Small Beer Experiment- British 2% Beer

Sixteenth Century England. Putting hops in beer has been around for a couple centuries now. Hops, having become wildly popular in the fourteenth century to balance malty sweetness and for increasing the shelf life of beers in the days before refrigeration, have almost completely replaced their predecessor, gruit, as the bittering agent in beer.  Country estate breweries are becoming more successful due to increasingly arcane tax codes imposed on commercial breweries. These estate breweries brewed many beers that we would recognize today, or, at least, would be able to associate with a modern style. "Table Beer" was an average strength (for the time, a bit above average these days) of 5-6%, "October" and "March" beers were stronger at 8-10%, and "Double Beers" were seriously jacked at 13% and higher. These beers, if they don't have direct modern equivalents, at least can be compared to beers we know in terms of strength. From Pale Ales at the low end, to Double IPAs, Imperial Stouts, and Barley Wines pushing the top end of the scale. We are all familiar with beers like this.

A fourth type of beer was also common on these estates, made in such abundance, it was part of the wages paid to laborers on the estate and was freely available like water - the Small Beer, at 2-3%, it's more like a soft drink than a beer! It also has basically no modern parallels, you've probably never had a beer that had such a low alcohol level, even though the likes of Bud Light are constantly pushing the envelope on weakness. Well, we've never tried one. So without even the slightest idea of whether or not this is gonna be any good, here goes nothing! The next in the Intrigue SMaSH Series. The Small SMaSH.

  • 2.4% Alcohol - sugar from 5 lbs of Washington Select - our SMaSH malt

  • 20 IBUs from half an oz. Amarillo hops - our SMaSH hop

  • American Ale Yeast. This is different from the lager yeast you might use in a low alcohol beer. Here's hoping this beer gets some ale attitude.

This beer is a total crap-shoot experiment. I am hopeful but realistic about what it will be like. With any luck it doesn't just taste like watered down beer, though that might be exactly what we want from it. Something light and easy to drink without all the extra rice and corn that gives bud light it's unique taste. Or maybe ABInBev knows what they're doing and this is a pointless exercise! As always, there is something to be learned in every brew.   

Thanks for reading! Did you enjoy the mini-history lesson in this post? Tell me about it and I may get more in depth in the future. Beer history is super Intriguing!