Mike's Excellent Zero Carb Beer Adventure 🍺


(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #1

This topic arose because of this one:

I don’t like hops and especially don’t like hyper-hopped IPA beers, so I wasn’t much interested in Carl’s recipe. In addition, here in Canada each province has it’s government ‘liquor branch’ that controls all sales of alcoholic beverages and inflates prices. One might think to discourage consumption, but alas it’s only to derive revenue. That’s not the issue, though. Liquor is expensive here. So it doesn’t make sense to me to use a relatively expensive whiskey like Jameson to make what is most likely to be mediocre beer. I’d rather just drink the Jameson, although it’s out of my price range except maybe once a year.

I do like beer and ale and have been a home brewer all my adult life so I thought I’d give this challenge a try. I think brandy is probably a better choice for the base alcohol in terms of colour, flavour and price so I decided that this: Stock - 84 V.S.O.P., is a good starting point.

As I experiment I will report on my results. My overall goal is to produce a 5% ABV beer with the flavours, mouthfeel, body and head retention of a good quality high-carb beer or ale - with zero carbs.

Notes:

  1. I have a manual ‘forced carbonation’ system I built for beer brewing that enables me to carbonate 2-liter PET bottles. It utilizes a 20lb CO2 tank, original Carbonator connectors and a modified bicycle CO2 cartridge emergency tire inflator to connect to PET bottles. This system enables me to agitate the PET bottles while carbonating to help dissolve the CO2. So I’m using plain filtered tap water, as I did for all my beers.

  2. My initial goal is primarily to develop flavour.

  3. Subsequent goals are to develop body, mouthfeel and head

:beer:


White Claw (hard seltzer)
2,220 days...and all is well
(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #2

Experiment #1

Base:

Other stuff:

Results:

  1. Too little coffee. Will try 40 gr next time. I want to taste coffee, a little, and darken the beer.

  2. Too little vanilla. Will try 15 gr next time. Also, the PC vanilla extract caused cloudiness. So I’ll look for another brand that is clear. Possibly Watkins so I’ll check.

  3. Too much orange. Probably 5gr would suffice. It adds a very nice flavour, but at 10gr it overwhelms both the coffee and vanilla flavours.

  4. I added the Collagen to give the beer some protein for head development. It works, but needs something more to retain the head longer. I bought some guar gum but did not use it in this test.

  5. The overall taste of this first test batch was actually not bad. Not enough taste - something similar to a ‘malt liquor’ like Colt 45 - and not much mouthfeel. Carbonation was OK, could be better, but head retention was very short, more like a ginger ale ‘head’ than a beer head.


(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #3

In preparation for experiment #2 I went to my local Loblaws City Market and bought a bottle of Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla.

When I checked out, the cashier asked what I was going to make with it. I don’t know how carefully she read the label but she was clearly surprised by my answer: “Beer”.

:beer:


(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #4

Experiment #2

Base:

Other stuff:

Notes:

  1. The guar gum is extremely difficult to dissolve into water. A bit easier after warming the water, but still had some small coagulants. I’ll see what happens under pressure and agitation in the bottle.

Results:

[Nov 19, 2019, 9:30 pm]

  1. Too little coffee. There are no noticeable coffee flavours, although the beer is a little darker. I’ll try 60 gr next time. I suspect that ultimately, there will be a lot of coffee in this, but I’ll increase gradually with each test.

  2. Too little vanilla, but getting close. I’ll try 20 gr next time.

  3. Orange is about right! The orange adds just enough fruitiness that it actually tastes like an ale.

  4. Not sure about the Coffee Booster collagen. I’ll try 10 gr next time to see if that makes any difference to head formation and/or retention.

  5. Guar Gum is as much as I’m going to use. It didn’t do much for head retention, but it did add some flavour, body and mouthfeel. Unfortunately, the added flavour is not a ‘beer’ type flavour, more of a ‘bread’ type flavour. The added body and mouthfeel, however, are quite good and I like them enough to keep this in the mix. I think additional vanilla and coffee will mask the bread taste.

  6. Overall, the taste is moving in the right direction. Head formation and retention not so much. Carbonation is adequate. This actually tastes good! It’s very refreshing and ‘light’. The 5% ABV arrives on cat’s paws!

In the bottle under 36 psi:


(Tyler) #5

Using the coffee, are you hoping for a stout/porter style keto beer?


(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #6

@HeyCoach I only want enough coffee to add some complement to the vanilla. It would be nice to add some colour as well.


(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #7

Experiment #2 results:

[Nov 19, 2019, 9:30 pm - added as an edit to comment #4]

  1. Too little coffee. There are no noticeable coffee flavours, although the beer is a little darker. I’ll try 60 gr next time. I suspect that ultimately, there will be a lot of coffee in this, but I’ll increase gradually with each test.

  2. Too little vanilla, but getting close. I’ll try 20 gr next time.

  3. Orange is about right! The orange adds just enough fruitiness that it actually tastes like an ale.

  4. Not sure about the Coffee Booster collagen. I’ll try 10 gr next time to see if that makes any difference to head formation and/or retention.

  5. Guar Gum is as much as I’m going to use. It didn’t do much for head retention, but it did add some flavour, body and mouthfeel. Unfortunately, the added flavour is not a ‘beer’ type flavour, more of a ‘bread’ type flavour. The added body and mouthfeel, however, are quite good and I like them enough to keep this in the mix. I think additional vanilla and coffee will mask the bread taste.

  6. Overall, the taste is moving in the right direction. Head formation and retention not so much. Carbonation is adequate. This actually tastes good! It’s very refreshing and ‘light’. The 5% ABV arrives on cat’s paws!

I plan to order some Gum Arabic (Acacia Gum powder) from a supplier in Washington state. Gum Arabic was one of the ingredients used traditionally to build and retain a head. In the meantime I’m going to visit one of our local brewing supply stores to buy some hops and see what they have in head retention adjuncts. Yes, hops. I think maybe a little hop content may help with head retention. Not enough to make it bitter!


(Jane) #8

I am following this thread with interest since my husband used to brew beer also. I only brewed mead/wine but haven’t had time since I took a job with a lot of travel but I always enjoyed helping him with his beer brewing.


(Jane) #9

I know you aren’t really “brewing” anything, but are you just mixing everything together or what is your process?


(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #10

My first experiences with brewing were at the Univ of Maine in Orono in the mid-60s. At the time Maine had a top-notch agricultural college (maybe still does). Every fall from late Sept through Oct, the ag students sold apple cider in one gallon glass jugs. I was informed, unofficially of course, that if I set my jug of cider on the window sill of my dorm room for about a week or 10 days it would magically transform itself into ‘hard’ cider. And indeed it did! From that inauspicious beginning I moved on to mead, eventually beer and ultimately braggot, the happy marriage of mead and beer. One of the most popular beverages of the European Middle Ages - and mine!


(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #11

Correct, it’s a mix not a brew. But it’s similar to using malt extract instead of malting your own grains. Someone else, the folks who produce Stock 84, did the grunt work to provide the ethanol. But the end beverage is my creation!


(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #12

In preparation for Experiment #3, I started a 1 liter cold brew in my Bodum french press. That’s 33 gr of Tim Hortons Dark Roast ground coffee in 1000 gr of water. I added 25 gr of shaved orange peels and 20 gr of Madagascar Bourbon. I’m going to let it brew for 24 hours.

Instead of adding coffee to the brew mix 20 grams at a time, I decided just to go for 500 gr to see what happens. Also, my previous test batches were very cloudy and I determined that the addition of vanilla extract to the coffee creates the cloudiness. So I decided for Exp #3 to add the vanilla to the coffee brew mix and maybe the cloudiness will either settle out with the coffee grounds or get filtered out when I pour the mix through a double paper filter. So, I’ll find out. I decided to use orange peels for #3 instead of orange extract again just to see what happens.


(Melanie Pietkivitch) #13

Anxious to hear how this turns out. Wish I could taste test!


(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #14

Experiment #3 [Nov 22, 2019, 8 pm]

Base:

Other stuff:

Notes:

  1. I should have added 40 gr of vanilla to the coffee, since I only used half the brewed coffee I only got half the vanilla (i.e. 10 gr instead of the 20 gr I wanted), so don’t think the vanilla is going to be noticeable.

  2. I brewed the coffee too long and it has a slight bitter edge. Nothing like adding hops! But next time I will either use less coffee or less brew time.

  3. The orange peel added noticeable flavour to the coffee, but not as much as the orange extract.

  4. I decided to use unflavoured gelatin instead of guar gum. It dissolved much easier. It also made the beer cloudy. It was quite transparent until I added the dissolved gelatin.

  5. This is encouraging. After I filled the PET bottle and pumped in some CO2 there was a bigger head that lasted longer than at this stage of previous tests. When the bottle is full, there is not much head space for CO2 until the beer is chilled to 39°F and the CO2 starts to dissolve.

Results:

[Nov 25, 2019, 9:30 pm - added as an edit to comment #14]

  1. Too much coffee! But not by much. Next time I’ll try 400 gr and I think that will be about right. :kissing: There’s a little coffee bitterness, but not as much as I thought there’d be based on the taste of the coffee as brewed. The colour is a nice dark ale tone.

  2. Too little vanilla. As noted originally, I should have doubled this to 40 gr and will do so the next time.

  3. Too little orange. OK, the orange peels didn’t work. So back to extract.

  4. Coffee Booster collagen and gelatin seem to have worked very well together. There’s lots of body and mouthfeel and a very nice head that lasted just as long as any beer head I’ve ever made!

  5. Overall, everything is moving in the right direction. Aside from the somewhat overtly coffee flavour, this is tasting quite good.Filtering the brewed coffee through a nylon micro-filter and two paper filters:


(Full Metal Carnivore AF) #15

Have you tried putting the vanilla bean in the alcohol? It might extract more flavor.

:cowboy_hat_face:


(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #16

That’s a whole new ballgame! Don’t think I’m going down that road any time soon. Quality extract is readily available, easy to work with and consistent - good enough for what I’m using it for. I’m a beer maker with lots of experience mixing concentrated components, so using extracts appeals to me. I’m not adverse, however, to the idea of adding a bean or two to a bottle of brandy to find out what it does for the taste.


(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #17

Experiment #3 [Nov 22, 2019, 11pm]

The points of the two triangles meet at the 2-liter ‘fill line’ at about 70°F. At the time of this photo the temperature of the beer is about 42°F. Pressure is 36 psi. The liquid level is 3/4 of an inch below the initial fill line. Foam from the last CO2 charging fills the head space right up to the ring in the bottle neck. This is very good! This is the volume of foam generated by real beer under the same conditions. I find it very encouraging. When I added the coffee into the empty bottle it made a ‘head’ that persisted until I added another liter of water/brandy mix. I also like the colour much more.


(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #18

[Nov 25, 2019, 9:30 pm - added as an edit to comment #14]

  1. Too much coffee! But not by much. Next time I’ll try 400 gr and I think that will be about right. :kissing: There’s a little coffee bitterness, but not as much as I thought there’d be based on the taste of the coffee as brewed. The colour is a nice dark ale tone.

  2. Too little vanilla. As noted originally, I should have doubled this to 40 gr and will do so the next time.

  3. Too little orange. OK, the orange peels didn’t work. So back to extract.

  4. Coffee Booster collagen and gelatin seem to have worked very well together. There’s lots of body and mouthfeel and a very nice head that lasted just as long as any beer head I’ve ever made!

  5. Overall, everything is moving in the right direction. Aside from the somewhat overtly coffee flavour, this is tasting quite good.


(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #19

Collagen/gelatin foam rings on the beer mug:

One significant feature of the forced carbonation system I built is that it enables me to recarbonate PET bottles as the contents are consumed. So, the last drop is just as carbonated as the first. Here’s the PET bottle recharged to 36 psi after I drank tonight’s samples:


(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #20

[Nov 28, 2019, 9:00 pm]

In preparation for Experiment #4, I started a 450ml cold brew in my Bodum french press. That’s 16gr of Tim Hortons Dark Roast ground coffee in 450 gr of water. I added 5 gr of Watkins Pure Orange Extract and 20 gr of Madagascar Bourbon. I’m going to let it brew for 20 hours. This should give me pretty close to the vanilla and orange concentration I want. I’m going to use 400 gr of this, allowing for the coffee grounds to absorb about 50 gr or so of water.