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Old 10-20-2005, 09:16 AM   #1
Duvel
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Default Using sugar to increase ABV?

I'm a fan of strong ales , around the 8% mark I reckon tastes best. Now I know using sugar (sucrose) instead of malt will result in a lack of body. But malt extract etc is expensive. I could buy 12 kilos of sugar for every kilo of DME here. So I'm just wondering, how bad would it be to say add a kilo of sugar to a brew made up of the following fermentables:
2 Kg DME
1.6Kg LME
500g Crystal malt
(up to 23L / 5 UK gall)
Just to move the abv up a bit? Would it be detrimental in anyway? I mean would you consider the above brew (minus the sugar) to have enough body as it stands? Then the sugar is just adding a bit more alcohol no?

Comments and suggestions to this lowly beginner welcome

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Old 10-20-2005, 02:33 PM   #2
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I haven't done any extract brewing in a while now, but I'll try to answer your question as best as I can. When you say sugar, I am assuming that you mean common table sugar. Adding common table sugar to a brew usually adds a cidery taste in the finished product.

DISCLAIMER - Next part, I am unsure on, so take it with a grain of salt

I think that the cidery taste comes from the fact that sucrose is a complex sugar and when the yeast breaks it down, it leaves a simple sugar (dextrose?) that gives the cidery taste.

OK, back to normal advice -

Depending upon your brew and the amount of sugar, you may or may not notice the flavor. In your example, I think you'd probably notice the flavor of a full Kilo of sugar. Certain belgian beers (high ABV) use Candy sugar and I think you can make that yourself from regular sugar (again, unsure on this) but you might check that out.

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Old 10-20-2005, 02:40 PM   #3
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Adding sugars will also result in a drier taste with less body. Not that that's a bad thing, necessarily. I recently did a Dogfish India Nut Brown that used (I believe) 8oz of brown sugar carmelized and added to the mash. It came in right at 8% and I really enjoy it. Only problem is I can't drink as many as I'd like.

You could brew your recipe both ways and see if the additional dryness/alcohol affects the flavor in a detrimental way, or if it improves it for you. In fact, I suppose you could divide the recipe into two fermenters and add the extra sugar (proportionally) to just one.

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Old 10-20-2005, 02:45 PM   #4
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some other sugars you might want to try out instead of regular suger is molasses. i put this in an imperial stout of mine and it worked great!!! maybe also try corn syrup. just look around, there are lots of sugars besides plain white sugar!!! i've even seen corn sugar with brown sugar added.

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Old 10-20-2005, 02:48 PM   #5
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I've read the less refined the sugar the more body it will add to the beer due to unfermentables.

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Old 10-20-2005, 03:09 PM   #6
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Happy Birthday Orfy.

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Old 10-20-2005, 03:25 PM   #7
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As had been mentioned, adding table sugar will result in a drier, lighter beer.

Note that adding Table Sugar (Sucrose) and bringing it to a lengthy boil (your 60+ minutes) breaks it down at least partially, producing Invert Sugar. Note that the pH levels of the wort aid in the break down (hydrolysis). To imitate candy sugar additions, try increasing your boil times to allow for some caramelizing of the wort to take place.

From the best I can tell, the cidery taste isn't directly from sugar itself, but the yeasts' reaction / fermentation of it. Table sugar will typically ferment fully, but is lacking in pretty much any additional nutritional value to the yeasties.

Here's a reference: http://brewery.org/brewery/library/SugarSumm.html

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Old 10-20-2005, 03:43 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by orfy
I've read the less refined the sugar the more body it will add to the beer due to unfermentables.
Whats an example of an unrefined suger I can buy, I didnt pay much attention in science.
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Old 10-20-2005, 03:50 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OtherWhiteMeat
Whats an example of an unrefined suger I can buy, I didnt pay much attention in science.
Turbinado sugar is one...I've seen a few recipes that use it.
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Old 10-20-2005, 03:58 PM   #10
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Would maple syrup be considered unrefined since the only processing is boiling? I've seen quite a few recipes using maple syrup.

Actually...that gives me a notion. My brother-in-law has a friend whose family owns Espolon Tequila. We toured their distillery in Tequila once and part of the process is roasting the 'pineapple' from the agave plant to caramelize the sugars which are then extracted for tequila production. He broke some off (sort of fibrous) for us to chew on and it tasted very much like molasses/brown sugar. I might have to try to acquire some of that for a cerveza de tequila...

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