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Low abv

I’ve never brewed anything under 4.5%…just wondering about peoples experiences with low abv beers: breakfast stouts, pales,cream ales, light saisons, etc. Can you have decent body and keep the alcohol low? What works,what doesn’t? Don’t get me wrong RIS and DIPA are two of my favorite styles, but I want to be able to enjoy more than a couple and still be productive…had 3 pints of Hopslam the other day with a buddy and was wishing I could have more…

I have never equated “body” with alcohol content.


Well, yeah I suppose that’s true with a lot of Belgians and sours…but it seems like most low abv beers would be quite ‘watery’… what some may call ‘thin’.

Mash high and use a decent amount of crystal malt. Rye will also add body and mouthfeel to your beer, I particularly like it in saisons.

I see breakfast stouts in your list. I brewed one recently and it ended up at 12.1% FG 1.040

HA! sounds more like a dessert stout, I was thinking like 1.035OG
Thanks Lynux, that’s what I was looking for…makes sense, my last few IPAs I’ve mashed around 148, and I got low 80’s attenuation

You can mimic that Big Beer character in a session strength beer. Like other posts mention, you can use malts high in unfermentables ie.crystal, carapils, caraamber etc. and you can use higher mash temps to produce dextrins in any malt or grist. This results in a beer with a higher apparent extract or final gravity (residual sugar, mouthfeel etc.) and lower alcohol.

Another way to add big beer character is to use a higher fermentation temperature and follow with a diacetyl rest to clean it up. The more phenolic strains work better. The higher fermentation temp will produce more fusel alcohols and these lend a hotness to the flavor profile, when used appropriately can simulate the warmness of a higher alcohol beer.

It’s a process of discovery…but you cant push a yeast too far without getting some nastiness…
In 1997 I brewed a Wit using 1056 because our QA/QC didn’t allow any other yeast in the brewery…fermented at 78F it produced some spicy esters and tropical fruit and had a slight phenolic character not unlike a Belgian strain. It cleaned up nicely after a 50F conditioning period of 7 days. Obviously that yeast went from the bottom of the cone to the floor drain afterward…but the point is that this craft is awesome that way…there are more variable that just the what grain and what hops and what yeast.

Have fun.

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