Lower ABV brews

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RichK

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For reasons not relevant/important right now, I want/need to try a couple of brews with reduced ABV. My target being something I can claim to be "half strength", so about 3% max is the aim

So, I'll probably start with something simple such as a vaguely Banks Mild clone but still cut it down a bit. Up the mashing temperature a bit (68/69?), reduce the mashing time (previously I did 90 mins - 2 hours) to 30 mins followed by raising the temp before a quick sparge.

Grain will be primarily Maris Otter for simplicity. I may try cold steeping some adjuncts for flavour/colour but which work well like that?

Hops as per a Banks Mild recipe (they're not exactly exhuberant) so a little bit of fuggles & goldings where appropriate. I'm fine with that side. Drunk plenty of Banks Mild & bitter to know I like it.

Only yeast I've seen suggested for lower attenuation is SO4 (fine for this brew) but what alternatives for lower attenuation are there? I usually use Nottingham, is that "too good?"

Anything else I should consider trying?

Final result doesnt have to be Banks Mild clone (I can buy that at 89p a bottle) just something drinkable & not so heavy on the ABV.
 

peebee

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Low alcohol brewing to 3% ABV leaves you with plenty of open options to brew "real" beer (dipping to 0.5% ABV needs some more "imaginative thinking"). So no need to get stuck with "mild". Mild is only low alcohol because it was going out of favour at the time ABVs were being very squeezed, so (with a few exceptions) never recovered their former ABVs. Bitters were under the same squeeze but their popularity did see them recover a bit. So if you want something "brighter" than milds you can study "boys bitter", light ales and the like. Ron Pattinson has something to say about them http://barclayperkins.blogspot.com/2019/04/boys-bitter.html and puts out a book "Austerity" too. Like mild, "brown ales" got stuck with the low ABV stamp, so you should be able to find examples of them in the 3% bracket.

From my 0.5% brewing I can offer some suggestions: Don't think of 69C as the ceiling on mash temperature like you see published in many places. Alpha Amylase (responsible for mainly dextrin) will keep going through the 70s, and even Beta Amylase (mainly responsible for highly fermentable maltose) will keep going in the lower 70s, though at much reduced effectiveness (and not for long). Nottingham yeast is very attenuative; forget it. The least attenuative yeast I've come across is S-33: It seems completely unable to ferment dextrin (though it will a bit, just v-e-r-y slowly which you do need to watch out for if bottling). Hopping needs to be done carefully to avoid over hopping. Using the OG/IBU ratio is a good start, as OG falls away, IBUs must fall away pretty quick too or you end up trying to drink undrinkably bitter beer.

(EDIT: Oops, thanks to @terrym linking a thread with some of my rambling in it I see that here I got my bitterness ratio the wrong way round. Corrected!)
 
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the baron

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I wherever possible make my standard bitters to 3.5% ABV and they are nice and tasty enough. I think a lot of drinks can be made lower in alcohol than some brewers do them but then I am a session drinker and would rather have 6/7 pints than 2/3 stronger beers. My IPA's are usually 4% and just as nice as higher ABV beers
 

RichK

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So I finally did this. 1.6kg Pale, 100g Flaked, 100g Carapils mashed at 70C but it got extended from a planned 30mins to 90! Pre boil vol of 20L then 20, 15 & 15 of Liberty at 30, 10 & 0 mins. CML real ale yeast (had to hand) SG 1032 netting about 16L @ 2.6%. But the important question? Is it drinkable? Yes, it's not bad though you can tell it's a bit weaker but that was the aim. Will I do it again? Yes, definitely. I might try a bit more grain (or couple of litres less water) & maybe another degree or two warmer next time as I can still edge towards 3% a tad.
 

dwhite60

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Most of my brewing has been in the 6%+ abv range.

This year I'm working on four to five percent. Low temp mashes with two-row pale malt, , crystal, cara-vienne, maybe a touch of light Munich. Easy to get good flavor if you try.

All the Best,
D. White
 

peebee

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This year I'm working on four to five percent. ...
4-5%? I don't think you are complying with the spirit of this thread's title! Grit your teeth and pull the plug on your current expectations ... try about 2-3% and then perhaps you can write "easy to get good flavour if you try".

In the UK 4.5% ABV is pretty strong Pub beer.
 

MickDundee

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I prefer “session” beers and generally I brew in the 4.2-5.5% range.

I’ve never gone below 4%, but have had 2 forays into the 6.5%+ territory - a disastrous Belgian Dubbel (which is finally drinkable after 2 and a half years) and a rather wonderful (although slightly under hopped) citra saison.

I will be making sub 4% beers in the coming weeks - a fruit Berlinerweisse which I plan to have at about 3.5% after the fruit addition in secondary, and a Czech style session lager at 3.8% (Czech pale lager in BJCP guidelines is 3-4.1%).
 
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Northern_Brewer

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You might want to use some of the tricks discussed in this thread over on the BrewUK forum which led to a competition-winning hoppy pale OG 1.036, FG 1.019.

S-33 is essentially the same as Windsor or Muntons - another close relative is T-58 which is a bit more interesting, it's slightly phenolic so contributes some pepperiness which might work well in dark beers. They tend to drop well but not flocculate so you need to watch that if you're kegging.

And if you want to go really low, there's some novel yeasts being pushed for <1% brewing, such as Lallemand LA-01 (Saccharomyces cerevisiae var. chevalieri ), WhiteLabs WLP603 Torulaspora delbrueckii and WLP618 Saccharomycodes ludwigii.
 

RichK

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Until now, most of mine has been around 6%. However, I need to reduce that somewhat, to something more like "half strength beer"... anyhow, I like tangents :) Friday tomorrow, so I can have another couple & see what difference a week makes.
 
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