Presenter: Andreas Gahr, Hopfenveredlung St. Johann GmbH & Co. KG, St. Johann, Germany. Coauthor(s): Adrian Foster, HVG Hopfenverwertungsgenossenschaft e.G., Wolnzach, Germany.
Alcohol legislation in the U.S. and the EU is getting more strict. Especially in the EU, the legal alcohol limits are increasingly questioned, and an EU-wide blood alcohol limit of 0.0/mL is under discussion. This may cause severe problems for breweries. Rarely are alcohol-free beers (in the EU < 0.0–0.5% ABV, depending on country) a tasty alternative. Low-alcohol beers (<1.2% ABV), a beer category that is not very popular yet, may have the possibility to fill the gap. In several brewing trials at the Research Brewery St. Johann, a recipe has been developed for a high-quality low-alcohol beer using stopped fermentation and specific hopping regimes. The beers were produced with different levels of iso-α-acids (10–15 mg/L) and late additions of aroma pellets from 1 to 3 g/L. It could be shown that especially the use of aroma hops is able to widely compensate for the sensory defects of low-alcohol beers. Comprehensive beer analyses demonstrated in which degree positive non–iso-α-acid bitter components, aroma components, and polyphenols were transferred from aroma hops to beer. Sensory results, verified by a panel of more than 40 people, showed that the sensory properties of the low-alcohol beers at different bitter levels were improved remarkably. The beers showed also a good flavor stability.
Andreas Gahr was trained on the job as a brewer and maltster at the Augustiner Brewery, Munich, Germany. He received a brewmaster degree from the Technical University Munich-Weihenstephan in 1994 and worked for another four years at the university for the Chair of Brewing Technology I. Since 1998 Andreas has been the head of the Research Brewery St. Johann, which belongs to the hop processing company of Hopfenveredlung St. Johann GmbH & Co. KG and deals with all kinds of hop-related brewing trials and product development, as well as technological and raw material trials for suppliers and the brewing industry. In 2010 he received, together with his coauthors, the MBAA Inge Russell Best Paper Award.