Beer Break Vol. 3, No. 16
Just add water? Not exactly
Jan. 30, 2003
We've certainly learned much about light beers and high gravity brewing since
-- and we still haven't had to start any research.
Instead, we only had to open our email box and read what Beer Break
subscribers sent us.
In case you've forgotten, our discussion started because of a Florida
newspaper article. The columnist wrote that a conversation with a former
brewery worker confirmed the columnist's suspicion that light beer is made by
taking regular beer and adding water.
First, Bill Anderson, a retired master brewer for Schlitz and Stroh's wrote
"With regard to Narragansett Brewing Co. Flynn (Bob Flynn, the brewery worker
who the columnist quoted) does not know what he is talking about. If I recall
Flynn worked in the warehouse. He never saw a beer tank. If what he said the
alcohol would go from 3.6% (alcohol) to 2.6%.
"Just a case of someone who is bitter because the brewery had to close
because of union demands. True light beers are brewed to hold the calorie
content in specs to meet federal regulation.
"I was Master Brewer at Narragansett for several years until I left in 1975,"
Anderson concluded, adding, "High gravity brewing uses filtered, carbonated
water after fermentation and at the filtration stage."
Bob Hewitt wrotes us: "Charles Bamforth described a likely scenario (other
than watering down): 1. Mash at a lower temperature for a longer time to get
maximum fermentables, thus lowering carbs (and calories and some taste). This
appears to be how Michelob 'Ultra' is brewed. 2. The resulting beer is higher
in alcohol, so some is removed. 3. Package and sell."
Bamforth is author of the recently published "Standards of Brewing," an
essential addition to any professional brewer's library.
Two for Chicago
If you are looking for an excuse to visit Chicago, now that is seems to be
emerging from the deep freeze, then consider a trip at the end of February or
to kick off April.
The seventh annual Real Ale Festival is Feb. 27-March 1, with a Real Ale
Feast Feb. 26. The festival offers the largest collection of cask beers
outside of Britain, with 200 expected. It includes award winning beers from
both Great Britain and America. For more information, visit
On April 1, the Illinois Guild of Craft Brewers will hold the first annual
Festival of Barrel Aged Beer at the Rock Bottom Brewery in downtown Chicago.
The festival will feature barrel and wood aged beer from the Midwest and
beyond. Beer will be judged and awards will be given. For more information,
CITY PALE ALE
Brewed by City Brewer in LaCrosse, Wis.
Michael Jackson writes:
Attractive, warm bronze color. Good, earthy hop aroma. Hoppy palate,
gradually rounding into a firm, smooth maltiness. Drying out again in finish.
Appetizing. Some dustiness and slightly tart fruitiness. A sociable,
appetite-arousing pale ale, heading in the direction of Calutta. Two or three
pints of this and it's time for an Indian meal.
Brewed by der Kirschbräu in Germany
Roger Protz writes:
Brilliant presentation in a swing-top bottle. It's 7.2% volume, the classic
Doppel-bock strength. Chestnut-colored with barley-white foam, a rich
chocolate, bready/yeasty aroma, followed by a stunning palate of rich, dark
malts, a deep and vinous/fried grape fruitiness, and delicate hops. The
finish is long, linger, delectable, with sweet malt, floral hops and dark
chocolate vying for attention.