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Old 09-01-2009, 03:07 PM   #1
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Default Drying out a beer by adding sugar

Ok, I've been seeing threads talking about drying out a beer by adding a pound of sugar. My question is, how does this work? I mean, let's say you mashed high and have lots of unfermentable sugars in the wort, and during the ferment you add some sugar to "dry it out". How does this affect the unfermentables you already have?

I imagine that the yeasts would eat the sugar, and increase the ABV by some amount, but wouldn't you still have the same amount of unfermentables, thereby retaining the sweetness?

Or does the sugar somehow affect the unfermentables, and/or the yeast in some way as to promote the fermentation of those unfermentables and thereby reduce the sweetness?

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Old 09-01-2009, 03:13 PM   #2
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Your line of thinking is correct.

When I talk about using simple sugar to "dry out a beer," I am referring to replacing a grain/malt component with simple sugar at an equal pppg ratio for the recipe, pre-brew and pre-ferment. Therefore, the gravity is consistent, but the simple sugar will ferment out completely, while the malt wouldn't necessarily do that.

However, there is the notion that adding simple sugar to a ferment can re-awaken yeast, and if there are any more fermentable malt-based sugars, they will metabolise these in addition to the simple sugar addition. We all know the perils that sometimes yeast just go dormant during fermentation, even if there are consumables remaining.

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Old 09-01-2009, 03:24 PM   #3
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I think it's more of a comparison thing. A beer with sugar will be comparatively dryer than one without (for the same recipe/OG).

If you use a bunch of crystal and mash at 158, adding some sugar isn't going to make it dry, it'll make it dryER.

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Old 09-01-2009, 05:17 PM   #4
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Correct, dry is, largely, a comparison of residual sugars to alcohol. The residual sugars are the same, but the higher alcohol content reduces your perception of the sugars.

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Old 09-01-2009, 08:27 PM   #5
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Those who have already replied are correct. This is a term that I believe is mis-used a lot. As Psuedochef said, this is correctly used when some of the malt in a recipe is replaced with sugar. This will result if a lower FG, than if all malt had been used. To me the is how Drying Out is best used. It gets to be a slippery slope when people talk about adding it to a fermenting beer that is not dry enough in order to dry it out. What one is really doing is simply boosting the final ABV, so call it that instead. I'd like to see Drying Out used only when the FG is lowered (by design from the get go), not ABV raised with the same FG (attempt at correcting a beer).

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Old 09-02-2009, 05:15 AM   #6
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Just a tip:

I heard Jamil say on one of his podcasts that when fermenting big beers it's best to add the simple sugars to the ferment as the yeast are slowing down. That way, the yeast won't crap out on you.

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Old 09-02-2009, 03:25 PM   #7
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SO, maybe we could say, Boosting the Beer instead of drying it out?

I've heard that same advice on adding during fermentation, and planned on doing that. Makes sense to me. The yeast count is higher.

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Old 09-02-2009, 04:32 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Homercidal View Post
I've heard that same advice on adding during fermentation, and planned on doing that. Makes sense to me. The yeast count is higher.
This thread is definitely not for the nuance-challenged.

It's not simply that the yeast count is higher...

The sugars in the wort out of your kettle make up a spectrum from highly fermentable to less fermentable (obviously the relative fermentability will be a function of yeast type and a slew of fermentation dynamics). Conversely, simple sugars are basically 100% highly fermentable.

What you want to do is get the fermentation going, and I would say almost complete, so you force the yeast to eat the more complex sugars, THEN add simple sugar which the yeast will happily consume (i.e. there's always room for Jell-O).

There is probably a secondary effect where you get the yeast going bonkers again on the simple sugar and they will consume some of the remaining complex sugars as well.
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Old 09-02-2009, 04:48 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sixbillionethans View Post
This thread is definitely not for the nuance-challenged.

It's not simply that the yeast count is higher...

The sugars in the wort out of your kettle make up a spectrum from highly fermentable to less fermentable (obviously the relative fermentability will be a function of yeast type and a slew of fermentation dynamics). Conversely, simple sugars are basically 100% highly fermentable.

What you want to do is get the fermentation going, and I would say almost complete, so you force the yeast to eat the more complex sugars, THEN add simple sugar which the yeast will happily consume (i.e. there's always room for Jell-O).

There is probably a secondary effect where you get the yeast going bonkers again on the simple sugar and they will consume some of the remaining complex sugars as well.
I didn't mean to insinuate that is was as simple as that. I realize that yeasts consume different sugars at different times. In fact, I'm not sure that adding yeasts at the end is a great idea either. It seems that you would want to add it at the time that the yeasts would normally be eating that kind of sugar. IE at the highest level of activity.

I think that having them switch to the more complex sugars then back again to the simple sugars would be worse than just having them eat it when they are busy eating the simple sugars from the wort, then switch and finish the beer.
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Old 09-02-2009, 05:25 PM   #10
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Decent points on the change in cuisine...from simple to complex carbs. I wonder if that has an effect.

Where I disagree with you is due to fact that the yeast are going to be eating lots of simple carbs at the height of fermentation activity. This also coincides with the "ideal" yeast environment (some O2 left, not too much alcohol, pH happy).

My understanding is that yeast eventually quit later in fermentation because:
1) Only more complex sugars are left over. They get lazy and go sleepy instead.
2) Fermentation conditions have degraded (higher pressure/alcohol, lower nutrient levels, poor pH, etc) so yeast get lazy and go sleepy.

So feed them a bunch of simple sugars at the end and they can still wake up and consume them. Conditions may not be perfect, but metabolizing simple sugars is easy.

But if you feed them a bunch of simple sugars in the middle (when they are eating them "naturally") you will make fermentation conditions even worse for later. Alcohol will be higher when the yeast already have to work so hard to ferment the leftover complex sugars. I think this would result in a higher FG rather than lower.

Ex: that DFH 120 IPA is fed with corn sugar late in fermentation. You basically keep adding sugar until the yeast can't eat it anymore and the finished beer starts to get "sweeter".

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