Lower ABV brews

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Jun 9, 2017
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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.


Out of Control
Aug 15, 2013
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North Wales
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

Oct 13, 2013
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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

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