that not all of the grain malt is converted to sugar. There are unfermentables in there, as well, and they contribute to the flavor of a Red Ale, or an Oktoberfest or a Pilsner. Pure sugar, or ingredients high in fermentable sugar, throw the balance of the flavor off, by not contributing any flavor or body the same way malted grain does. So dumping corn syrup or a bunch of table sugar in your wort increases the ABV, but decreases the flavor and body, resulting in a thin, cidery beer.

A better way to get more alcohol from your beer recipe is to add more malt. You can use another Mr. Beer extract, or a Liquid Malt Extract, or a Dry Malt Extract. These will add more fermentable sugar and more flavor, so you won't be sacrificing body for the sake of the alcohol.

Ah, but it's more complicated than just dumping more malt in. There is such a thing as the hops profile to take into account. If you add more malt, you might get a sweeter, less bitter beer. The Mr. Beer HMEs are designed to have a specific flavor profile, so that when you brew a High Country Canadian Draft, it's going to have a specific flavor. Adding more malt decreases the influence of the hops in that extract, changing the flavor profile. More hops can be added, of course, but which ones, and how much?

Do you see how complicated this is becoming?

I'm not trying to discourage new brewers from experimenting and developing their own recipes.

I'm just pointing out that crafting your own brews is not as simple as it seems on the face of it. There are only four ingredients in beer: water, yeast, malt, and hops. When you've only got four ingredients, you'd better make sure you know what you're working with, because nothing is going to cover up an imbalance or compensate for a deficiency.

This is why we "veteran" Borg members say pursue taste, rather than alcohol content. This is why I, specifically, say get to know the Mr. Beer ingredients and recipes on their own, before going off the reservation and experimenting with adjuncts and with mixing cans of extract together. Know what you're experimenting with, and your experiment will yield better results.

Making alcohol is relatively easy, but may be disappointing.

Making good beer is more challenging and rewarding.

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+1 If you want the alcohol you'l just have to drink more great tasting beer!

:gulp:

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Sticky! Every new brewer should read this. My brewing experience is a far cry from most on the borg, but my tasting experience is vast and storied :stout: Here are a couple of things I look at when developing new recipes in order to get an idea of the hop to malt ratio.

Beer Balance Calculators

Gravity / Hops Ratio Chart

Screwy Brewer - Brewing Tools & Formulas

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+1 for a sticky.
You make your points in an easy to understand post that is backed with facts.
Thanks for the info.

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jaydub...thanks for the links, the balance calculator will come in handy.

Typically, I try to stay within style according to qBrew. As long as my IBUs, color and OG stay within the guidelines for the style, I feel pretty good about my recipe. Any new brewer that doesn't use a program like qBrew when putting together their recipe is just asking for trouble in my opinion. It takes almost all of the guesswork out of whether or not your beer is going to come out the way you want it to.

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Guest System Admin

+100000%

The Hat is Wise!

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If you mash, and don't know already, a batch that is mashed at say 148-152 deg, will attentuate for more alc and dryer beer than a batch that is mashed at say 155-158 deg (will go to lower FG, even with the same OG). Just another thing to consider.

My AG's are simple process, and run 5.5-6.0 abv about, and it is more alc than I need. I drink a lot of beer, and the 7%ers and up will just get me out in the recliner early .....
I almost never use any adjuncts any more, but ...

The MrB refills, you're lucky if you hit 4% ... which is why I consider adding a pack of booster or a lb of dme to the two cans of malt, which will get me 4.5% or so.

I don't like high abv, but I don't like near beer, either. 5% hits the spot, which I guess is why Bud, and most beers are around there ... it just makes sense.

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"FedoraDave" post=250208 said:

This is why we "veteran" Borg members say pursue taste, rather than alcohol content.

This is THEE line.

The fact of the matter is that there are so many ingredients...and in turn...so many more combination of ingredients which can make beer...the bottom line is to pursue taste first.

Read, learn, do some research. Just because you want a storng black beer doesn't mean that 4 Lbs of Black Roasted Barley is going to work....ever. Toasted bread is a wonderful aroma...but 5 Lbs of Biscuit malt in a 2.3 gallon batch maybe isn't exactly what you wanna go with. Just because you have 3 cans of HME doesn't mean all 3 will work well together.

Pursue taste first.

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