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Old 04-11-2012, 03:20 PM   #1
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Default Belgian Beers, sugar in boil, or sugar after initial fermentation

I imagine this is debated quite a bit. My thought is that Belgian beers, dubbels, Tripels, Strongs, etc that utilize candi sugar needs to have that sugar added to the fermenter after three or four days of active fermentation. Thought being that the simpler sucrose needs to be added after the maltose is gobbled up, creating the flavor profile. If both the sucrose and maltose are present at the same time, the yeast will preferentially gobble the sucrose in the initial fermentation. Given the high OG of most Belgian ales, that leaves a nice chance that you'll have a less than complete fermentation.

But this is a pain in the ass. It throws off my OG calculations if the sugar isn't present at pitching time. I can correct for this, but I'd rather not. Plus, the process of boiling the sugar in water to sterlize everything and then adding it, it's just tedious.

Am I overthinking this. Given that the sugar is only about 10% of the total, if I just added it to the boil and pitched an extra super-duper slug of yeast, wouldn't that alieviate the concern?

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Old 04-11-2012, 03:54 PM   #2
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I add sugar later for three reasons: lower osmotic pressure = happier yeast, and lower gravity = lower pitching rate, so my starters don't need to be as large. I can also adjust the amount of sugar I use based on where my actual OG and FG ended up.

You're right that yeast will preferentially eat simple vs complex sugars. If they eat enough simple sugars, their metabolism will 'switch' and they won't be able to eat maltotriose. If they're healthy enough, they can switch back, so it may not be a big risk provided adequate yeast health.

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Old 04-11-2012, 06:25 PM   #3
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I just take the sugar out of the recipe in my brew softawre to get an OG without the sugar. Add it back in to get the full picture, of oG with sugar and estimated FG.

I do usually add it after a few days of fermentation. I seem to get a few more points of attenuation. This lets the yeast start out eating the more complex sugars of the wort, then a few days later adding the sugar is like desert to the hungry yeast.

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Old 04-12-2012, 02:49 AM   #4
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My only experience with adding sugar later resulted in a stalled fermentation. It stalled at 1.020, which is gross for a Belgian beer. Adding an active 001 starter fixed it, but in the future I'm just going to add my sugar additions during or before the boil.

Note, I added my sugar just as the high krausen phase was ending. That was probably too late. Also, it was with 3787. Oh, and the fermenter blew its top bigtime after I dumped the sugar in.

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Old 04-12-2012, 02:57 AM   #5
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Oh, and the fermenter blew its top bigtime after I dumped the sugar in.
That sounds like the problem to me. Just don't let your fermentor explode.
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Old 04-12-2012, 03:40 AM   #6
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I've successfully added my sugar to the boil multiple times. I've never had stalled- or even slow for that matter- fermentations and I've ended up with dry, delicious Belgian beers. I personally think its easier, and with sufficient yeast its fine. Even if you underpitch (SLIGHTLY), its ok as this will add to the amount of ester production. I wouldn't worry honestly... the yeast knows what to do if you give it good enough conditions (O2, temp since its a belgian)

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Old 04-12-2012, 02:18 PM   #7
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+1 to Mainebrew. 4 Belgians with sugar added to boil. Never a FG above 1.008. Make sure you pitch plenty of yeast and add some yeast nutrient near the end of the boil.

AG can sometimes go lower than extracts. There is a mysterious extract wall with regards to finishing gravity. Never experienced it myself but have heard about it.

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Old 04-12-2012, 07:20 PM   #8
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AG can sometimes go lower than extracts. There is a mysterious extract wall with regards to finishing gravity. Never experienced it myself but have heard about it.
Most extracts contain Carapils or similar.
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Old 04-13-2012, 10:16 AM   #9
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i just did a Belgian Golden Strong Ale, OG 1074 ,I'm @ 4 days today. I should boil the candi syrup with some water? (how much) cool ,dump in, and give a good swirling? or just dump in?

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Old 04-13-2012, 01:18 PM   #10
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I don't think you'll need to swirl. The yeast activity alone should be enough to distribute.

You probably don't even need to bring the syrup to a boil, but it wouldn't hurt. I'd add 2 cups of water to the syrup and get it heated, then cool, then dump.

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