Monday, January 17, 2011

UnderWired: How low can you go?

Yesterday we brewed what I will bluntly classify as one of the most radical NZ beers of 2010 (a title I am pretty sure will stand until Yeastie Boys release their "Rex Attitude" in a couple of months).

So what is this radical beer? A barrel aged quadrupel imperial IPA, weighing in at an IBU of 200 and abv so high you can't even measure it? No, it is quite the opposite actually. It is a 2% abv, anti-imperial ordinary IPA (I made that up, I don't even know where to begin describing the style of this beer).

The reason I think this is so radical is that I don't think it has been done to this extend in NZ before: A flavour packed, low alcohol beer, a mini IPA if you would. The most radical part is that I used 66% crystal malt, where "normal" brewing advise is to use no more than 10-20%. This should bring flavour without a lot of fermentable sugars, which in turn will give a lot of body and less alcohol. Likewise, the before mentioned "Rex Attitude" will use 100% Peated Distilling Malt, where "normal" brewing advise would be to use no more than 5%. Now that is radical brewing!

I brewed a test batch before Christmas and it turned out pretty decent. So decent that I almost finished the 20 litre keg in one weekend while working in the garden. There were a few tweaks to be made but all in all it was promising. Normally I would have brewed another test batch before going commercial but I figured I had to get this out to the public while the weather is still scorching, so I just went ahead and brewed it.

For the brewers and other geeky readers some stats are:

Original Gravity: 1.029 (about half the size of ReWired)
Finishing Gravity: Time will tell but I am hoping for 1.014 which will give 2% abv
IBU: 20 (about half of ReWired)
Hopping rate: About 9 g/L (a bit more than ReWired and about half of HopWired)
Hops: NZ Pacifica and US Athanum. I may dryhop with a bit more Pacifica and some Centennial.

The challenge I put to myself was to brew a beer under 2.5% abv (which is the excise threshold for low alcohol beer) and pack in enough flavour for it to be considered an 8 Wired beer. It should hit the taps in a few weeks and then you can see for yourself if we succeded the challenge. So far it will only be available on tap.

Oh, the name of the beer is UnderWired. This was coined by local Marlborough beer guru Geoff Griggs about a year ago, when he suggested we made a low alcohol beer of that name. I'm pretty sure he was kidding at the time, but here it is. Cheers Geoff!


  1. Susan was a fan of Harrington's SobeRing Thought while pregnant. Negligible alcohol, but tasty. They brewed it for LOTR bar scenes.

    Will look forward to seeing yours around.

    Oh: Enjoyed your Big Smoke recently.

  2. Finally tried this on the weekend and was impressed. First low alcohol beer that I would be happy to drink if out socializing but wanted to drive!