PeeBee's Brewday - Low Alcohol Beer II

Help Support The HomeBrew Forum:

peebee

Out of Control
Joined
Aug 15, 2013
Messages
2,265
Reaction score
1,078
Location
North Wales
My original thread (https://www.thehomebrewforum.co.uk/threads/peebees-brewday-low-alcohol-beer) has got a bit large and unwieldy, so I'm kicking off a new thread (Part II) for this latest sortie into "low-alcohol beers" (less than 1% ABV, although I was guilty of creeping up to 1.4% in my previous thread).This is brewed low-alcohol beer thread and a "boil my finished beer" free zone!

So, a quick summary of where I was at (crikey, it's a year or more since I last brewed one, but I've finally got bored of fruit juice "spritzers" and ginger cordial on my alcohol abstention days): The beers are mashed at higher than "normal" temperatures (around 74°C) and fermented with yeast that ain't keen on dextrin (such as malto-triose): S-33 being my preferred yeast although I'm told "Windsor" yeast is very similar. I've played with cold extraction methods and ferment (and dry hop) directly in the dispensing keg to avoid un-necessary handling of the vulnerable green beer. I say "vulnerable" because such beers are not as hostile to spoilage organisms as normal beers, and the light flavours will not mask even the tiniest hint of "infection".

Firstly I need to get my kit together. I use a "Grainfather" brewing system, but any system will do including the lowly "BIAB" method. I say "lowly" but use my GF to emulate a BIAB session with full-boil-volume-mashes as a no-sparge technique (for a mash of only 2-3kg of grain, what is the point of sparging). Over the past year I've been shown I'm still using the GF in an overly-complicated way, so first change is get rid of the "top-plate" on the malt-pipe, and get rid of the over-flow pipe too. Neither items serve a useful purpose, although I was to learn the hard way that precautions are necessary when no over-flow pipe. The incredibly annoying "seal" on the perforated bottom plate is wired on with annealed stainless steel wire (got it on eBay).
20201026_190926WEB.jpg

The hole for the over-flow pipe is plugged with 1/2" BSP plastic plug (use stainless steel if you want).

I'll follow up this post with a recipe shortly...
 

peebee

Out of Control
Joined
Aug 15, 2013
Messages
2,265
Reaction score
1,078
Location
North Wales
A recipe: I use Beersmith so the image is of the "worksheet" it creates (first page, click image to open full size PDF). It will use cold extraction to allow much higher amounts of base malt than even high temperature mashing allows (while keeping fermentables down).
AfonCeidiog-page-001.jpg
A few changes since I last put out these recipes: A lightly mineralised water profile is used ("Yellow Full" as per Bru'n Water and a touch of sulphite to remove chlorine). The main change here is switching to a 33% CaCl2 solution, used in cheese-making, which is a lot more reliable than using hydroscopic solid CaCl2. Many water calculators support liquid CaCl2 solutions.

The mash is where I've been "experimenting" most. I'm cold extracting the base malt which has already given me good results, allowing increased quantities of base malt to gain extra flavour and colour while keeping fermentables down. I've chosen to use Pale Malt rather than higher roasted malts (like Munich Malt) for this reason. But there are still limits, because even without mashing malt contains simple sugars that will dissolve in the cold water. And too much grain will extract too much protein and bring with it the real danger of burning out the element.

The remaining grain will be hot mashed at 74°C (I was going to try 75 or 76°C but forgot!) along with the cold extract (it contains an emulsion of starch which must be converted to prevent a very cloudy beer). Caramalt is replaced with Cara Red and Cara Gold malts to use them up and Oat Malt in place of Wheat Malt to use it up. The oats was ground to 20 thou (20/1000th of an inch) rather than 30 because the grains are so thin (not without consequences as will be seen).

I introduced some "fixes" to make up for not operating as expected by Beersmith. Beersmith does not expect "cold extraction" (what would?). So from my notes in BS:
Cold extraction: Potential Extract of grain estimated as at 1/3 normal, changed to type "Extract" and then reduced by 25% to compensate for efficiency reductions. Extract must be mashed to convert any starch. Calculate grain absorption and add to "Mash Tun Losses" to compensate for "cold mash" grain absorption not otherwise calculated.
And for "hot mash"; oddly BS doesn't predict dextrin/maltose proportions after 71°C but keeps giving the figures for 71°C even at 74°C, and even at impossibly high temperatures like 85°C. To deal with this "feature" (okay, it's a bug!) I cut the "potential extract" of the grains to 1/3rd then create a sham entry ("**fix** ...") that presents the amount excluded from the hot mash grains (i.e. 2/3rd)as unfermentable extract. :eek: All so the Beersmith recipe builder displays slightly sane predictions of what I'm doing (instead of floundering in the dark).

Hopefully someone will find that description useful. Hopefully anybody who tried to understand it has not had their brains reduced to a pulp! Next up: The actual Brewday.
 

Attachments

Last edited:

peebee

Out of Control
Joined
Aug 15, 2013
Messages
2,265
Reaction score
1,078
Location
North Wales
The day before Brewday ...

Start the "cold extraction". I chose a simpler "steeping" method for the cold extraction this time. The crushed pale malt has been cooled to 6-7°C along with 4L of the treated water (about 2.9L per kilo of grain). These were mixed together in a bucket:
20201026_193809_WEB.jpg

Lid fixed and the bucket placed in the "keezer" to overnight (12 hours) at 6-7°C. pH was 5.5 (I was just being curious).

Next day the remaining treated water was heated to strike temperature (hardly necessary for 1.5kg of grain) and the remaining grain stirred in.
20201027_085421_WEB.jpg

Note no overflow pipe! The volume is low for a full-boil-volume-mash, but this is an 18L batch, will only be subject to a 30 minute boil and the GF is quite voluminous (about 35-38L to the rim).

A colander is place on top and the cold mash poured in:
20201027_085834_WEB.jpg

The temperature drops to 70°C which was a bigger fall than expected. Lid on, circulation on, heat on. But it takes 15 minutes to get the temperature back up to 74°C. pH is 5.6.

TBC
 

peebee

Out of Control
Joined
Aug 15, 2013
Messages
2,265
Reaction score
1,078
Location
North Wales
Three days passes and I've not done my "TBC"!

It's only a 30 minute mash and half of that has been trying to get the temperature back up. This might have implications?
20201027_090657_WEB.jpg

The hot mash proceeds, but not smoothly. The lack of overflow pipe and the finely milled oat malt combines to give … stuck mash! Not completely stuck, but I could hear the element struggling. Fortunately the element does a good job of protecting itself and repeatedly cuts out. When I notice it (most of the mash liquid ends up on top of the grainbed) a good stir restores circulation and it doesn't occur again.

The malt tube is raised and allowed to drain.
20201027_095508_WEB.jpg

There's a thick layer of protein break over the grain. Hopefully not so thick it foretells the previous problems of endangering the heating element?
20201027_123705_WEB.jpg

1/2 hour boil with 5g of hops (not all "whirlpool" hops this time). The beer, still in the boiler, is allowed to cool to 85°C before adding steep hops and allowing to soak for 30 minutes. Most of the bittering results from this. Cooling is resumed and when below 20°C channelled into the keg. Note "Wortometer", which is very useful for monitoring the cooling.

The boiler element was left clean with no signs of previous "grain omelette". Half pack of S-33 tossed on and the keg sealed. Regulator (being used as "spunding valve") fitted and set at 10PSI.
20201027_181901_WEB.jpg

Fermentation starts in just short of 24 hours (easy to see, because the pressure increases to the point when the regulator starts "relieving", or in this situation call it "spunding"!).
20201030_010216_WEB.jpg

No idea when fermentation ends. but it probably only takes a few hours! On Day 5 the keg goes into the "keezer" at 6-8°C.

At the risk of being tedious … TBC!
 

peebee

Out of Control
Joined
Aug 15, 2013
Messages
2,265
Reaction score
1,078
Location
North Wales
Whoops. I'm getting responses to my last post here which are perhaps reminders that I finished it up with "TBC". And I haven't done so.

I better finish what I started! I'm still getting through the "beer" in question, so I'm still current with details about it.
 

peebee

Out of Control
Joined
Aug 15, 2013
Messages
2,265
Reaction score
1,078
Location
North Wales
The day after putting the keg in the "keezer" the lid was removed and a dry hop cage (with 35g dry hop pellets) submerged in the beer. The airspace was purged with CO2 and the keg pressured to 12 PSI.

On Day 12 pressure was released, the lid was removed and the hop cage removed. 7ml of NBS Brausol Special veggy primings were sprinkled on the surface and the lid secured. The opaque look of the beer suggested the finings had there work cut out. The gravity (FG) was checked and had fallen to 1.007. The airspace was purged with CO2 again and the keg pressured to 12 PSI.

The low FG wasn't expected. and suggested a ABV of 2%, or 4x stronger than intended. This might suggest the initial "cool" hot mash temperature might of had more adverse consequences than first imagined?

A few days later the keg was broached and the somewhat dubious (2% ABV 😲 ) "abstention day" beer sampled.

 

peebee

Out of Control
Joined
Aug 15, 2013
Messages
2,265
Reaction score
1,078
Location
North Wales
The result is perhaps my most successful attempt at a low-alcohol beer? (Wait for it ... I'm about to shoot this observation to bits in a while). The flavours are light, but the malt flavours are good, and body and mouthfeel is surprisingly good (a FG of 1.007 hadn't raised expectations in me). I suspect the use of dominantly pale malt grain-bill instead of exotics like Munich malt provided a flavour that was more familiar? The hop flavour was also good, which I'm putting down to the Wai-ite hops. That said there was a very distant hint of corrugated cardboard; the same flavour that had been so prominent in a previous attempt which was grossly over-hopped with Wai-ite. Maybe I get bad examples, they are certainly older than I would normally use. The hops provided a distinct citrus flavour, not lemon, certainly not orange, but it would require a good imagination to think "lime" as in some of the commercial descriptions.

So what had I got right that made this beer so good? That's easy ...

2% ABV! For a "low-alcohol beer" that is positively head-banging!

There is one other little problem. It's clear ... clear as ...

20201116_212914_WEB.jpg

... mud!

Good head though. I think the problem here was the overnight "passive" cold steep instead of the very much shorter recirculated cold steep used previously. Overall, as a beer attaining its desired aims, this one is ...

👎

Hints of better things perhaps? I'm going to have to repeat this attempt. Switch back to a recirculated cold steep. And be more careful preparing the hot mash (I'm blaming the more fermentable wort on the "mistake" that started the hot mash off at 70C, followed by a long delay getting the mash to expected temperature of 74C). I'll also attempt to mash at 75-76C next time.
 

thorners

New Member
Joined
Mar 16, 2020
Messages
6
Reaction score
1
Thought I’d also provide an update on my latest attempt to brew a sub 0.5% beer. My previous attempt involved mashing a small amount of grain at over 70 degrees, and while I had high hopes the beer got infected with DMS and it thoroughly pee-ed me off.

Anyway, a few months later and I’m having another attempt, however this time like PeeBee I’m combining cold and hot mashes. I’ve decided to go for a 9L batch as want to get this one right for midweek drinking, and happen to have a 9L corny.

Started with 1.1kg Maris Otter that I steeped in 3L tap water, in a BIAB bag. I left this for 8 hours in my shed at around 12 degrees. Was this too hot? Time will tell.

Lifted the grain bag out and tipped the cold wort into a Tupperware box (looked like milk that that stage) and left in fridge overnight. The following morning the white gunk had separated at the bottom and I was able to add the clearer wort, along with 8L tap water (enhanced with Chloride), to my mash tun.

From here I mashed in the following grains and kept the mash between 73 and 75 degrees for half an hour:
100g Crystal
60g Munich
75g Brown
50g Vienna
30g Wheat
30g Chocolate
Total 345g

Went for 30 min boil, but this relatively low volume meant that my boil was pretty violent in my Burco Cygnet tea urn, with more boil off than expected.
Added 35g Centennial at flameout, and cooled the wort. No hop stand, as can’t be bothered with these.

Ended up with only 7L in fermenter, and an OG of 1.018. I decided at this stage to add 1L tap water to the fermenter, increasing volume and lowering OG to 1.016.

Pitched half a pack of S-33, and after a day gravity had dropped and remained at 1.014, giving me an ABV of 0.43%, exactly what I wanted! Dry hopped with 20g Citra for 3 days, then transferred to my 9L Corny.

I will leave it to carb up and have a taste next Monday, and post back a pic and taste notes. Cheers!
 

peebee

Out of Control
Joined
Aug 15, 2013
Messages
2,265
Reaction score
1,078
Location
North Wales
Thought I’d also provide an update on my latest attempt to brew a sub 0.5% beer. …
It going wrong last time didn't put you off then. Good on you!

I wouldn't worry about 12C 'stead of 10 (mine went other way and was 7); I think keeping the temp low is only to limit the activity of microbes that will be swarming over the malt. Seems a good plan to let the "wort" rest and drop out most of the debris. It'll mainly be starch emulsion (guess) which probably resulted in my last brew being so strong (2% ABV!), and what didn't convert got "fixed" in the boil resulting in potato soup-like clarity. Might have to work that settling into my processes.

<EDIT: I'll be drinking my 2% "pretend" abstention day beer beer tonight. Mondays and Tuesdays are my "abstention days", although I'm only fooling myself thinking that 2% ABV is "low-alcohol". 4 months old and as good now as 3months ago, better even: I think this brewing in the keg is a good idea (no transfer risks) and no impact of having the beer sitting on the yeast so long either, well there is never a lot of yeast (I've been doing that for a few years now).>
 
Last edited:

Saisonator

Landlord.
Supporting Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2017
Messages
1,221
Reaction score
473
Location
Surrey
I suspect I may well end up fermenting and serving in the same keg.
Only thing that does concern me is two of my three kegs are the slim taller type and I am not completely confident the floating dip tube won't snag on itself.
I use the CO2 to purge the second keg so not much CO2 is used during closed transfer and little risk of infection or oxidation.
 

thorners

New Member
Joined
Mar 16, 2020
Messages
6
Reaction score
1
FG ended at 1.013, giving the beer an abv of 0.43%, and meeting the definition of non alcoholic.

Taste wise, I'm really pleased with this, much more body than I was expecting that must be a combination of the cold mash and the higher temp of the warm mash. Next time will increase amount of malt used in cold mash, and make a full (19L) volume brew.

I'll also play around with speciality grains for the warm mash, and expect it will depend on what I have in stock.

Only other change would be a bigger dry hop charge, I think that combined with the recipe posted above would give a decent non alcoholic American Brown ale 😁

Here's a pic:

20210309_172656.jpg


I was actually looking forward to this beer this evening, a nice aperitif before our virtual homebrew meetup later tonight, where boozy beers will be in full swing.
 

Latest posts

Top