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Most methods, like increasing mash temperature, adding oat flakes, or using lactose, increase body even more than sweetness. Are there any methods to increase sweetness only, without affecting body?

I want to achieve bittersweet session beer, so cutting on hops is not an option. I would prefer to avoid artificial sweeteners, if possible. What are my options?

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You've covered most the bases so without going into too much "why" here are some suggestions.

The Why The key to light body sweetness are simple sugars (monosaccharides) but these are the easiest for yeast to eat. Larger molecule, harder to ferment sugars impart a cloying body and a slick mouthfeel.

Suggestions

  • Underattenuation.
    1. Stop fermentation early. (many methods here, or google)
    2. Use a low ABV tollerant yeast. This may not be possible at session strength
  • Natural Stevia rebaudiana (Bertoni). I'm seeing this more and more in commercial beer and ciders. I'm eager to work with this 'new' ingredient. Stevia plants can be bought at home and garden stores. Or there are several processes sweeteners on the market using Stevia.
  • Parti-Gyle wort. In my experience this second runnings wort is a very 'clean' not to be confused with 'thin'. Having less large protiens that build body. Depending on the mother mash this can be a very light body base for unfermentable adjuncts.
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    I do have two little jars of dried stevia leafs, seems like a god idea to add them to the boil as an experiment :) – Mołot Feb 29 '16 at 13:46
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Use a lower attenuating yeast would be my first suggestion; leaving more sugar for you to taste. What yeast are you currently brewing with?

  • Oh man, I brew american ones with us-05, wheat and Belgian ones with dedicated Fermentum Mobile strains (Polish lab), now I have dry stout on Mangrove Jack's M-something, 07 as far as I remember (English high attenuation ones). Basically, I use whatever I need... If I know what I need, that is. – Mołot Feb 29 '16 at 13:30
  • Rather than a US-05, try a S-04 has ~70% attenuation rather than the 80% for US-05 will leave a lot more residual sweetness. You should be able to find the attenuation of various yeasts on the producers websites. – Mr_road Feb 29 '16 at 13:35
  • I considered Mangrove Jack's M15 with attenuation of 70~75%. S-04 have "up to 75%" attenuation as far as I understand manufacturer's PDF, so it should be OK as first step, right? – Mołot Feb 29 '16 at 13:39
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Try adding a little bit of salt. Not enough to make it noticeably salty, just enough to change the flavour slightly, it can be perceived as sweetness (it may vary from person to person so not a great option for competition brewing). You can try this with a glass of ready to drink beer so the effort is pretty minimal.

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