Most brewers who use a beer kit often experience a watered down beer or characterless beer. There is however the case of the extract brewer who doesn’t understand ingredients very well and will experience the same if a recipe is not structured properly…
Here’s the story:
So my first brew I planned to follow the KISS method and I think I accomplished my goal. My beer actually tasted better than the beer they sell at stores according to my friends who seemed to enjoy it more than I did. I say that because I think the beer lacked body, or just felt watered down.
The taste was fine, it was just watery. It was almost like taking a sip of good beer followed by a drowned watery taste.
I’m thinking two things could have happened. First, the amount of water I used. Since it was supposed to be a 5 gallon batch and I was accounting for water evaporating during the boil, I started with 6 gallons! I had to boil it 3 gallons at a time since my electric stove doesn’t have the power to boil 6 gallons, and yes it took an eternity to boil.
Second, the recipe I used was pretty basic:
2 lbs Amber DME
3 lbs Pale LME
Hops of your choice and walla
Yeast Safale S-04
Pretty basic and now I wonder what I should do next? I have read about only using Crystal DME and getting color from steeping grains or partial mashing which in addition could add more body. Anyways, this is just a little bit of info I have picked up but I may be wrong so please set me straight or give me some ideas.
Cheers to a better beer,
Whoa… that’s barely enough malt to brew a four gallon batch, if that. So I guess it’s both, the amount of water you used and the ingredients you used. Nothing wrong with the recipe other than you used too much water for it. Or it could be stated the other way around, nothing wrong with the amount of water you used only that you needed to almost double the amount of ingredients (Malt).
Here’s a couple recommendations…
First off, when it comes to brewing and the reason why I like extract brewing is because of the flexibility you have. A basic recipe for a pale ale is really nothing more than a base malt plus 1/2 lb of Caramel malt.
That’s for a 5 gallon batch… now the questions as to how much base malt you would use will vary, but for a five gallon batch you want to use at least 5 lbs although a better beer will be brewed if you add 6 lbs of DME. More DME will add a little bit of body, but most importantly will add more fermentables to get a good brew.
If you want to add even more body, without adding the extra alcohol, then I suggest you add more Caramel malt/Crystal malt. You may want to limit or avoid using anything higher than Crystal malt 80 °L since these malts have more of a raisiny, burnt sugar-like flavor and may be too dark for a pale ale.
Also, you are right about using plain DME and using specialty grains to add color. See Amber DME is nothing more than plain DME with specialty grains to give it color. By using specialty grains you have more control over it and know how much fermentable sugar went into your wort.
Both english and american pale ales need to have at least an Original Gravity of 1.045 (1.048 American) and no more than 1.060. So keep that in mind when you decide on the amount of ingredients you are using.
Last, there is no need to complicate brewing and attempting to boil all 5 gallons of beer. When you boil less than 5 gallons, what you have to account for is wort darkening (meaning your beer will turn out a bit darker) and that hops will not bitter the wort as much because of the density of the wort. This may be noticeable if you boil 2-3 gallons, but most electric stoves can handle 4 gallons pretty well, and some may even push the 5 gallon boils, but remember that handling that much boiling hot wort can be dangerous if you have to move the pot somewhere else to be cooled.