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Making Near-Beer

I have a friend who quit drinking mostly, not sure why he’s not an alcoholic maybe a health thing. Anyway he asks me how to make a non-alcoholic beer because he does like the taste of craft beer. I looked into it and as I suspected most of them are reduced by distillation under reduced pressure to preserve flavor. I suppose I could hook up a venturi to a faucet and pull some vacuum on a pressure cooker, but does anyone have other ideas? Maybe make a small beer, then do freeze distillation first, then low pressure removal, then add back water?

Damn him anyway. I just know this is going to result in the destruction of some perfectly good beer.

Not sure if this helps at all, but I was just on Weyermann’s web site and noticed that a couple of their dextrine malts were used in the process to some degree.

Carapils - up to 30% in low alcohol beers

Carahell - up to 40%! in non-alcoholic or low alcohol beers.

Good tip, I was thinking of using a lot of specialty grains relative to base malt just to stat with the lowest ABV possible. They say near beer is under 0.5%ABV.

BierMuncher over at HomebrewTalk did an experiment with an Anchor Steam clone a few years ago. http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f13/creatin … eer-39433/

He said he didn’t think it was totally non-alcoholic, but pretty close. Seems like a better way to do it.

Do a web search - there was an article about this in BYO a while back. Basically, you’ll first make beer. Then heat it gently in the oven until the alcohol evaporates (I think around 180-185 degrees for half an hour). Then chill it back down and force carb. IIRC, they said it should get down to around .5%.

Sometimes I have an extra half-gallon or so when I keg, and I’ve thought about processing the remainder, then bottling it in 2L bottles and force carbing with an air chuck or carbonator cap.

Some have expressed concerns about losing hop character with the heat treatment, so you may have to monkey around with hop teas or dry-hopping if you’re shooting for something hoppy. Give it a shot, and see what you get.

:cheers:

First of all, I’d never actually try this, but if I did:

Heat will be required to get rid of the alcohol. So… I do fear the near-beer will taste “cooked” or somehow “off”. You would certainly want to use fining agents including gelatin and lager for a very long time indeed before applying heat to prevent any yeast from getting cooked and giving off a meaty flavor in the finished near-beer. Get that yeast out of there before applying any heat.

Wait for a very dry winter day when the relative humidity is only like 25%, so that the air is “thirsty” and evaporation is thus faster and easier. Then heat the fermented beer outdoors, but out of any sunlight! e.g., in your garage, to about 180 F for, yeah, like 30 minutes, and hope for the best.

Might need to adjust IBUs down in the beer to account for the second heating, unless diluting later in which case you might actually need to kick the IBUs upwards instead. Something to think about anyway.

Use more specialty malts all around. Then you can more safely dilute to help bring the alcohol down another notch after heating.

Also I like the idea of using a ton of Carapils. Yeah, go huge, like 40% or something. Then the beer won’t taste watered down, even though it is.

Yeah, I think that’s a key item… after removing the alcohol, add something like 30-40% preboiled (and thus deoxygenated and sanitized) water to bring the remaining alcohol even lower.

Finally, since you’ve removed all the yeast and also cooked it, you need to add a sprinkle of fresh yeast, prime and bottle. Or you could keg it I guess, but it might take some time to run through a lot of it.

I’d be real curious if anyone could get this to work and still taste decent. Not that I would ever do it, but hey, some poor sops out there will find it useful, and I do find it to be a very interesting experiment, conceptually anyway. So if anyone does try it, let us know how it turns out!

Interesting strategy to use heat to evaporate the alcohol. I can’t imagine this process will go smoothly without the fermented wort becoming oxidized. It sounds like a huge hassle.

I would remove the labels from St. Pauli Girl NA and tell him you made it especially for him. Then I would tell him it was a pain in the ass and never do it again,

Interesting insights. The thread on brewtalk is informative although there seems to be some confusion over how distillation of alcohol from an aqueous solution works. I have some knowledge about that so I think I can figure out where I’m at by measuring vapor temp. I’m also considering putting together a no-ferm version of beer, just some specialty grains, some oats for body, and hops in the boil. Might have to drop the pH into the post-ferm range of 4.5 using lactic acid.

Anyway I have plenty of beer to play with, I’ll report back as I delve into this a bit more.

If all fails, I’ll resort to your suggestion Mabus.

Ha!
Yeah, I don’t get NA beer. If it’s really a problem for you, DON’T DRINK IT. Even if it resembles the real thing. It’s like vegans eating fake meat, if you have such a problem with eating real meat, why would you eat fake meat, something that is to resemble something you dislike? I know there’s all kinds of reasons and me, being mostly vegetarian, I eat fake meat on occasion, but it’s not really my thing. I certainly wouldn’t drink NA beer…what’s the point if it’s not even going to taste as good as the real deal? It’s like sex with a blowup doll…(which I’ve never had, by the way, haha).

The very first time I brewed something was not quite working with my drill/mill setup (or I didn’t know what I was doing)

I did not get the grain crushed propperly but mashed it anyway without knowing what it should have been like.

My gravity came out to something like 1.02. It did ferment. I calculated about 1.5% alcohol or so. It bottle conditioned fine. had some grain flavor. Way overpowered by the hops though.

So if it was something I was actually trying to do, I migh crush a bunch of carahell/ carapils for flavor etc. and try adding in a bunch of undercrushed 2-row - see what happens.

Probably not the way to go, but it would be an interesting shot in the dark. Again…I have NO idea if this is a sound prospect.

[quote=“tom sawyer”]Interesting insights. The thread on brewtalk is informative although there seems to be some confusion over how distillation of alcohol from an aqueous solution works. I have some knowledge about that so I think I can figure out where I’m at by measuring vapor temp. I’m also considering putting together a no-ferm version of beer, just some specialty grains, some oats for body, and hops in the boil. Might have to drop the pH into the post-ferm range of 4.5 using lactic acid.

Anyway I have plenty of beer to play with, I’ll report back as I delve into this a bit more.

If all fails, I’ll resort to your suggestion Mabus.[/quote]
Yeah, I’ve been following that thread, and contributed to it some. My 1st attempt at neutering a beer, I heated 1 gallon to 180 on the stove, then put it in the oven set at 170 for 1/2 hour. I then chilled, checked SG,then added some yeast and bottled. The sg only went up 2 points, so I wasn’t figuring I got much of a change. I actually sprung the $ for the White Labs kit, and indeed I only decreased the ABV by 1% or so(don’t have the actual figures here). There wasn’t any noticeable taste difference to me(it was a Honey Porter).But, the interesting point is that it decreased about what I would have predicted from the SG change. So, next time I try, I’m just going to rely on that to tell me what I got. I’ve since checked my oven at that temperature setting and it was drastically off, so next time I will also monitor the actual beer temp.

Ha!
Yeah, I don’t get NA beer. If it’s really a problem for you, DON’T DRINK IT. Even if it resembles the real thing. It’s like vegans eating fake meat, if you have such a problem with eating real meat, why would you eat fake meat, something that is to resemble something you dislike? I know there’s all kinds of reasons and me, being mostly vegetarian, I eat fake meat on occasion, but it’s not really my thing. I certainly wouldn’t drink NA beer…what’s the point if it’s not even going to taste as good as the real deal? It’s like sex with a blowup doll…(which I’ve never had, by the way, haha).[/quote]
I sort of agree Beersk, in that NA beer to me is like kissing your sister. But I have a very good friend who loves beer and can’t/won’t drink full test stuff(I’m not going to label him an alki). So, I’m willing to sacrifice 1 gallon of some of my batches to experiment with making him a neutered beer. So far, 1st attempt was a failure, but I learned a few things and will keep trying.

So I tried the no ferment approach tonight. In 2gal of water I steeped 3/4lb of British crystal 30L, 1/4lb biscuit, a touch of melanoidin and 1/4lb of flaked rye. Ran this through a nyln bag to strain, and added a little phosphoric acid since I figured the pH was way high for a beer. Then I boiled this with some German Merkur hops (bittering and late additions), cooled and filtered into a couple of 2L bottles. I tasted it and found it to be exceedingly dry, bitter and I think tannic. Surprising that the crystal didnt’ make it sweet. The specific gravity was 1.010. Had good body from the rye. I added some Belgian syrup 90L to try and give it a bit of sweetness. Put a carb cap on the first bottle and am carbing it now at 30psi. Hope to try it tomorrow, although I’m not getting my hopes up.

I think I needed to put the grain in a sock and maybe steep it for a shorter time to reduce the tannins. It went a good 30min and I brought it up to 170F.

[quote=“tom sawyer”]So I tried the no ferment approach tonight. In 2gal of water I steeped 3/4lb of British crystal 30L, 1/4lb biscuit, a touch of melanoidin and 1/4lb of flaked rye. Ran this through a nyln bag to strain, and added a little phosphoric acid since I figured the pH was way high for a beer. Then I boiled this with some German Merkur hops (bittering and late additions), cooled and filtered into a couple of 2L bottles. I tasted it and found it to be exceedingly dry, bitter and I think tannic. Surprising that the crystal didnt’ make it sweet. The specific gravity was 1.010. Had good body from the rye. I added some Belgian syrup 90L to try and give it a bit of sweetness. Put a carb cap on the first bottle and am carbing it now at 30psi. Hope to try it tomorrow, although I’m not getting my hopes up.

I think I needed to put the grain in a sock and maybe steep it for a shorter time to reduce the tannins. It went a good 30min and I brought it up to 170F.[/quote]

The tannins may be from the hops and not the grain. With an SG of 1.010 that’s pretty darn close to water. I know from experience and a lot of “hop tea” posts that boiling hops in water results in a harsh, tannic quality in the resulting liquid. It seems like something about the sugars in, and the acidity of, the wort prevent these harsh attributes. Maybe instead of boiling the hops you can add some highly hopped IPA to the steeped grain boil. That way you have the alpha acids for bitterness without the vegetation to contribute tannins. You’d boil off the alcohol. For aroma, dry hopping would probably work, since you are not boiling the liquid at that point.

Additionally, take a look at this experiment that I did. Maybe it’ll answer some of the questions and raise a few more as it did for me.
http://forum.northernbrewer.com/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=113075

Thanks for the link, that was something I wondered about. I thought the caramel malts were supposed to be converted to sugars prior to drying/kilning, both of our results suggest this isn’t the case. Doesn’t make sense that this malt requires malting since it seems to be effective when steeped for extract brewing.

You may be right about the hops giving the tannins, I’ll have to consider how to avoid that. I also used a lot of hops and this may have exacerbated the problem.

I think the only way you’re going to make a good quality near-beer is to ferment an actual normal strength beer, then remove the alcohol at the end. Otherwise the character will be worty and/or full of tannins or something – entirely different than beery.

You’re probably right, its on my list to do.

I might try boiling a lot of hops in some regular wort to make a super-hopped extract that I could add back to the specialty grain steeped stuff at a low enough percentage that it wouldn’t be entirely sweet.

I’m still surprised that a crystal malt doens’t produce a sweet wort when steeped. Anyone got an explanation for this?

Some say dextrins are not very sweet. Crystal malts are chock full of dextrins.

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