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Although it's few years I'm into homebrewing I made only few batches, about 6-7, trying different styles, like pale ales, sweet stouts and weiss. As now I always used extracts plus speciality grains and I've never done mashing.

I'm quite happy with the result but all the batches are quite heavy bodied. It's difficult for me to explain exactly what is it, but for sure I never made a refreshing, light bodied pale ale. Of course for some styles it's what I want, but not for others.

My question is, what I can to to improve this and be able to have a light bodied beer? It seems the the different OG of the different styles I tried don't give me the expected results. Is this a problem with the extract? Should I move to partial or all grain?

  • There's absolutelY nothing wrong woth using sugar to control body. Even with partial mash you may need to do that since you'll still be using extract. Heck, I sometimes do it with all grain batches. Don't overlook a useful tool in the toolbox. And there is absolutely no benefit to using inverted sugar in terms of beer quality. Don't make homebrewing harder than it needs to be. – Denny Conn Apr 27 '15 at 16:30
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Considering that your problem is consistent, I would say it is the extract. Although you can make good beer form good extract, you can't control the fermentability, so you can't make different styles very well from the same extract.

Going to a partial grain recipe might be relatively painless way to fix the problem. The brew-in-a-bag method is easiest to set up. Get some highly modified American or Australian 2-row, crush it (at your brew shop) and then mash it for 60-90 minutes at 60C/140F. This will give you a highly fermentable (arguably too fermentable) wort to which you can add extract after the mash. By adjusting the ratio of grains to extract you should be able to dial in the body that you want for the style.

Another possibility is that your yeast are giving up a little too early at the end of fermentation. Usually this would be attributed to poor temperature control: if there is a drop in temperature, and not much sugar left, the yeast will become dormant and never consume the residual sugar in the beer. But this kind of thing is usually not consistent, I'd expect you to get a good brew here or there.

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  • I think I will try as you say and move to partial mash. I haven't much space at home and usually I do batches of about 1gal/5l. This allows me to be quick and experiment. Maybe I'll stick to one light style until I am satisfied with the result and then move the technique to other styles. About the yeast I'm not sure: I keep the batch in my room where the temperature changes of only a couple of degrees (no other temperature control!) – ColOfAbRiX Apr 24 '15 at 12:02
  • It's a lot easier than that. Just replace maybe 5-10% of the extract with table sugar. It's a great fix. When I was designing an extract version of my Rye IPA recipe for Northern Brewer, I was having the same issue as you are now. By swapping 1/2 lb. of dry extract for 1/2 lb. of table sugar, the recipe not only reached the same FG as the all gran version., the flavor and body were also very close. – Denny Conn Apr 24 '15 at 17:14
  • I do 1 gal batchs of brew-in-a bag, you dont need much more equipment if you are already doing 1 gal extract batches. just need a nylon, or other fine mesh bag, a 2-3 gal bucket and a blanket or towel of insulation. but remember that efficiency when you start out is going to be about 40-50% as for tempt control, I use a 5 gal bucket of water and drop the 2 gal bucket inside to keep the temperature stable, since I also do not have temp control. – jsolarski Apr 25 '15 at 2:20
  • @ColOfAbRiX since your batch size is small, any temperature affects that 5-10 gallon brewers have will be much greater for you. So you should insulate the brew as much as possible, or put it on a water bath to increase the thermal mass. And Denny's sugar suggestion will certainly work if the heaviness isn't too bad. – Pepi Apr 25 '15 at 4:49
  • What they said ;-). You might consider using invert rather than table sugar since it's more readily fermentable, and less likely to give an acidic tang to the beer. Either way, with such small batches it's easy & cheap enough to experiment. – Glasseyed Apr 25 '15 at 15:51

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