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Old 10-30-2009, 10:53 PM   #1
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Default Adding sugar to save a beer???

Here's a kind of strange thing I've done, and I have no idea of the repercussions. I brewed a beer a few months ago, and was just using the single smack-pack method (I'm better now). I had already began brewing and the smack pack failed, as it was pretty much expired and may have gotten too warm. I'm a 4 hour round trip from my LHBS, so my options were to trash the wort, or get creative. So I pitched with bread yeast.

The beer fermented fine, but the final result is a beer that tastes really odd. It's very dry, and kind of metallic. I tried putting a little sugar in a pint of it, and that seemed to help. So I boiled up about 2 cups of brown sugar and dumped it in the keg today. It seems to have taken the edge off of the beer.

Is this sugar addition going to do anything weird? My beer is kept at about 42-45 degrees, so I don't think there should be much yeast activity. Any thoughts? Has anyone else done this?

Thanks!

-Josh

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Old 10-30-2009, 11:09 PM   #2
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If the yeast are still active, they will ferment the sugar and you'll have super gushy, foamy beer coming from your tap. You might be OK with the temp being so low though...

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Old 10-30-2009, 11:11 PM   #3
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If it was entirely done fermenting it'll probably just sweeten it. However, if there is still yeast in there then you may have dried it out even more if they go to work. My guess is that after a few months that would be a problem though.

If it works for you, then it works. Right?

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Old 10-30-2009, 11:18 PM   #4
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It tasted good when you added the sugar to the beer initially because the sugar didn't ferment yet so when you drank it it tasted sweet. Now that you added more sugar, more than likely it will taste even more dry and even cidery tasting. If you want to "sweeten" an alcoholic fermenting beverage you don't add sugar...why? Because booze of any time is fermented sugar water...the only difference is the TYPE of fermented sugar it is that defines whether it's a beer, wine, cider, mead or liquor.

It's simple, the yeast eats SUGAR, farts co2 and pees flavored alcohol. (well, at least flavorful to us...more than likely yeast pee is about as appealing to yeast as human pee is to us humans )

There are two ways to sweeten an alcoholic beverage without converting sucrose to alcohol. 1)kill off fermentation with a chemical such as camden tablets. Then sweeten with whatever sugar you want (of course then there's a difficulty with bottle carbing then since you killed off the yeast.)

2)The easier method is to add an unfermentable sugar such as Lactose which is in unfermentable type of sugar found in milk. Or you can use an artificial sweetner that too is un fermentable.

So does anyone wonder what creature would like our pee as much as we like yeast pee?

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Old 10-30-2009, 11:20 PM   #5
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So does anyone wonder what creature would like our pee as much as we like yeast pee?
You got me stumped on that one...

But the yeast should be cleared out after a "few months" don't you think? I can't imagine more fermenting after that, especially at that temp. Am I wrong?
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Old 10-30-2009, 11:24 PM   #6
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You got me stumped on that one...

But the yeast should be cleared out after a "few months" don't you think? I can't imagine more fermenting after that, especially at that temp. Am I wrong?
Yeast doesn't "clear out," it maxes it's ability to process sugar into alcohol and then dies, OR if the sugar in the environment goes away or it gets to a temp below it's range, then it goes dormant.

If it goes dormant like between fermentation and bottling time, or if it was stored in a mason jar in the fridge, the minute it finds new food, it wakes up and starts eating again.

I don't know if you know the story of Charlie Papazian's yeast (White Labs "Cry Havoc") or not. He talked about it on basic brewing. The recipes in both Papazian's books, The Complete Joy of Homebrewing and The Homebrewers Companion, were originally developed and brewed with this yeast. Papazian had "Cry Havoc" in his yeast stable since 1983.

He has used it nearly continuously since 83, sometimes pitching multiple batches on top of a cake, sometimes washing or not washing, etc. In a basic brewing podcast iirc last year he talked about how a batch of the yeast after a lot of uses picked up a wild mutation, and he noticed an off flavor in a couple batches.

Now most of us would prolly dump that yeast. Instead he washed it, slanted or jarred it (I can't recall which,)marked it, and cold stored it, and pretty much forgot about it for 10-15 years. He had plenty other slants of the yeast strain, so he left it alone.

Well evidently he came across that container of yeast, and for sh!ts and giggles made a beer with it. Evidently after all those years in storage, the wild or mutated yeast died out leaving behind a few viable cells of the "pure" culture, which he grew back into a pretty hardy strain...which iirc is the culture that White Labs actually used for their cry havoc...because of it's tenacity and survivability.

Yeast IS hardier than most newish brewers wanna give them props for...I mean You can't say that THIS YEAST was stored "properly" and yet, they managed to make a batch of beer with it.

45 million year old yeast ferments amber ale

If we can make beer with that....
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Old 10-30-2009, 11:33 PM   #7
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Thanks to all of you for the help. I guess we'll just see what happens. I was hoping that the low temps would keep the yeast slowed down enough for me to finish this keg. Seeing ass we're having a party this weekend, that may not be a problem. My hope was to make it semi-palatable for the short run and avoid dumping 5 gallons of alcoholic beverage!

Revvy, you mentioned using a campden tablet. I've used these for wine making and maybe for some other fermenting which I won't mention. If I added one to the mix, would it kill off the active yeast? It was my understanding that they somehoe just killed off the bad guys and let the good guys do their job.

Thanks again!

-Josh

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Old 10-30-2009, 11:35 PM   #8
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that article is pretty impressive. I guess I was kind of assuming that the yeast settled out and then he transfered to secondary. But I guess even then there could be some alive...

Learn something new every day.

Thanks for the info Revvy.

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