Building and Brewing Your Own Session Beer

session-beer-fermentingAre session beers the next big thing for the craft beer drinkers and homebrewers?  I don’t know about you, these sub 5% abv beers are for me.  Session beers are my go to beer now; a beer with great flavors that is not going to mess you up after a glass or two.  Don’t get me wrong I enjoy a big beer here and there, but almost any day of the week I’m going to gravitate towards the lower abv beers.

A couple of my favorites right now are Flying Dog Atlantic Lager and Founders All Day IPA, two 4.7% abv beers with amazing flavor that you can sit back and chill out with.  While there are some amazing low abv beers out there, there are others that just feel watered down; in the end there just isn’t a big selection to choose from.  This got me thinking, is session craft beer a niche that needs to be filled?  How hard can it be to make a flavorful non-watered down tasting beer?

Well, it may not be as easy as you think.

I’ve recently started to brew low abv beers and found it is not as simple as taking a recipe and scaling it down.  This is a big reason why many low abv homebrews I’ve had, including my own, end up with this watery or thin taste.

What is a homebrewer to do? After a couple of watery/thin beers, I’m currently experimenting with 3 redesigned beers that are each under 4.2% abv – a Pale Ale, American Wheat, and American Brown Ale.  For these 3 beers, I scaled in down the recipes added some additional Munich malt to what was already in the recipe as well as some aromatic malt.  These two malts should add to the appearance of malt with a bit more bread/biscuit flavors that should add some additional depth.  Lastly I bumped up the mash temp to 157/158 degrees.  The additional complex sugars should give the “appearance” of greater mouthfeel.

These beers are still resting in the fermenter, however initial samples of the pale ale showed much improvement.  It had a clean crisp hop bite and the mouthfeel that I was hoping for.

What have you done to make great tasting low abv beers, leave a comment and let us know.

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3 Responses to “Building and Brewing Your Own Session Beer”

  1. Chris Says:

    I agree with you Peter…. I’m getting tired of these big hop bombs and want a session-able beer with hop flavor…
    I have been experimenting with lots of late hops and whirlpool additions and not adding a bitttering charge at all.

    I really like your idea to add a bit of aromatic to help in the the “thinness”…

    What are those gas lines hanging on your carboys? can you explain?

  2. simplybeer Says:

    the pale ale I did had a first wort hop and then two very late additions of citra and zythos, the american wheat also had a fwh and then very late addition of cascade and hallertauer. I like the bitterness better with the FWH then the 60 minute.

    OK, so the red hoses are to pressurize the carboy to a couple PSI to push the beer through a dip tube straight into a corney. no air contact. I hook the gas ball lock onto a coupler I build which has 2 gas posts. In other words, the gas out from my co2 hooks to the post on one end of the coupler. the other end also has a gas post which to carboy hooks to allowing the co2 to flow through and I don’t have to disassemble any to use the co2. #DIYHack

  3. simplybeer Says:

    Tried the the other two beers this afternoon. The aromatic added a lot of bready characteristic to the american wheat. While it has great mouthfeel for the low abv, it tastes a bit off for the style although it does taste pretty good. I’ll have to back it off a bit and try another malt with that beer.

    The brown ale was really good, still a bit thin for style, hard to characterize it. I guess it would be an American Mild? Otherwise it is a pretty damn good beer.


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