Session Beers – Step 4 – Mild Recipe

What’s nice about session beers is that you can make them pretty quick and then drink them pretty quick.  When I say quick, I should say that they could be done in a matter of just a few days.  Since they are so light as well, you’re not going to gain some major complexity with them sitting for months in a bottle either.  These beers you can make on a Sunday, and if you are kegging you can drink the next Sunday.  Pretty wild right?!  Hense why I love them – they are the perfect pub ale.  This beer is going to be light in flavor with a just a light brown color to it.  Fuggles are the only hop addition to this beer so you are not going to have a big hop aroma at all.  The hops are going to be mellow and not going to have a huge bitterness to them.  That makes sense though since the beer is so light to begin with.


pub     This is a recipe that I’ve used in the past that I really like a lot.  This is a mild that is pretty good and easy to drink year round.  If you are doing all-grain then I would recommend using M.O for this beer.  Also you might want to consider the no sparge technique for brewing since you can do it for this one.


4.5 lbs Golden Light LME

1 oz Chocolate Malt

8 oz Flaked Corn

1 lbs Cane Sugar

1 oz Fuggles (60 min)

Any English Ale Yeast





SRM: 6

OG: 1.033

FG: 1.006

ABV: 3.5%




  • Heat 2.5 gallons of water up to 150
  • Put grains in steeping bag and steep for 20 min
  • Take grains out
  • Add malt extract and sugar into water
  • Bring to boil
  • Add Fuggle hops
  • Boil for 60 min
  • End boil
  • Cool down, put in fermenter fill to 5 gallons and pitch yeast
  • Ferment for 3 days – 7 days
  • Put in bottles with 4 oz of corn sugar
  • Let sit in bottle for 2 weeks


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Session Beers – Step 3 – The Balance (HOPS)

The hardest thing about making session beers is keeping the balance.  Balance in a beer is the essential element for having a beer that is drinkable and enjoyable.  It’s hard to get and it’s even harder to achieve for beers that are 4.5% ABV or less.   In this part of the series we’ll break down some keys to the balance particular for hops because that’s normally where it falls short.




For most of this post we’ll just use the classic IPA as an example.  When making an IPA, normally you will have something along the lines of 7% ABV and around the lines of 70 IBU’s.  You can do this pretty easily just because the malt bill will give a back bone to contrast the hops.  I talk about this in pretty big depth in our series on How To Design Your Own Beer.  But when you are making a session IPA, you really can’t push the IBU that high without it tasting like club soda that you dropped some hops in.  For a session IPA you have to keep the IBU’s lower because it is a smaller beer.  So a session IPA might be around, 50 IBU and that’s the top limit.  But there is a way to trick people into thinking it’s a hoppier beer then what it really is without losing any balance.


So the way that I like to add my hops with session beers is by giving the illusion that the beer is hoppier then what it really is.  An easy way to do this is by Hop Bursting with the conjunction of First Wort Hop Additions (FWH).  Let me explain what both of these are.


Hop bursting is a kinda something new in the IPA world, I’m not sure who started it though.  Essentially you don’t have many hops in the beginning and you grow the hop additions as the boil continues.  So it doesn’t have a huge bittering part but it grows in the flavor as well as aroma.  By doing this you are preventing astringent flavors at the end.  So the beer will have hop flavor to it but it just won’t be that bitter.  I know that sounds like an oxymoron but it’s the way it works.  To ensure that you don’t have any of these sharp flavors that can throw off the balance of a session beer, I really do prefer to use FWH.


balance for beer


FWH additions are when you add the hops to wort before it even begins to boil.  Normally in a beer, you will bring the wort to a boil and then add your hops in the beginning.  The risk that you run with is that you can have some sharp flavors.  FWH additions really do minimize the risk.  It’s has a mellow flavor and really doesn’t pack a punch.  It’s my favorite way to add in bittering hops into beers.


The last tip for doing session beer IPA’s is that I would use a very clean bittering hop for the first addition hop.  As of late I have really preferred Columbus hops as well as Magnum.  Both seem to just leave a clean flavor for the beer with out too much going on.  If you have a, “Citrus” hop that’s added into the wort in the beginning, it might get carried away with being to flavorful (in a bad way).  Clean hops in the beginning really do help out.


I know for this whole post I’ve talked about IPA’s but in all actuality you can use these principles to any session beer.  The key when adding hops is quite simple with session beers, if you wanted to add lots of hops, you have to add them at the end.  It prevents your beer tasting weird and just seeming like a really hoppy watery beer.


So next we’ll start building some good session beers to have in the summer and explain the recipe so you can get some direction when you start your own session beer.



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Session Beers – Step 2 – How To Make One

In the first part of our series we went over what exactly qualifies as a session beer.  It’s just a smaller beer.  Now the question is, how do you make one.  There are a few different ways, and this section we’re going to go over a really quick shortcut.


The easiest way to make a small beer for homebrewing applies for is for all-grain brewers, although I do a have a trick for extract brewers.   You can essentially make 2 beers for the price of one.





When making an all-grain batch if you are a batch sparger, you will collect runnings from 2 sparges.  This will give you enough wort to make one 5 gallon batch.  The thing is that the grains that are left over still have fermentable sugars in them and can still be used.  If you use them, you just don’t get a lot of fermentable sugars, but that’s just because they have been mostly used.  If you continue to take runnings from the beer you will end up with a smaller beer and one has a low ABV.


This really isn’t a new technique by any means, it’s one that has been used for quite some time (like throughout history).  It gets tricky though when trying to figure out how to estimate the OG for the smaller beer.  There is a formula for that and beersmith has it.  To tell you the truth I don’t use it.  I just swag and it view it as a very light and almost free beer.  I say almost because you’ll want to lightly hop it and add yeast.  Also depending on what the OG for your light beer you might want to have some corn sugar or extract on hand to spike it up just a bit.


How much hops should you add?  That’s really subjective.  Know that if it’s a smaller beer you can’t really add a ton or it’s going to get out of balance.  We’ll get into that in our next part to the series though.




For Extract Brewers

A really easy way to make a session brew is to just half the recipe.  So if you have a 6% beer recipe, half it all the way across and now you have a 3%.  Everything should stay in balance.  The other way is buy the 5 gallon recipe and then just make 10 gallons.  It’s as bit tricky doing it that way because normally you are doing partial boils.  If you don’t pour correctly you might end up with inconstant beers.


Some beers work better for this than others.  IPA’s work well for session IPA’s, same thing with wheats, pales, browns, and porters.


Next in the series we are going to talk about how to develop a recipe for a session and finally start throwing out some session beer recipes to try before it gets to hot outside.


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A Belgian Ale Which Will Rock Your World

We got a taste of warm weather, and we all know what means – it’s Belgian time!

With warm weather coming in, it really makes me itch for Belgian beers.  When Pinocchio said, Anything is possible if you just believe, I’m pretty sure he was referring to the world of Belgian brews.

(Got to love the Disney world of beers)

If there are rules with Belgian brews, they are pretty loose and for the most part they are common sense (keep it light and refreshing – for the most part).  You really can use your artistic side when brewing Belgian beers, AND ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!

Every year my summer project with brewing is to get really good at one style of beer.  That means I go over board on experimenting with a style. Last year was colonial beers (which if you are feeling extra patriotic, time your colonial brewers for the 4th of July), this summer its Belgian brews for me.  I’m on a quest to get a bit out of my comfort zone, expand my palate and my appreciation towards Belgian beers.

(Billy Holiday I know what you mean when you sang, “summertime and living is easy”)

So I wanted to share 2 different recipes that will hopefully spark some interest of yours into the world of Belgians.   I wanted to share 2 of them because I have managed to turn a Belgian into my favorite style of beer, a session brew.  The other well it’s more to, “style”.

Belgian Session Brew – 30 min boil 5 gallon batch

4 oz Crystal Malt 20L

3 lbs Pilsner Malt Extract

4 oz Malto Dextrin

.75 oz Saaz (30min)

.5 oz Saaz (5min)

Saf T-58

OG: 1.023

FG: 1.006

ABV: 2.2%

SRM: 3

IBU:  26.1


  1. Heat 2.5 gallons of water up to 150 and steep your grains for 30 min.
  2. Take your grains out, add your dme and bring up to a boil
  3. In the beginning of your boil add .75 oz of Saaz hops
  4. Boil for 25min then add .5 oz of Saaz hops
  5. Boil for 5 min
  6. Kill heat, cool down, fill up to 5 gallons pitch yeast
  7. Primary – 7-14 days
  8. Bottle -14 -28 days

Why Would You Do That…?

Easy to answer, I like session beers.  Now this is a super light session, but again these types of brews are my jam.  The 20L will make it just a tad sweet and add a bit of color to it.  Malto dextrin is a non fermentable sugar, this will add a bit of mouth feel as well.  The Saaz hops are floral and have a bit of spice to them.  They are also low in alpha (3%) which will be good to balance out a light body.

It is light, 2.2%.  So it’s REALLY light.  If you have been working on, “Summer Shape” and working out but want a beer still, this one only has 65 calories per pint so don’t feel too bad having a few of these.

One thing to note with this beer is that it is only a 30 minute boil.  To make this one would be pretty quick.  Also you might see that it has dry yeast as the recommendation.  I generally do this with session beers because it’s odd to me to buy yeast that would cost about half of recipe (session beers are pretty cheap to make if you can take out the expense of the yeast), so I would get dry yeast for this one.  It’s still a Belgian style dry yeast.

If you were going to do this one all grain I would read up on a post we did about the no sparge technique.

If you were going to add any other grains to it I would suggest any of these:

  • Honey Malt – this will bring a sweet flavor to it kinda like honey nut
  • Flaked oats – increase the mouthfeel
  • Aromatic – a bit of Belgian smell
  • Caravienna – much like cara munich but lighter.
  • Acidulated malt – gives a tang to the beer

If you were going to add any or all of those grains I would keep it below 8 oz for the total amount of grains.  Not to many specialty grains are needed for this brew just because it is so light, the balance can be thrown off very quickly.  THINK SMALL!

On that note, if you wanted to add spices to it, add them in the last 10-5 min of the boil.  Half or even quarter what you would normally use in a normal batch as well (we’re talking on the lines of .25 oz of coriander/.25 oz orange peel or even less than that).

Again with small beers, balance is key and it  can be thrown off very quickly.  Less is more when it comes to these small beers.

And now up for another Belgian.

Belgian Blonde Ale

4 oz Carapils

4 oz Vienna

4 oz Victory

4 oz Oat

6 lbs Extra Light Dry Malt Extract

8 oz Light Candi Sugar

1 oz Hallertau (60min)

.5 oz Saaz (5min)

WLP 530

OG: 1.062

FG: 1.011

SRM: 6.78

IBU: 23.7

ABV: 6.6%


  1. Heat 2.5 gallons of water up to 150 and steep your grains for 30 min.
  2. Take your grains out, add your dme/sugar and bring up to a boil
  3. In the beginning of your boil add 1 oz of Hallertau hops
  4. Boil for 55min then add .5 oz of Saaz hops
  5. Boil for 5 min
  6. Kill heat, cool down, fill up to 5 gallons pitch yeast
  7. Primary – 7-14 days
  8. Bottle -21 -35 days

Why Would You Do That…?

With a 6.6% ABV you really don’t have to wait too long for it to sit in the bottles.  You will find a lot of Belgian brews to be around 7% or 8% which is I guess to style, but when you have brews that big I typically recommend them to sit in bottles not measured by weeks but by months.  The reason is, they tend to taste, “Hot”. You really start to see that when it comes around the 7.5% mark and you drink it with the timing to a, “normal” ale.   Having this one a bit lower in the ABV (not by too much but by enough) means that if you made it now, you can have it ready in the middle of the summer with ease.

As far as the specialty grains that are in this recipe:

  • Cara pils – helps with the head retention
  • Victory malt – gives a biscuit like flavor
  • Vienna – has some bread tones to it
  • Oats – will make it a bit silky
The hops are pretty mellow hops (noble hops are always clutch to use).

If you wanted to make your own Belgian candy sugar we do have a post about it.  Also if you wanted to do this all grain the post for conversion is helpful.

Being 6.6% it would be a pretty good beer to have once the sun starts to set and you are relaxing.  Typically I wouldn’t think of grabbing one of these after mowing the lawn of doing outside yard work in general.   Is it refreshing though? Most defiantly.

Hope you enjoy, and make sure to leave your comments and questions in the space provided below!

Are you brewing any particular beers this summer time?


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