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What is High-Gravity Brewing?

Views: 9     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2022-10-09      Origin: Site

Basic Knowledge Of High Gravity Beer

High-gravity beer is usually called “big beer”, and its body is bold, flavorful, and powerful. From the strong taste and other exaggerated characteristics of high-gravity beer to the generally higher alcohol content (content varies by law and from state to state), everything about high-gravity beer is substantial.

“High gravity” refers to brewing beer with high original gravity (OG). Generally, beer above 1.075 OG is considered high-gravity beer. OG is a measure of fermentable and non-fermentable substances in the wort before fermentation. This is measured after the initial boiling and before the yeast is pitched, and will later be used in conjunction with the final gravity reading to calculate the alcohol content.

A higher OG means that there is a lot of “food” in the wort for the yeast to eat. When yeast eats delicious “food”, they produce alcohol lamp ingredients. Under proper environmental and care conditions, certain yeast strains in high specific gravity wort can produce a large amount of alcohol. This is why “high specific gravity” and “high alcohol content” are synonymous.

Common high-gravity beer styles:

  • Barley Wine

  • Imperial Porter / Imperial Stout

  • Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy

  • Imperial IPA

  • Wheat Wine Ale

  • Barrel-Aged Beer

  • Belgian-Style Golden Strong Ale

Factors To Consider When Brewing With High Gravity

The principle of high-gravity brewing and dilution is not a secret for professional brewers, but it is very difficult for homebrewers who are ready to try this method. There are a few key points to keep in mind before proceeding with high-gravity brewing.

  • Dilution Point

Extract brewers need to be familiar with dilution. Almost every extract brewer will boil the concentrated wort and transfer it to a fermenter with a small amount of water to speed up the cooling of the wort. More water is added later to make up the volume of the final batch.

  • Style Restriction

High-gravity brewing is only recommended when you produce beer with a medium strength or higher. Strong beers such as barley and Doppelbocks depend on all the gravity the brewer obtains from the wort and diluting these beers can be counterproductive. Also, the alcohol tolerance limit of brewer’s yeast means that it is practically impossible to brew ultra-high-concentration beer to dilute and produce high-alcohol finished beer.

  • Dilution Limit

If you have ever visited a large commercial brewery, you can have tasted their delicious undiluted beer samples. There is no doubt that professional brewers can brew good beer, but the flavor of the beer is weakened by diluting with water.

In the commercial brewing industry, the general rule of thumb is that beer can be diluted to 30-40%. If we view this range as a practical limit (and an extreme case that most of our brewers hope to avoid), then we can imagine that adding less water will have little effect on the final product. Through proper formula change, adding 10% water to beer does not have a great influence on beer, but it will significantly improve your production level.

  • Good Water Makes Good Beer

The water used to dilute the beer must be sterile and free of other unwanted elements including chlorine, oxygen, and possible minerals. The oxygen in the water will oxidize the compounds in the finished beer, shorten the shelf life and cause odors. Boiling can effectively strip oxygen from water. In principle, carbonated water is the best water for diluting beer, because it does not contain oxygen and will not dilute the carbonic acid in beer. Be sure to read the label carefully, because some carbonated water contains sweeteners, salt, or other undesirable ingredients. If the beer is fermented again in a bottle or keg to achieve carbonation, carbonated water is not needed.

  • Other Matters Needing Attention

High-gravity brewing requires a higher amount of raw material components, which has matched the characteristics of normal brewing beer-more malt, more hops, and more yeast. High-gravity brewing also brings new problems to winemakers. Studies have shown that high-gravity beer has poor foam retention regardless of whether it is diluted or not, compared with normal-gravity beer. Also, the high gravity environment will reduce the use of hops and cause the yeast strains to perform poorly. The color of the high-gravity beer is usually dark, and the color may need to be adjusted. Fortunately, the brewer can solve these problems by adjusting the formula.

Advantages And Disadvantages Of High-Gravity Brewing


  • High-gravity brewing can reduce the water consumption of the winery, and can meet the increased production demand without expanding the existing brewing, fermentation, and storage equipment.

  • When processing a small amount of wort and beer and maintaining a constant liquid output, can also improve energy efficiency.

  • High-gravity brewing can also provide greater flexibility in the types of beer available for sale. Brewers can produce many different products with different original extracts and alcohol content from a single high-strength beer, and there is no need to maintain a separate inventory for each beer type.

  • Also, with the emergence of hop extracts, malt extracts, syrups and natural pigments produced with carbon dioxide and ethanol as solvents, the range of marketable beer types has been further expanded.


  • Because of the use of higher concentrations of wort, brewhouse’s production efficiency (the efficiency of extracting soluble materials from malt and other grains) is reduced.

  • Also, the utilization rate of hops will decrease during the boiling of the wort, and the final diluted beer exhibits lower foam stability, and may even experience changes in beer flavor.

  • A higher concentration of wort and increased ethanol content may affect the performance of yeast strains.

  • High-gravity brewing is not a difficult brewing technique, but yeast must be handled carefully because it will work in a more stressful environment.

Although high-gravity brewing has negative effects (influences on beer stability, flavor matching, hop utilization, etc.), it has more positive effects (improving brewing capacity, reducing utility costs, and fermentation per unit The extract contains more alcohol, improves physical and flavor stability).

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