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Old 11-14-2012, 07:20 AM   #1
HughRichardson
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Default Organic Sugar versus standard granulated sugar

Does anyone have experience using the "Organic Sugars" that are on sale in most up-market supermarkets? There are several brands and types offered at about twice the price of regular sugar - but that's not really much when you are using it in 25 litres or so of beer. I have bought some Organic Cane Sugar (which is very light brown and a rather coarser grain than usual stuff) and some Organic Molasses Sugar which is heavy and soft and dark brown.
I have read a few posts that suggest that for primary fermentation, it makes no real difference what type of sugar you use - but it somehow seems still that eliminating chemical additives by going organic ought to have some merits!

My questions are :
1 - Is organic sugar any better for either primary and/or secondary fermentation? (I am mostly brewing English Bitter and Ale type beers)

2 - How much organic sugar is equal to 1 KG of normal white granulated in the process? Something tells me I may need a bit more of it to achieve the same end result, but I have not been able to find any hard info on that.

I have brewed one batch in which I used 1 KG normal white sugar PLUS 250 grams of organic molasses sugar which I am hoping will add a little extra body and alcohol to a batch of Coopers Real Ale (using 1 extra litre of water also)
Anyone have any thoughts to share on this topic?

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Old 11-14-2012, 08:02 AM   #2
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I've used similar products a few times. Done extract batches where I've had about 7lbs extract and up to a couple of lbs Organic Brown Sugar. The darker brown organic cane sugars definitely seem to leave a trace of molasses flavour in the finished product which, I feel, has been good in things like a bitter/ESB. Have used a lighter brown sugar, quite a bit more sparingly (250gr or so), in a couple of IPAs and they worked out fine.

Give it a try and trust your sense and taste.

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Old 11-14-2012, 09:58 AM   #3
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Thanks for that feedback, Ogri. A bit what I suspected would be the case.
If a recipe calls for 1 KG normal granulated white sugar, would you replace with 1 KG of organic sugar or 1.25 KG - or 1.5 even - to get the same alcohol?
I am thinking of trying 1 KG of organic cane sugar (the pale brown stuff) PLUS 250 grams of Molasses Sugar to get that extra bit of flavour you mentioned. How would that sound to you?

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Old 11-14-2012, 10:21 AM   #4
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The chart I use says that granulated sugar is 46 gravity points per gallon and raw sugar (similiar to the organic product) is 43 gp/gal. I think that means you need about an extra 70 grams per kilo to get the same amount of fermentables.

Sugar will of course boost the alcohol, but it won't add body. Sugar is often included to help dry out a beer.

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Old 11-14-2012, 10:33 AM   #5
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I used an organic suar. The light brown corse one. It gave a beautiful fruity flavor. It lacked a bit on strength though. Perhaps being a bit more corse it was a bit more difficult to ferment

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Old 11-14-2012, 02:29 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HughRichardson View Post
If a recipe calls for 1 KG normal granulated white sugar, would you replace with 1 KG of organic sugar or 1.25 KG - or 1.5 even - to get the same alcohol?
I am thinking of trying 1 KG of organic cane sugar (the pale brown stuff) PLUS 250 grams of Molasses Sugar to get that extra bit of flavour you mentioned. How would that sound to you?
I'm afraid my additions weren't very scientifically, or empirically, devised or implemented. Also, I wasn't consciously trying to boost alcohol to the same level as would have been yielded from granulated white sugar. just accepted/anticipated that it might come out a touch lower BUT would maybe have a little more flavour.

Depending on your grain bill, and if the quantity of sugar you are considering using is less than 25% of the total, it could be alright. What is the recipe you are thinking of trying it with?
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Old 11-14-2012, 03:41 PM   #7
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This is not answering any questions posted here, but why are you using sugar in your recipes? You should be using more grain or extract. Adding 1 KG of sugar to a beer like a English Bitter (which you mentioned you usually make) is really out of character.

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Old 11-14-2012, 03:46 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bknifefight View Post
This is not answering any questions posted here, but why are you using sugar in your recipes? You should be using more grain or extract. Adding 1 KG of sugar to a beer like a English Bitter (which you mentioned you usually make) is really out of character.
Because MANY styles of beers call for sugar.

I've brewed historical english bitters that called for sugars, especially darker sugars because they leave some unfermentable flavors.

Here's one from Barclay Perkins from 1910



Fullers 1910 AK
OG 1.045
FG1.009
23bu
~27EBC

*5gals*
3.25lb Maris Otter
3.25lb American 2-row
0.5lb Flaked maize
0.67lb pale treacle (golden syrup)
0.50lb #2 invert sugar
0.25oz C150 caramel coloring

Mash: 151F x 1.5hours

And here's another one From Barclay Perkins for Truman's No 6 Mild Ale that uses 5.5% sugar.


There's NOTHING wrong with using sugar. The issue is when folks use too much sugar. Too much sugar, in a recipe can give off off flavors, or make a beer cidery, but we're talking about someone who wants to bump up the alcohol on his 6 pounds of extract beer by adding another 6 pounds of table sugar to it.

That whole thing about not adding sugar or else you make "cidery" beer is one of those little "chestnuts" that noobs repeat without thinking deeper about it. When we talk about it being a bad thing, is when the ration of sugar to malt quite high, like frat boys trying to bump up their coopers can...yeah that's a bad thing...but we're not talking about that in most cases, we're talking about an acceptable brewing process for many styles of beer...

I mean do you like Belgian beers? Are they "cidery?" Are they crappy tasting because of the simple sugars that are added? If you like them, that's how they achieved the beer you like.

Belgian beers are a style that are supposed to have simple sugars in it. It raises the abv, but it also cuts down on some of the body, promotes the formation of certain flavors and helps dry the beer out.

Adding sugars traditionally are a way of upping the ABV without boosting the body. They also can thin out a heavier bodied beer. And dry it out.

If you are trying to make a high gravity beer if you used all grain you'd have a thick and heavy beer.

The easiest comparison to make is the difference between a Barleywine and a Belgian Dark Strong Ale. They are pretty close in color, ibus and gravity, but since the Belgian beer replaces some of the grain with sugars it's a thinner, more refreshing finish....where the barleywine is almost like a liqueur.

A pound or two isn't going to affect the beer in a negative way, especially if the recipe calls for. Even a cooper's which people want to deride, or some others suggest replacing with malt extract, is really meant to have exactly the amount of sugar the recipe might call for. But if you willy nilly add a couple more pounds to it, that's another story.
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Old 11-14-2012, 03:49 PM   #9
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1 KG of sugar in a (assuming) 5 gallon recipe for an English Bitter (OG: 1.032 – 1.040) is too much, is it not?

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Old 11-14-2012, 03:57 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bknifefight View Post
1 KG of sugar in a (assuming) 5 gallon recipe for an English Bitter (OG: 1.032 – 1.040) is too much, is it not?
I depends on the recipe and whether or not it exceeds 30% of the overall grainbill, where it can become problematic.

For all you know the 1K he's mentioning ISN'T the amount in an actual recipe, but he's using it for an illustration. His question is really if it is a 1-1 ratio when using "organic" sugar over non organic sugar. For all we know he just grabbed the number out of thin air to ask the question.
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