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Old 04-20-2010, 02:34 PM   #1
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Default Adding sugar

wow, I normally don't make it to this part of the website - the beer making. I normally stick to wine, mead, and cider.

My poor husband tried his first ever all grain whatever this last weekend as part of a dandelion bitter. The OG ended up being 1.032...

My knee jerk reaction, as a wine maker, was to add sugar, but he shot me down. Purest, I get that - I hate it when people add sugar to cider. However, I'm still left wondering what adding sugar to his batch would have done, and if it was a good or bad idea.

I will say that wine takes forever to age, so would adding sugar mess with the time line and/or smoothness?


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Old 04-20-2010, 02:36 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by CandleWineProject View Post
I'm still left wondering what adding sugar to his batch would have done, and if it was a good or bad idea.

I will say that wine takes forever to age, so would adding sugar mess with the time line and/or smoothness?
Adding table sugar to beer can make it taste "cidery".


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Old 04-20-2010, 09:22 PM   #3
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I for one believe the "cidery" off flavour is a myth and mostly a result of some other process problem. The big thing sugar will do is dry out your beer. This can be good or bad depending on the goal of the beer in question. The following post goes pretty in depth on the 'cidery' debate.

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f14/addi...n-cider-90498/
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Old 04-20-2010, 09:30 PM   #4
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according to May/June's zymurgy magazine cidery beer has more to do with improper yeast nutrition and subpar yeast pitch rates. depending on how much sugar you add you may need to add some FAN and/or yeast nutrient and make sure you pitch enough yeast for the batch size and OG. I've personally added 3 pounds of table sugar bought from the super market to a Belgian Golden Strong. it turned out just fine.

but word of warning. sugar is for the most part 100% fermentable. this will result in a lower than calculated FG.
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Old 04-20-2010, 09:37 PM   #5
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both Jawbox0 and TipsyDragon have warned that it would result in a dry, lower than calculated FG. Why is that? I mean, not all of the grain sugars are fermentable, so how could adding sugar suddenly push the FG lower? You still got all that unfermentable grain sugar there... I'm confused.

I still wonder about the time line. Most beer is drinkable in 4-8 weeks, and sugar based fermentation is like 6 months, but the longer the better. Hmm.
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Old 04-20-2010, 10:39 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by CandleWineProject View Post
both Jawbox0 and TipsyDragon have warned that it would result in a dry, lower than calculated FG. Why is that? I mean, not all of the grain sugars are fermentable, so how could adding sugar suddenly push the FG lower? You still got all that unfermentable grain sugar there... I'm confused.

I still wonder about the time line. Most beer is drinkable in 4-8 weeks, and sugar based fermentation is like 6 months, but the longer the better. Hmm.
Suppose your target OG was 1.060 and predicted FG was 1.015--that's a 75% fermentable wort. But you screw up your mash and only get a 1.030, so you top it up to 1.060 with table sugar.

The grains are still about 75% fermentable, so the 30 points (half the desired 60) from grains will ferment down to 7.5 points of unfermentable sugar (half the desired 15). But the sugar is 100% fermentable; the 30 points of sugar will vanish during fermentation and add nothing to the FG.

So you'll go from a 1.060 OG down to a 1.007ish FG--a much drier finish than you wanted on the beer.
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Old 04-20-2010, 10:53 PM   #7
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Suppose your target OG was 1.060 and predicted FG was 1.015--that's a 75% fermentable wort. But you screw up your mash and only get a 1.030, so you top it up to 1.060 with table sugar.

The grains are still about 75% fermentable, so the 30 points (half the desired 60) from grains will ferment down to 7.5 points of unfermentable sugar (half the desired 15). But the sugar is 100% fermentable; the 30 points of sugar will vanish during fermentation and add nothing to the FG.

So you'll go from a 1.060 OG down to a 1.007ish FG--a much drier finish than you wanted on the beer.
Okay, I'm following that, though I don't have the formulas figured out. I was thinking the grains would force it to still stop at 1.015, but I can see where my thinking was flawed.

Back to the 1.030 sugar free wort, would the final be still be 1.015? I'll have to ask hubby or look at his books when I get home to understand this 75% stuff. My mind wants formulas!

I do love the science behind the "why can't I" questions.
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Old 04-21-2010, 05:19 AM   #8
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Okay, I'm following that, though I don't have the formulas figured out. I was thinking the grains would force it to still stop at 1.015, but I can see where my thinking was flawed.

Back to the 1.030 sugar free wort, would the final be still be 1.015? I'll have to ask hubby or look at his books when I get home to understand this 75% stuff. My mind wants formulas!

I do love the science behind the "why can't I" questions.
No. The 1.030 would finish at 1.0075. For 1.030 to finish at 1.015, you'd need to somehow have changed it so that only 50% of your malt turned into fermentable sugars.

Think of it this way: about 75% of your grain can ferment. You can shift that around some--mash low and long (say, 147F for 90+ minutes), and you might get 90% fermentable. Mash high (say, 159F+) and you might approach 60% fermentables. But if you got conversion, it's basically a fixed percentage given a certain grain bill and mash schedule.

So if 1.060 was going to ferment to 1.015 (75% fermentable), then if you hit 1.040 with a reasonable mash temp, then you'll ferment to somewhere near 1.010 (75%). And if you get an OG of 1.080, you'll ferment to somewhere near 1.020 (75%).

The exact grainbill and mash schedul can shift the fermentable percentage somewhat, but it's not going to go to 100% or 40% without pretty extreme conditions.

Whatever points you add to the gravity from plain simple sugars are close to 100% fermentable, and add zero to the expected FG.
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Old 04-21-2010, 01:53 PM   #9
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Oye, lost me. It honestly makes it sound like the FG would be 1.007 regardless if there was sugar or not, so might as well add sugar. And it wouldn't be the sugar that dried it out, as it would have done it anyway.
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Old 04-21-2010, 02:37 PM   #10
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The real issue with sugar drying out beer hasn't been addressed here I think, so I'll give it a try:

Pretty much 100% of the sugar is fermented into alcohol. Alcohol has a lower gravity than water. (I believe it's around 0.800 for pure ethanol.) This addition of alcohol lowers the FG, though it does nothing to reduce residual sugars from the extract. But it makes the beer feel thinner and lighter in body because of the low SG of alcohol. In general, I find that each 1 lb of sugar that I add increases alcohol by a bit over 1%. This 1% increase in alcohol will drop the FG by a couple points because that 1% of volume has a gravity of 0.800, not 1.012 or whatever your final gravity is. Using a calculator, in fact, a 1.012 FG with a 1% abv increase due to sugar becomes a 1.0988 FG -- pretty much 1.010. Add enough sugar to boost abv by 2% and you are down to 1.008 FG. All the dextrins from the malt are still in there, not fermented, but the added alcohol thins out the body because alcohol is thinner than water.

Hope that helps.


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