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Homebrewing Techniques For Low-Alcohol Beer

Mike invited me over for an unexpected beer and he was correct in that description. He brewed a low ABV beer that he’s been thinking about for a while. There have been a few articles that we have read lately about brewing non-alcoholic beers. Let’s just say that Mike questions if those types of beers are achievable at the homebrew level, but he thinks we can brew beers successfully that are just a touch above that 0% ABV. This post explores his homebrewing techniques for low-alcohol beer and the results of his first experiment.

What Are Those Techniques?

The main thing Mike keeps in mind is that small adjustments to a typical homebrewing session can make big changes in the beer. Here are the slightly modified techniques to brew a low ABV beer.

1. Build Your Grain Bill For a Low Starting Gravity
Keep the weights of your grains down. In recipe below, Mike intentional measured his grain amounts to dial in his starting gravity to be under 1.040. His base malts are still making up the majority of the bill, but the small amounts are enabling to keep the fermentable sugars low.

2. Use Flavorful Base and Specialty Malts
To make sure the resulting beer is tasty, use a combination of malts that bring a lot of flavor. Seek out base malts that have identifiable flavors. Blend them with specialty malts that accentuate the overall malt

3. Aim For a High Mash Temperature
You want to bring as much body to the beer as possible so that it isn’t perceived as thin. You want it to be light but not thin, if that makes sense. A higher mash temperature will bring more non-fermentable sugars to the beer, resulting in more body.

4. Use a Yeast Strain With Moderate Attenuation
Mike likes his English strains. Some of them don’t attenuate fully so they are perfect for low-alcohol beers since they will stop fermenting before all the available sugars are spent. The other advantage to English yeasts is that most of them flocculate so they fall out of the beer easily.

Using this list of techniques should set you up well for a low-alcohol beer. Now, let’s look at them in action with this recipe.

Low ABV English Bitter Recipe

Batch Size: 3 US Gallons ( L)

1.5 pounds (680 g) of Maris Otter Malt – 47% of the grain bill
12 ounces of (340 g) Light Munich Malt (7L) – 24% of the grain bill
12 ounces of (340 g) Vienna Malt – 24% of the grain bill
2 ounces of (57 g) Extra Special Malt (Briess) -4% of the grain bill
1 ounce of (28 g) Midnight Wheat – 2% of the grain bill

1 ounce of (28 g) East Kent Goldings hops at 4.2%AA for 60 minutes

LalBrew® Windsor British Ale Dry Yeast

Mash temperature: 158° F (70° C)
Starting Gravity: 1.036
Final Gravity: 1.022

Low-Alcohol Beer Thoughts

Well, this beer made me re-think a lot of things. In the video, I say that it is light. Thinking about the concept of light, I now understand better alcohol’s effect on the total beer experience. Removing it changes my perception of the beverage entirely.

You can see that this beer has a lot of flavor. These procedures are straight out of the English Mild playoff. If you are looking to brew a beer with a lot of flavor, go with this model.

Hopefully, you learned something about these homebrewing techniques for low-alcohol beer. If you have tips that we have missed, leave them in the comments below.



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  1. Les Hoffman

    i just brewed a similar dark mild with only 2-row, carapils and 25% Fawcett dark chocolate malt. It’s like eating an 85% dark chocolate bar. I’m limited in alcohol consumption due to chemo treatment and this type of ale is a fun challenge to make. Tasty, too. Check out this London brewery specializing in low-end ABV products:

  2. Thanks Les – that’s a great recipe!

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