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Home Brew Forums > Wine, Mead, Cider, Sake & Soda > Mead Forum > Alternative Sweeteners (e.g. Stevia)
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Old 11-12-2008, 11:41 PM   #1
hightest
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Default Alternative Sweeteners (e.g. Stevia)

I've started to notice home brewers looking to use sweeteners other than malt, dextrose / sucrose, and honey (a topic discussed Jan 2004 on another forum).

While on the surface these alternative sweeteners (Stevia, aspartame, etc.) may seem acceptable, I would urge caution in their use in home brew products. One reason is that while the substitute sweeteners add sweetness to certain food products, they are not all that stable when stored in alcoholic and acidic environments - like wine, mead, and cider.

Underscoring that assertion is the outcome of safety assessments that were carried out for Stevia and stevioside in the EU. Presently, these products are not permitted for sale as food (or food ingredients) in the UK or elsewhere within the EU. They must have a good reason for this...

And lastly, I'd offer two comments from actual home brewers about Stevia:

  • I work in a nursery, and we sell Stevia plants in the summer. Needless to say, I've tasted a couple of leaves, and while they do taste sweet and sugary for the first couple of chews, the aftertaste kicks-in fast and strong, and the whole mess stops tasting like sugar very quickly.
  • I tried the Stevia and I can say I am happy I only sweetened two bottles. It is sweet and not much of an after taste. But, to me, it just doesn't taste luscious or have the "fat" taste of sugar or honey.
Certainly experimentation is central to home brewing, but it is also beneficial to be aware of other possibilities. Just be careful...
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Old 11-13-2008, 07:02 AM   #2
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Thanks for that info hightest. As you say on Stevia; must be a good reason.

I did acquire some Stevia at a very friendly price today, had a wee taste and whilst it's sure sweet, didn't discern any off tastes. Still it's great to be forewarned as to stability on the brew front.
I'm still searching for info on the best adjunct for backsweetening, turned up nil adverse so far on lactose. (Guess that should just be nil response, period).

Querying the second of your comments - in your opinion, does lactose add the luscious or 'fat' taste of sugar or honey, please?

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Old 11-13-2008, 07:57 AM   #3
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I don't know about the UK, but here in the US the main reason it's not allowed in food products was greatly due to pressure on the FDA from the artificial sweetener industry. Stevia is sold legally here as a "dietary supplement" (it had previously been used as a sweetner in many sodas, and is used extensively in some countries such as Japan as a sugar substitute) and I've found it works wonders in backsweetening ciders and meads that you want to have sweet and still bottle carbonate. I would happily choose Stevia over Splenda or any other artificial sweetener.

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Old 11-13-2008, 12:32 PM   #4
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I realize that Stevia is use in some counties (like Japan), and do not doubt its ability to sweeten. However, there are unanswered questions that raise a "red flag" when it comes to actually using it in my home brew, especially when other "safe" sweeteners exist.

For me, one of the more concerning unanswered questions is "the extent to which the active component stevioside is metabolised by human gut bacteria and the possible toxicological consequences of such metabolism."

While it does sweeten, I'll not be using (or recommending) it as a substitute for cane / corn sugar, honey, or malt any time soon. YMMV...

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Old 11-15-2008, 02:43 AM   #5
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Another factor to consider is that the sweetness in Stevia does not come from a carbohydrate molecule like fructose or glucose, its a different kind of molecule and the yeast probly wouldnt be able to ferment it.

Although stevia is great stuff, and I grow it in my yard.

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Old 11-15-2008, 03:14 AM   #6
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Yes, well that's the point - a sweetner that cannot be metabolized in the final product.
There are no commercial products produced with stevia that I know of but it is generally available in specialty food stores in Canada.
Personally I find it has a little bit of a bitter aftertaste - I think there is probably some sort of genetic variation in people where some of them may taste the bitterness and others not and that may be one of the reasons that it doesn't have great commercial appeal.

I am really more interested in splenda: which is a bastardized sugar molecule that can't be metabolized by us or by yeast. I find it tastes very much like sugar in things like baked goods and coke zero for instance BUT when I add rum to coke zero it still doesn't taste like a proper rum and coke.

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Old 11-15-2008, 04:02 AM   #7
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Heed Hightest's warnings about mixing sugar substitutes with alcohol. Although it's easy to be complacent and pretend that we know how these chemicals work and that they "must" be safe if they're being sold, there are interesting reactions that take place when alcohol is involved.

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Old 06-13-2011, 08:53 AM   #8
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Default Xylitol: Miracle Sweetener!

Hey Guys,

Have any of you tried Xylitol???

http://www.suite101.com/content/the-...titute-a258085

All natural, low on the glycemic index, tastes just like sugar, and even fights tooth decay.

How can you go wrong?

thedonnie

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Old 06-13-2011, 09:48 AM   #9
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I found splenda to taste horrible, I put it in my tea once and couldn't finish it. Ended up using an aspartame sweetner for those purposes in the end. Have heard good things about zylitol, its just realy expensive!

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Old 06-13-2011, 09:52 AM   #10
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I have read some threads on xylitol. It's apparently very potent and you only need a small amount to sweeten the overall batch.

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