Posts Tagged ‘small beer’

Loosing A Great Recipe

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

summer_beerSo today was B day for my small beer “Summer Steam”. The good news is the beer is awesome, and I fully plan on going into detail on why. The bad news though is that I have none of my information on it. My recipe, original gravity, all that stuff is gone. When I made the recipe it was mostly just some guess work on grains, leftover hops from my freezer, and guesswork on amounts and times. So rather then having a made out shopping list for ingredients I just entered it all in a recipe calculator, and added OG and hopping schedule in the notes. Then my battery died and I lost it all. The chances of me brewing this beer the same way again are so low that it’s somewhat depressing.

Why My Summer Steam Rules

This beer has to be one of my favorite light beers ever. My inspiration for it came while drinking a bottle of Anchor Small Beer. Was just sitting there thinking about how nice it was to have a beer that was so refreshing and low in alcohol. Then the cogs started turning. Next time I was in the homebrew store I was on a mission. My goal was to pack as much flavor as possible in as small of a beer as possible.

I used amber malt extract, rye malt, and crystal malt for my base. When it came to selecting hops though I knew I wanted to use the hops in the freezer, but I had no recollection at that moment what was in the freezer, nor can I recollect now. Lastly I had to pick a yeast. This part was tuff since I wanted to stay away from using Nottingham like I usually do. Quickly I hit on the idea of making a steam beer. Doug recommended a California lager yeast that fit the bill perfectly.

When I pitched the lager though it didn’t take off immediately and I re pitched Nottingham. After I pitched the ale yest though the lager bounced back, so I had both a lager and an ale yeast fermenting my beer at the same time. For the first 24 hours the ale yeast dominated. The Krausen was a dirty color and not very dense. After that though the krausen had changed to a denser whiter head and fermentation slowed, but chugged steadily for 6 more days. It was the most unique experience I’ve had in brewing

So to recap here are all the things I had never done before I made this beer

•I never had made a beer under 4% alcohol
•All my previous beers had been made with Nottingham Ale Yeast
•None of my previous beers were lagers
•I had never used rye
•This was my first beer made using two seperate yeasts

Needless to say there were alot of variables to this beer for me. The end result was worth the nervousness though. The beer is fairly dry, and according to my original guesstimates it should be around 2.5% alcohol. However since I have no OG reading I can’t say for sure. Although the beer is dry since it’s so light it still manages to be very refreshing. It’s crisp, clean, and flavorful. The bitterness is really distinct, but not overpowering, and the 5 gal I dryhopped are amazing with that light hop aroma. The best part of this beer though is that it comes in under 130 cal per a bottle. This is deffinatly a beer I want to brew again…. That is if I could.

Small Beer

Monday, May 4th, 2009

smallbeerCurrently I have 10 gal of a modern attempt at a small beer bubbling away in both my carboys. I say modern because even at 2.5% ABV it’s still not a true small beer. In fact most small beers out there aren’t true small beers, even the ones made using the same process. So what is a small beer?

Small beers are deeply rooted in history, and the need to provide beer for ones household. Back then beer was made in the home, usually by a woman from the kitchen. In a small family this would usually be the wife, and in a larger household a servant. Beer was in integral part of society then and much of it was made. Unlike modern day brewing though the batches were often larger, and not as diverse. One day I may brew a small beer, and the next a nice roasty stout. When you’re brewing large batches for an entire household for a large space of time though you wouldn’t do this.

So what is a small beer exactly? From what I’ve gathered by reading books on the history of beer what we call a small beer nowadays used to be called a table beer. Malt extracts are a fairly new thing to brewing, and before them all brewing was all grain. When the grains were rinsed in the tun there were multiple runnings made. The first running is what we call now call beer. This was added to the pot, boiled with hops, and turned into what we often think of as a normal beer. Once the first runnings were pulled off they sent more water through the tun and got what was called a second run. We have now arrived at what we now call small beer. This beer is usually around 3% ABV and would be drunk throughout the day and at meals. If it was possible a third running would be made to produce a true small beer. This beer was loaded with tannins, and didn’t have much flavor. It was usually reserved for servants and children.

So is it possible to brew a modern small beer using old methods? Anchor Brewing has a small beer made from the second runnings of their barlywine, and Firestone Walker makes a small beer called lil Opal from the second runnings of their wheat whine Opal. Notice both these small beers are made from big malty beers. With a big beer like a barlywine your efficiency goes down and more sugars are left in the grains. This means that when you make a second running you’ll still get alot of flavor, without a lot of tannins in the wort. This makes big beers the perfect candidates for the homebrewer to experiment with when it comes to making small beer. So if you brew all grain, and your making a big beer like a barlywine then get out an extra fermentor and make some small beer.