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Old 09-24-2012, 02:42 AM   #1
runt23
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Default Fermentable Sugars

Feeling really new right now.

I am used to making beer with beer kits (i.e. coopers) and the directions would say to mix the extract with fermentable sugars yada yada yada..

I have recently purchases some pale diastatic LME, some grains, hops, and yeast. I am wondering - do I still need to add sugars? I have been looking at recipes but I never see anything about adding sugars like I did with the kits. Is the extract in the kits non-diastatic malt and it needs the sugar to ferment?

Anyway, I am feeling really new here even though I have a couple batches under my belt.

Help is appreciated!
Thanks

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Old 09-24-2012, 03:45 AM   #2
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While you may be feeling "really new" at the moment, the kits you have been using are decidedly old school. For your own reference, most kits today do not require additional sugars (except for priming before bottling). Extracts have advanced by leaps and bounds over the last few decades, as have the knowledge/skills of the average homebrewer. As such, current higher quality malt extracts are all that are needed for award-winning beers. Many kits involve steeping some specialty grains for additional flavor/color, but generally full conversion is not needed (actually pointless for the darkest roasty malts). These days, it's a rare homebrewer who even knows about diastatic LME, let alone one who has actually brewed with it. Regular LME is just fine and adding the diastatic LME after soaking your extra grains isn't going to help conversion.

Current recipes generally only call for sugars in three cases - (1) Belgian beers call for Belgian Candi sugar; (2) specialty sugars (dememera, honey, turbinado, molasses, maple syrup, etc.) add specialty flavors/colors/aromas; (3) sugars can be used in place of malts or extracts to reduce body and thin/dry out a beer. As mentioned, diastatic malt is rarely used (almost all DME/LME is NON-diastatic) and is an aid in starch/sugar conversion, not anything to do much with the fermenting. You can trust the recipes you find (generally), but be sure to pay attention to any procedures mentioned in the instructions.

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Old 09-24-2012, 11:42 AM   #3
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Thanks for your reply.

The place I purchase it from has it listed as "Pale Diastatic Liquid Malt Extract". Do you think this would be the case?

They only have 3 extracts listed. The other two are light dry malt extract and dry wheat extract.

From what I read from your post, I feel like I just wasted money on diastatic LME. Or will this be fine to brew with too?

Thanks again

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Old 09-24-2012, 12:09 PM   #4
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It should work fine for your purposes....next time, though, I'd save the $ and go with the light DME. Supporting your LHBS is always nice, but if they don't carry what you need, then it's time t consider ordering online and paying some shipping...

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Old 09-24-2012, 01:01 PM   #5
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So I wouldn't need any dextrose because I will be kegging it? Thanks for your help! I appreciate it.

EDIT: I really am just wondering if it will effect the taste or ABV. I am considering picking up some DME instead, but the price is 5.75/LB compared to 2.85/LB.

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Old 09-24-2012, 03:17 PM   #6
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It really depends on what you are trying to brew.

Dextrose adds no flavor, no color, no body, no head (whereas extracts will add to all of them) - it ferments pretty much completely and does little other than add to your ABV. It is usually used in recipes as a substitute for grain or extract when the beer would end up too dark or with more body than desired (i.e. you want a lower FG). The process of making malt extracts (dry or liquid) involves an evaporative step that essentially cooks the wort for you (100% extract recipes really don't require boiling to work, except for the matter of hopping). Like boiling your wort, this darkens the extract.

Back when the Coopers+sugar kits appeared in the late 60s/early 70s, people wanted to brew light beers similar to Ballantine, Stroh's, PBR, and Schlitz (basically the SLIGHTLY more flavorful but very light colored forerunners of Coors, Miller, and Bud). This was also still a time of American pride (Vietnam not withstanding) and "all-American" homogenous products like Wonder Bread were a source of both comfort and national pride - people simply didn't want abeer that looked or tasted European. Thus, lighter color and lighter malt flavors were desired in homebrewing and using a large proportion (often 50%!!!!) of sugar (of course, it was usually table sugar then) was considered the best way to achieve this.

Modern tastes are quite different and homebrewers revel in all sort of dark and flavorful beers - and knowledge of the details of brewing has advanced by leaps and bounds. Achieving lighter color with extract recipes is currently done by adding a little extract at the start of the boil to aid in hopping and the bulk is added close to flameout (i.e. end of boil). This allows the extract to avoid further darkening in the boil, yet retain the full flavor of the malts (and avoid the classic "cidery" taste from the old sugar-heavy recipes).

Personally, I only add dextrose in a few situations:
1 - If the OG is correct and the FG is higher than I want, I'll substitute some dextrose for grain/lme.
2 - If my OG is too low at the end of my brew day, I may boil some quickly and add it to the chilling wort.
3 - High gravity brews benefit from extra sugars being stepped in during fermentation to ensure the complex sugars get fermented first.
4 - Priming for bottling (although I use honey, maple syrup, or extract almost as often - I've even primed with molasses before).
5 - If mid-brew on a day the LHBS is closed and I'm short on a grain or extract with no good substitute, I MAY use dextrose (but also may wait until the next day and do a mini-mash and mini-boil to add it to the fermentor).
6 - Wines and ciders = totally different ballgame. Dextrose plays better with fruit sugars than grain sugars. (Hops also play a role in the development of the "cidery" off flavors.)

Sooo...............whatcha brewin'?

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Old 09-24-2012, 03:56 PM   #7
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Wow what a wealth of knowledge! I love it.

I am going to be making an amber ale. I am going for something that is not too hoppy or malty, but a nice mix between the two. I already have some crystal 40 and 80 (maybe 120, I cant remember off the top of my head), US-05 yeast 3 different types of hops, and of course the diastatic LME.

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Old 09-25-2012, 01:06 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by runt23 View Post
Wow what a wealth of knowledge! I love it.

I am going to be making an amber ale. I am going for something that is not too hoppy or malty, but a nice mix between the two. I already have some crystal 40 and 80 (maybe 120, I cant remember off the top of my head), US-05 yeast 3 different types of hops, and of course the diastatic LME.
Yeah, I'd forget the dextrose and go with some more extract instead for an amber. The crystals will add some to the body, but a good amber ale shouldn't be thinned out too much and the extra flavor (and color!) from some extract will help fill it out and give it a little "chewiness". If you haven't done a brew yet without a large amount of dextrose, an amber is a great choice to step into an all-grain-based recipe. I suspect you will be pleasantly surprised at how much more "full" your brew looks, smells, and tastes and won't want to go back to dumping in big bags of sugar.....
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SERVING: Gryffon's Talon, Tavernacle
CONDITIONING: Ancient Queen Elderberry Mead
FERMENTING: Black Imp
SOUR PROGRAM: Misterioux Ayahel, Ommedubbel, Pucker Knight, Lambicus Minimus
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