I love beer, but getting drunk can sometimes lead to less than stellar situations.  Believe me, a nice buzz is rather pleasant, but getting snoozy, surly, or immensely lazy because you’ve consumed too much can be a downer.  Not to mention, higher alcohol beer has considerably more calories – problematic for any of us seeking to shed a few pounds.

Having grown somewhat tired of brewing 6-8% IPA after IPA after IPA, I’ve decided to spend more time focusing on brewing Session Beers.  The Session Beer Project defines a session beer as 4.5% ABV or lower, but yet still flavorful and balanced.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked into a local bar and 75% of the taps are 7+ % by volume!

I’m deeming my most recently tapped beer as a “Belgian Mild.”  I was aiming for something along the lines of an English Mild, but with a Belgian twist – a beer that has a similar flavor profile to an Abbey Dubbel, at half the alcohol.

Note:  I brew far more than I can personally consume.  I welcome anyone in the area who wants a try this or any of my other homebrew to ping me and you can gladly have some.

Belgian Mild

Malt Bill

  • US 2-Row Malt (6#, 65%)
  • German Dark Munich Malt (1#, 11%)
  • Belgian Special B (12oz, 8%)
  • US Aromatic Malt (8oz, 5%)
  • German CaraMunich II (8oz, 5%)
  • German Melanoidin Malt (8oz, 5%)
  • Maltodextrin (8oz)

Hops

  • German Tettnang (1oz, 3% AA, 60m)
  • German Hallertauer Hersbrucker (.6oz, 3.8% AA, 60m)

Mash: Single Step Infusion at 158 dF
Boil: 60 minutes
Target Wort volume post-boil: 6 gallons
Target Original Gravity: 1.039, assuming 70% efficiency (I actually ended up hitting 80%)
20 IBU, 15 SRM

For fermentation, I decided to go with Wyeast 3942 (Belgian Wheat) because it was the lowest-attenuating of Wyeast’s Belgian strains.  One of the problems with trying to do session beers is that they tend to finish at too low of a final gravity, leading to a lack of body.  I am trying to combat that by not over-attenuating, and by using a larger percentage of specialty malts (which have a lower extraction rate.)

This ended up finishing at 1.013 (a shade under 70% attenuation) which turned out to be great.  The beer is full bodied and malty but not overly sweet, with slight raisin and bready overtones.  I feel as though the yeast strain contributed a little too much in the way of bubblegum esters though.  In the future, I’d probably use a slightly different strain – possibly Wyeast 1214 Belgian Abbey, and compensate for the increased attenuation with a slightly higher mash temperature (160.)

Overall, I think this is my favorite homebrew to date!

If you are into the idea of session beers, check out Lew Bryson’s Session Beer Project blog, or High and Mighty, a vegan-owned brewery on the East Coast.