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Zoot Horn Rollo

Harder To Make A Quality Low ABV Brew Than A High ABV Brew?

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     Wow, I just read a few articles about brewing and "Home Brew Culture" and had my head turned around a bit. I've recently been making a few recipes here and have noticed a disturbing trend in my choices. As I've become more familiar with the brewing process, I've been increasingly drawn to the higher ABV styles. Seems like this is a trend in the home/craft brewing communities. This little bit of self revelation has me wondering...Why? As I've stated in previous posts, my goal for this hobby is to experience the satisfaction of making really good beer at home and then sharing it with family and friends. I'm not really into drinking to get grossly intoxicated; been there done that. I like to think that I'm interested in the subtle ways that fermenting a few good ingredients coupled with conditioning over time will produce a complex beverage. As I progress in this hobby, I want to be able to brew beer that I would be proud to say is representative of my own tastes and talent. If I want to be dazed and confused after drinking 12 ounces of beer, I guess that I can always get one of my sons to hit me in the back of my head with a mallet.

 

    Still...just this morning I brewed up a batch of "That Voodoo" and found myself somewhat disappointed that my OG was only 1.060 as opposed to the stated 1.070 of the recipe. This got me thinking. Why the hell am I so worried about a percent or two of alcohol? In the end, if what I brew ends up looking and tasting great, shouldn't I consider it a success? I would think so. Then I thought about how I chose this recipe and....yep, I based my choice on it's ABV.

 

    So, I guess that what I've often read about on these boards is to be taken as a truism. Chase flavor as opposed to ABV. As I learn more about brewing beer, it seems to me that anyone can take a load of yeast and sugars and create some thing that will get you drunk. Hell, I've made bilge wine on the submarines that I was stationed on out of canned fruit juice, sugar, and baker's yeast. That's not what I want. After this batch, I'm going to concentrate on lighter and more delicate styles of beer. I'm going to see if I have what it takes to draw the best qualities out of recipes that can't be faked with big hoppy and malted HMEs. It looks like I'll be getting into partial grain brewing sooner than I expected.

 

    How do you guys feel about this? Do you look down your noses on lighter styles such as Pilsners or Session Beers? Does it matter to you if a beer is less than 4% alcohol by volume and does this affect your brewing choices? In fact, is it, as I suspect harder to produce a quality low alcohol style as opposed to the big heavy brews?

 

Best, Zoot

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"Chase flavor, not ABV".

 

That's my mantra.  I brew what I like.  I don't like Pilsners.  I don't drink to get drunk, so to me there is no such thing as a "session beer" vs. any other kind of beer.  I like malty beers, and that's what I brew.  Most end up in the mid to high 5s or low 6s.  I intentionally cut the ABV of two brews to the high 4s because SWMBO didn't like them higher.  

 

Rarely do I consume more than 3, often 1 or 2.  

 

Oh, partial grain has nothing to do with ABV.  You can brew a high ABV brew from 100% extract.  

 

On the Mr. Beer recipes, ABV is often overstated.  A can of the regular refills is 3.1%, which is why they now include booster (which I don't like).  So 2 cans is 6.2%.  

 

That Voodoo is a can of BAA which would be around 5.1, plus a pouch of LME which would be around 6.1.  A cup of brown sugar should then bring you well over 1.07 OG, close to 1.08, for a 2.13 gallon batch.  

 

Did you add too much water?  Or forget the brown sugar?  

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It dosent matter about abv it matters about taste. A lot of low abv brews taste just as good if not better than high abv brew.I personally don't care about abv its the flavor.

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Did you add too much water?  Or forget the brown sugar?  

   No, Rick I don't believe that I over watered the batch. I measured the brown sugar as a "dry ingredient" as opposed to a liquid cup. Maybe I just don't know how to read a hydrometer but, I seemed to read out at 1.060.  I could adjust for the ambient temp which in my neck of the woods is about 85 degrees Fahrenheit for a gravity of 1.062.

 

Best, Zoot

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I went through a high ABV phase, but generally now hit anywhere from 3.5% to 6% (occasionally 7 or 8%).  That's just the size of beer I prefer to drink in most cases to make them sessionable (if I so choose).  And it's the volume that works best with my equipment.  If I want to brew something 10 or more %, I run into problems with my BIAB mash size and have to use extract and do a partial mash.  That just complicates things, and (for me) I see no reason.  

 

To the question of whether it's harder to make a small beer...  I'd contend that it is in many ways.  It's easy to get a watered down tasting brew, and it's harder to get grain character.  And, especially in the case of Pilsners and the like, it's harder to hide mistakes.  Say what you will about Bud/Mil/Coors, but they make a mistake free, very clean beer in a style that that is very hard to accomplish.  Any temp problems, yeast problems, poor grain choices can't get covered up like they can in a bigger, heavier beer.  A couple challenges I've taken on over the years is to make a good lite lager and a good lite ale.  It's a fun experiment to be sure.

 

 

 

 In the end, if what I brew ends up looking and tasting great, shouldn't I consider it a success? I would think so.

 

Totally agree...

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Not into getting smashed and s&*t faced. I enjoy the taste of a good beer, and drink many styles. At times I might enjoy more than one, but rarely three. I share much of my stock with friends. And - I will drink a Bud, or Coors on occasion, they are always consistent. 

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I'm actually starting a quest to make the lowest ABV beers I can, while still having some malty flavor. I think a 3% beer would be ideal for me.

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my preference is big chewy beers... and occasionally a lighter pilsen though ive yet to do a lager myself.

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I used to enjoy higher ABV beers when I was a bit younger. That was back when I wanted more "bang for my buck". While I still enjoy some of those big imperial IPAs and barleywines every once in awhile, I find myself more drawn to quaffable session-style beers such as goses, traditional saisons, session IPAs, hoppy lagers, etc. I prefer the crisp refreshing taste of these lighter ABV beers, especially being in AZ during the summer. Once it cools off in the winter, I'll usually warm up to some of the higher ABV brews.

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My journey with Mr. Beer began as a quest to drink good low ABV beer.

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Not Me  urp- hic! MMMMMMMMMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. :lol:

 

For the Record:

 

I started with some experiments with High ABV batches, They seemed to taste ok but I am not a whisky drinker. So more ABV does not make good beer in my book.

 

My batches are close to spec and are getting better with less adjuncts and concentration on better brewing habbits. Just brewed a 5 gal batch split into 2 LBK,s Grand Cru. My LHB was almost giving it away.

 

Cheers

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