I brewed my first home written beer recipe in the end of last year, now I want to improve the beer. It was a simple single hops pale ale recipe, brewed in a 5L container, so it was a very small batch that I cooked for 60 min. Fermented for 3 weeks, and bottled for about 4 weeks before I opened the first one.

5L water
40g Waimea Hops (17% alpha acid)
1 kg Pale ale malt
150 g caramel malt (caraamber 60-80)

The hops was added like this

10g added 60 min prior to the end of the cook
10g added 15 min prior to the end of the cook
20g added 0 min prior to the end of the cook

During lautering, I added a small amount off water at 76 degree celsius.

I added some sugar before bottling to get carbon dioxide in it.

The beer turned out fine, it had a nice bitternes, could probably add some more hops at the beginning. But the body was not great, in my taste it was a bit "watery".

A beer brewing friend of mine told me that I could add some malt extract to get a richer body. Is there anything else I could do to achieve that? What steps during the brewing process affect the body? Would I get a richer body if I didn't add any extra water during lautering?

2 Answers 2


If you produce the same volume of beer with more malt, this will increase both alcohol and residual sweetness. It's the residual sweetness that will give it a heavier body.

A couple other things you could try that won't affect the alcohol content as much:

  1. Mash at a higher temperature. Keeping the mash temperature close to 156 F. will lead the creation of more unfermentable sugars, which will remain in the beer and provide body.

  2. Use more crystal malt. Your recipe has 13% crystal malt, which pretty typical for a pale ale. You could increase that to 18% or 20%, which will provide more body as crystal malts contain more unfermentable sugars that base malt. Dextrine malt (AKA Carafoam, Carapils) will add the unfermentables without changing the colour or flavour.

  • Thanks! I will experiment with the malt mixture in my next brew. I'll probably do two, one with dextrine malt and one with maltodextrin as @paul suggested.
    – fredrik
    Commented Jan 23, 2014 at 7:09

I agree with Tobias on more unfermentable sugars (high mash temp) and dextrine malts (carapils).

I'm adding a separate answer because I've had good luck adding maltodextrin. Carapils, which is supposed to do the same thing, has given me somewhat inconsistent results - that is sometimes I notice it and sometimes I don't. People tend to use maltodextrin more with extract recipes versus all-grain, I guess because carapils is less processed, and simpler since carapils can be added right to the mash, but I have found more consistent results from maltodextrin than carapils.

Maltodextrin can be used just for the purpose of adding body without extra sweetness, flavor or color (crystal malts add color and flavor). For a 5 gal batch, boil 8oz for 10-15 min. I've had good experience with it adding body to IPAs, even when mashing low (148-152), when including maltodextrin or carapils.

You can also try adding some flaked oats or flaked barley (0.5 lb to 1.5 lb) to the mash in any recipe to add body without too much change in flavor or color. Toasting the oats, as is common in oatmeal stouts, will accentuate their flavor, so I would not toast if you don't want oat flavor. Without toasting, they don't add a lot of flavor in my opinion.

Flaked wheat can also add some nice smoothness and body but it can make your beer cloudy. However, with a clean ale yeast (like California/Chico/American Ale), you can brew a full-bodied wheaty pale ale or IPA.

I would not add more extract in order to get body, since extract is highly fermentable.

  • 2
    Good point about the flaked barley and oats. Both contain beta-glucans which increase body. Commented Jan 22, 2014 at 18:25

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