Rounded VS Crisp Beer

It is amazing how much of an impact the body of beer has on the overall impression of a beer… I remember going to a local micro-brewery and tried an IPA they had cask conditioned…

Personally, I like IPA’s… they seem to be right in the middle between heavy bodied beers like Doppelbocks and light bodied beers like Hellesbocks…

When the girl brought the beer and I saw it, something didn’t really seem right… there was a little bit more foam than I expected to see and this thing was carbed up higher than it should’ve been…

The result?

The beer felt watery and took away from an otherwise extremely tasty beer… If you pay closer attention to this, you will see how much carbonation impacts the overall body of beer and I for one was shocked at how true it was… now, higher carbonation, doesn’t necessarily mean more watery, but if you are carbonating a beer, there comes a point at which carbonation is perfect and anything higher than that actually affects the brew…

Now carbonation is not everything when it comes to body of beer. The most important thing dealing with how crisp or rounded the beer will turn out to be is in the proteins, carbohydrates, and fats or oils in the beer.

Proteins help the body of the beer much the same way it helps our bodies… proteins are heavier than fats and oils and you can feel how heavy a beer with lots of protein feels against one with little proteins… consider trying a Kolsch style beer against a cream ale… two very similar beers… both very light weight, but the cream ale has more body, more roundness to it and it’s all because of the proteins included in the recipes of cream ales…

In other words proteins are a good thing in beer and fats are not… fats, waxes and oils degrade some proteins… I don’t like fat… not in me and not in my beer… god knows when was the last time I saw my six pack abs thanks to fat… not to mention the other six pack in the fridge isn’t helping either, but anyways…

The most common way I know of to add more body to your beer is by using carapils or dextrin malt… these are malts that have more dextrins which are complex sugars…

The reason for this is that more complex sugars are harder to ferment and they are the left overs of fermentation… the more leftover sugar you have the heavier the body of the beer will be… compare a Stout with a blonde ale and you’ll see what I mean…

Now, one question I get on this quite a bit, which quite frankly puzzled me for a long time is how come these beers with lots of complex sugars leftover are not exactly sweeter… I guess I was just used to making the wrong assumption that all sugars are sweet… and that’s not the case apparently…

Some smarter guys and gals than me study sugars and found that simple sugars (like regular table sugar) are sweet sugars, but complex sugars not so sweet… so when you add dextrins you are not exactly making the beer any sweeter, you are just adding body to the beer…

So hopefully you can see how this all starts to work together in that rounded beers tend to have more proteins or more dextrins or both and that crisp beers tend to not have as much… carbonation and how well you ferment also play a big part although proteins and carbohydrates I’d say are the main factor…

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