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Old 10-28-2009, 02:07 PM   #1
k1200rsvt
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Default What makes a beer sweet (not dry)?

This may be out there someplace, but I tried searching with no success.

I am trying to understand what makes a beer taste sweet. Specifically I have had a few doppelbocks and Stone Russian Imperial Stock lately and they tasted very sweet. I'm actually not a fan of the sweet taste so I am trying to figure out what makes it happen so I don't replicate it. I know it is a high final gravity, but what causes these beers to finish out that way? Is the alcohol stopping the yeast before they finish fermenting the sugar? If so, why does an Imperial IPA with the same alcohol not taste sweet? Different yeast? Is there something specific that is done to get this flavor? Any advice you all have would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.



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Old 10-28-2009, 02:35 PM   #2
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you can mash the grain high like 156-158 the resulting sugars are not as fermentable as the sugars that come from a 152° mash. Some malts are sweeter than others and lend a malty mouth feel not really sweet but you perceive it as such and finally you can add lactose it will sweeten the beer as its unfermentable.



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Old 10-28-2009, 02:57 PM   #3
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Sweet stouts likely have lactose or maltodextrin added (see Body Bru) which are sugars that won't ferment out so they leave a sweet flavour behind. I'm lactose intolerant so I always sub Body Bru for recipes that ask for it.

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Old 10-28-2009, 03:05 PM   #4
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As far as I know different mash temperatures extract more/less fermentable sugars.

Also some malts have less fermentable sugars.

For instance I used to think using crystal malt kicked my gravity up a lot because of the high levels of sugars in it.
I didn't realize until recently that the sugars in crystal malt are much less fermentable than other sugars.
So crystal malt will bring your OG up but leave you with a higher FG, and therefore, a sweeter, less alcoholic beer.

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Old 10-28-2009, 03:12 PM   #5
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Additionally to all those excellent reasons already posted, it is also a product of the hopping regimen. If you look at this chart you can see that for each gravity of a beer, you can hop in a range that will leave your beer extremely bitter, to extremely sweet/malty.



As you can see for this great question there are a ton of different variables that come into play, and it really comes down to each individual recipe. You can control the amount of unfermentables by the mash time or temp, add an unfermentable sugar such as lactose, or mess with the ibus in the hopsbill and alter the level of sweetness.

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Old 10-28-2009, 05:42 PM   #6
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IPAs are high bitterness and low maltiness/non-fermentables.
RISs are just the reverse.

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Old 10-28-2009, 05:46 PM   #7
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Are you confusing sweet for malty? There's a difference, a doppleboch should be very malty not sweet. On the other hand i've had some 10% barleywines that were sickening sweet, not at all malty.

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Old 10-28-2009, 05:58 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wildwest450 View Post
Are you confusing sweet for malty? There's a difference, a doppleboch should be very malty not sweet. On the other hand i've had some 10% barleywines that were sickening sweet, not at all malty.
I think I might confuse sweet and malty. Isn't it the unfermented sugars in the malt that are making it sweet? I would expect a "malty" taste to be close to what malt extract tastes like which is slightly sweet.
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Old 10-28-2009, 06:03 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wildwest450 View Post
Are you confusing sweet for malty?
It is definitely possible that I am confusing the two. I am not sure.

Not sure if any of you have had these to chime in opinions, but here are my observations:

Celebrator Doppelbock - Very enjoyable slightly "sweet" but not to the point of being a detraction.

Samuel Adams Doublebock - Very "sweet" and slightly syrupy. Drinkable but not enjoyable.

Samichlaus - Very, very "sweet" and syrupy. Not drinkable.

Stone Imperial Russian Stout - Slightly "sweet". Detracted from my enjoyment compared to most stouts.

The Stone is the only RIS I have had so I am not sure if it is common character of RIS's or not. I am definitely a stout fan, one of my favorite styles, so I thought I would love the Stone RIS, but was sadly disappointed.

Thanks for all the comments so far, they are very helpful in sorting out recipe options and understanding my brewing more.
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Old 10-29-2009, 04:14 AM   #10
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I think you will find this thread interesting: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f36/anyone-mash-ipa-160-a-132891/

The poster jamilz is Jamil Zainasheff



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