Brewing Low ABV beers is hard. Really hard.
With beer everything is about balance, and a beer style that intentionally throws off that balance by being light on both malt and alcohol means it will struggle to look, taste and smell like a beer that was intentional rather than simply watered-down.
If we backtrack and clarify – I am talking about low alcohol beers, between 1.0 and 2.5%. As you get down to the no alcohol range of the category the higher the likelihood of further processing in order to remove the alcohol from the grain through heating, filtration or centrifugation.
To make a low ABV beer work for a beer drinker it still needs to drink like a beer. This means full flavour and be difficult to discern from its full alcohol counterpart.
Below are some tips to achieve that difficult target:
• Use big flavourful malts – This is a great time to use Aurora, Munich or Vienna malts as your main base malt. They are full of flavour and when you need less malt you are getting more bang for the buck.
• Mash High – We want to maintain as much body as we can in the beer. This means reduce how much work β-amylase can do during the mash, giving us more long chain starches, which cannot be further broken down by the yeast and will contribute to the body of the beer. β-amylase is denatured above 70 degrees so try mashing at 72+ or quickly ramping up above 72 to deactivate this enzyme.
• Shorten the mash
• Try Maltodextrin – Use maltodextrin to add some points to final gravity and help the beer not taste thin and watered down
• Do a few trials – This is not an easy beer to brew and may take a few shots to get the mash and grain settings right for your system.