Adding sugar to your beer is NOT going to make it taste like freakin' cider.

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PseudoChef

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All right, I'm tired of people saying that adding some type of sugar (be it cane, corn, whatever) is going to make it taste like Cider. I would even bet that most people have never tried doing this and are just hopping on this anti-sugar bandwagon because it's the "in" thing to do.

If you carefully balance your recipe, pitch the necessary amount of healthy yeast, and control your fermentation temperatures (all three which you should be doing anyway), adding sugar to your beer will NOT result in it tasting "cidery."

I hypothesize this rumor started from poorly crafted "kit" beers. These kits call for cane or corn sugar as a substantial amount of fermentables - more than would normally be called for. This then evolved into an "all sugar is bad" and this whole "cider" BS. This reasoning is also most likely augmented by the fact that these kits did not contain the best ingredients (extracts and yeasts) or instructions for their use. I would also venture a guess that because these kits were geared for the new brewer, fermentation temperatures were probably uncontrolled, resulting in hot fermentations and fusel alcohol warmth that made an unpalatable beer.

Adding sugar to your recipe can be advantageous in that it helps "dry" out the beer and thus reducing cloying body sweetness in some styles and accentuating hop bitterness in others. If making or using dark candi sugar, you may also be adding flavor and color components to your beer.

There is extensive documentation on the internet from fantastic brewers such as Jamil Zainasheff who have used amounts such as 3 lbs of regular cane sugar in a 6 gallon recipe that has placed in the second round of the National Homebrew Competition. I am not trying to be a Jamil fanboy, I am merely stating that you don't take home gold medals with beer that tastes "cidery" (Source: The Jamil Show, Belgian Golden Strong).

There is also the advantage of using simple sugars in high gravity fermentations in order to make them attenuate properly. In this case of extreme fermentations (I would estimate around the 1.100+ area) it is best to "step" your fermentations. For example, allow the yeast (don't forget that healthy pitch!) to consume the maltose-based sugars first and then when the gravity has dropped, start dosing with the simple sugars. The point of not adding all the fermentables at first is because it will overwhelm the yeast due to viscosity of the wort and because the yeast will choose to metabolise the simple sugars (glucose, sucrose, fructose) in preference over the maltose. These latter sugars (which come from the malts) will be left unfermented, resulting in cloying sweetness and a heavy body.
(Source: Sean Paxton's Dogfish Head 120 minute IPA clone recipe).

As mentioned, hoppy beers may benefit from simple sugar additions to dry out the malt backbone, leaving the hop characteristics (bitterness, flavor, and aroma) more pronounced. Again, you want to make sure of balance in the recipe (you still want malt!), but you don't want all those expensive hops covered up by residual sweetness or body that may not mesh well. Make the most of the hops during this time of record prices by getting your beer to ferment drier, leaving a pleasant hop tone to the beer.
(Source: 2008 Samuel Adams Longshot Winner: Mike McDole's Double IPA, aka Pliny the Elder clone).

Don't be duped: sugar has its place in beer by making it more digestible and easy drinking, when used with a solid and balanced recipe.
 

GilaMinumBeer

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Yes. I agree.

This notion comes from the age of kit and kilo brewing which have little to no balance whatsoever. Those were cidery and because they included such a high proportion of cane sugar the notion stuck to that.
 

EdWort

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Good info Chef! There's a lot of misinformation and misconceptions on the use of sugar in making beer.
 

carnevoodoo

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I hypothesize this rumor started from poorly crafted "kit" beers. These kits call for cane or corn sugar as a substantial amount of fermentables - more than would normally be called for.
That's exactly where this came from. People not knowing how to make kits and having 25% or more of the fermentables as just plain white sugar.

Of course sugars have their place in recipes. You just have to be careful. Because too much will thin out your beer a lot and it will make it less than appealing to the tastebuds.
 

McKBrew

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Another misconception that is slowly being disproven. I can remember a couple years back on HBT when just about everyone was saying that sugar, esp. table sugar was bad for beer.
 
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Should this go in the debate forum? :cross:

I've got to agree with you.
In fact, I'm not sure I have ever experienced the cider flavor that some people talk about. I assume it's similar to the twang in Apfelwein, which I've never experienced in a beer.
Most people that are making the can and Kilo kits are fermenting a mediocre (At Best) wort at too high a temperature with sub standard yeast and using old extract.
It's called "OFF FLAVORS" people. You can't expect that to taste very good. It wasn't' until I tried that type of beer that I truly understood Extract Twang.

Good post PseudoChef! I agree with ya!
 

Danek

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Good points, well made. :mug:

Sad to say there are still some beer kits in my local HBS that recommend using 50% of cane sugar on a small ordinary beer, which I really think is overdoing it. Conversely, I tried a homebrewed IPA at the weekend that had a pound of cane sugar in, and it was fantastic.

Don't be duped: sugar has its place in beer by making it more digestible and easy drinking, when used with a solid and balanced recipe.
Damn straight.
 

Austinhomebrew

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Less refined sugars such as cane sugar will tend to lead to off flavors. Everyone knows that belgian beers have off flavors so I can see why it wasn't counted against him.

Corn sugar is much more refined and it is much harder to get an off flavor.

I would not recommend using a lot of cane sugar unless it is in a belgian recipe where that flavor is common and accepted.

I know I can certainly taste when a lot of cane sugar is used. This is not the case with just about any other kind of sugar.

Forrest
 

Austinhomebrew

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I am sure someone knows what I mean. With all of the bacteria and beet sugar and just about anything goes with Belgian beers. What is normal in a Belgian beer is considered an off flavor in a regular beer. If you have a regular beer with off flavors just tell people its Belgian. They will understand. J/K

Forrest
 

ohiobrewtus

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*clap* *clap*

Now just make sure to reply to any thread about sugar with a link to this post. :rolleyes:

Solid post, chef. I can attest to it's content. I have done a Belgian Golden Strong with 3 lbs of table sugar, a Belgian Dark Strong w/2# of table sugar and 1# of candi sugar, a Biere de Garde w/2# of table sugar and an IIPA with 2# of table sugar. All turned out excellent.

If you know what you're doing and you use it properly, sucrose is your friend. If you're looking to make cheap hooch (like some of the videos that we've all seen on youtube) and you use 5 or 6# of sucrose/powdered sugar and one 3.3# can of LME then ya, your 'beer' is going to taste like crap.
 

TeufelBrew

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I'll make your case with my 1st and 3rd batch.

Cooper's kit from SWMBO had 3lbs surgar in the recipe. Batch wasn't infected, but it wasn't very good. With almost 40% fermentables refined sugar, it tasted cidery even 6 months later.

Third batch was Belgian Golden Strong Ale. Had about 2 lbs sugars added but was only about 15% of fermentables. Tastes freakin AWESOME! Balanced use of sugar, good ingredients to start with and refined sugar has a definate use and place in making good beer.

Great post and thanks for bringing it up! Prosted
 

Saccharomyces

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If you ate a diet of 30% candy bars, you would feel crappy. So would your yeast.

Properly used, adding sugar to your recipes isn't any worse than having a slice of cake for dessert. I use sugar in my recipes A LOT, because I *hate* cloyingly sweet underattenuated beer.

In fact, I enjoy drinking light BMC more than a few commercial big beers I have tried that finish way too sweet because they DIDN'T use any sugar in the fermentables...

EDIT: even though the OP think Brett is better than me, he has a good point. :D
 

s3n8

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I have been experimenting with adding sugar to recipes to dry them out a bit. I have used dark brown sugar, corn sugar, candi sugar crystals. dark candy syrup, molasses, demerra, and have some lyles golden syrup to try.

The only sugar that I thought contributed some off flavors was the Dark Brown, but it was 1lb in 2.5 gallons of bastardized apfelwein. It definitely had a little hot-rocket-fuel to it, but has since calmed down.

I will continue to experiment, and will try some straight up table sugar one of these days. I would never use more than 1lb or maybe 2 in a really big beer (OG 1.1ish).

Based on everything I have read, 10 - 15% will help attenuation, and according to Brew like a Monk, some Belgians are as high as 30%.

Hooray for discussions about brewing! :mug:
 

DeathBrewer

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If you carefully balance your recipe, pitch the necessary amount of healthy yeast, and control your fermentation temperatures (all three which you should be doing anyway), adding sugar to your beer will NOT result in it tasting "cidery."
yep, as i always say...sugar has it's place in beer, just not as a malt substitute to save cost on your beer. making a 5 gallon batch of pale ale with 4 lbs of sugar will indeed make it taste "cidery" :p

and yes, i've tried it.
 

sflcowboy78

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Rahr our local brewery out here has a beer called winter warmer. this beer is great and does not have a cider taste at all. they use 300lbs of cane sugar in a 50bbl batch this comes out to a little less that a pound per 5 gallons.
 

cubbies

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I'll make your case with my 1st and 3rd batch.

Cooper's kit from SWMBO had 3lbs surgar in the recipe. Batch wasn't infected, but it wasn't very good. With almost 40% fermentables refined sugar, it tasted cidery even 6 months later.

Third batch was Belgian Golden Strong Ale. Had about 2 lbs sugars added but was only about 15% of fermentables. Tastes freakin AWESOME! Balanced use of sugar, good ingredients to start with and refined sugar has a definate use and place in making good beer.

Great post and thanks for bringing it up! Prosted
This is exactly the point. Will sugar make your beer taste cidery? Sure. If you use too much and do not properly balance malt with sugar, yeah it is not going to taste right, and probably taste cidery. If you use a proper portion and pitch proper yeast, it is fine to use some cane sugar. 3lbs I would say is reaching the upper limit for a 5 gallon batch.
 

EdWort

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In fact, I enjoy drinking light BMC more than a few commercial big beers I have tried that finish way too sweet because they DIDN'T use any sugar in the fermentables...
It must be the Drinkability.....:D

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4608D5FTKo]YouTube - Bud Light Drinkability Cabin party[/ame]
 

tom777

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I've brewed a few of the can+kilo kits when I first started brewing earlier this year. A couple of these turned into outstanding beer. Coopers Australian Pale Ale and Brewmart Czech Pilsner kits come to mind first. Most of the others weren't bad -- just "ordinary" you might say. I can't say I ever had what I would call a "cidery" taste to any of these. Using dextrose rather than cane sugar probably helped a little bit there.
 

onejdn

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I made an extract IPA a while back and didn't was sent the wrong amount of extract (I was a lb short) so I used 1/2lb of corn sugar. It was one of my better extract beers. It came out close to my target O.G. and finished quite nicely. I was actually thinking of brewing it again.
 

dontman

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Every book I have read has said "too much" sugar can give beer a cidery taste. Most often I see folks like Papazian and Palmer recommend that sugar be no more than 10-15 % of the fermentables.

I think in the forums people just tend to distill (pardon the pun) that info down to "sugar = cider taste" neglecting the important part of the message which is, in moderation, sugar and other adjuncts are good.
 

Yooper

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I'm not anti-sugar, but I don't use it very often. The reason is simple- I usually make fairly low OG session beers. Even my IPAs tend to be of a moderate OG, and I need the malt to balance the hops. I also have a tendency to overattenuate- often down to 1.008 or so even if I mash at 153-154. My non-IPA and APA beers tend to be American ambers, and occasionally a British ESB or a mild. I've used dextrose in a cream ale, in a Belgian pale ale, and in a DIPA but I can't think of any other times I have.

I think the key to a good beer is balance. A well-designed recipe is the key. Just like you wouldn't use 2 pounds of black patent in a stout, you might not want to use 2 pounds of simple sugar in a pale ale. It doesn't mean it's not an ok ingredient, but it's all about the proper amount in the recipe and not just to boost ABV. I also wouldn't add 2 pounds of malt extract in a recipe just to boost ABV- I'd look at in the context of the recipe.
 

Kauai_Kahuna

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PseudoChef - Nice write up and thank you for making a very sound argument.
Personally I prefer to use honey, I don't know if I can actually taste any difference but it must be an subconscious thing. Even then I try not to go over 10% of the fermentables just because I like rich and full beers.
 

Malticulous

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I had some awful of flavors to a can+kilo kit I did fifteen years ago. I think I doubled the sugar. The next can kit I did I used DME (even for primming) and it was much better. Life got in the way and I just recently started to brew again.

I have no problems with using sugar but it needs to have a purpose in the recipe.
 

Teacher

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Count me among the pro-sugar crowd. My favorite beer is a RyePA with .75 lb sugar and Notty's, which results in a nice dry beer to allow the rye and hop flavors to shine...and absolutely no cidery flavors. I've used up to 1.25-1.5 lbs (not sure) with no problems. I'm about to brew a bastardized Belgian Golden (I'm gonna use a little pale malt to increase the body a little) using 2 pounds and am sure it will be great.
 

bkov

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thank you, finally some support for sugar. I tried arguing this a few months ago and every1 was against it
 

MrNate

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All right, I'm tired of people saying that adding some type of sugar (be it cane, corn, whatever) is going to make it taste like Cider. I would even bet that most people have never tried doing this and are just hopping on this anti-sugar bandwagon because it's the "in" thing to do.
Well, duh... It's a homebrewing forum. Making up random crap and arguing about it is really our main hobby. Homebrewing is just an offshoot. :mug:
 

Bob

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Sugar can be quite appropriate. Fuller's London Pride, for example, uses sugar, along with many well-regarded real ales.

Cheers,

Bob
 

Seabee John

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Yea for sugar! Lets all brew a batch with nothing but sugar and yeast! Just kidding, but after reading this thread it does give me enough data to at leased investigate the reasons for using sugar. The only sugar I've ever used was dark brown sugar in my nut brown ale recipe. It's added a bit more taste and obviously a bump in ABV. I've brewed a batch without the brown sugar because I wanted to see what it would taste like without it. I was surprised to find that it was not as "thin" and when it came to the taste there was barely a noticeable difference. here's the recipe:

Ingredients:
------------
Amount Item Type % or IBU
13.00 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 71.23 %
1.50 lb Cara-Pils/Dextrine (2.0 SRM) Grain 8.22 %
1.00 lb Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM) Grain 5.48 %
0.50 lb Victory Malt (25.0 SRM) Grain 2.74 %
0.25 lb Special B Malt (180.0 SRM) Grain 1.37 %
2.00 oz Williamette [5.50 %] (60 min) Hops 18.7 IBU
1.00 oz Fuggles [4.50 %] (20 min) Hops 4.6 IBU
1.00 oz Fuggles [4.50 %] (3 min) Hops 1.0 IBU
2.00 lb Brown Sugar, Dark (50.0 SRM) Sugar 10.96 %
1 Pkgs Edinburgh Ale (White Labs #WLP028) Yeast-Ale
2 Pkgs Nottingham (Danstar #-) Yeast-Ale

I've also substituted the sugar for honey pound for pound. It's had similar but noticeable results. But, I'll get to the point or rather my question:

Outside of a recipe that looks for a certain result albeit flavor, color, or the obligatory bump in ABV, why would you use sugar when you can get the same results with the proper blend of malt?
 

dontman

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Yea for sugar! Lets all brew a batch with nothing but sugar and yeast! Just kidding, but after reading this thread it does give me enough data to at leased investigate the reasons for using sugar. The only sugar I've ever used was dark brown sugar in my nut brown ale recipe. It's added a bit more taste and obviously a bump in ABV. I've brewed a batch without the brown sugar because I wanted to see what it would taste like without it. I was surprised to find that it was not as "thin" and when it came to the taste there was barely a noticeable difference. here's the recipe:

Ingredients:
------------
Amount Item Type % or IBU
13.00 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 71.23 %
1.50 lb Cara-Pils/Dextrine (2.0 SRM) Grain 8.22 %
1.00 lb Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM) Grain 5.48 %
0.50 lb Victory Malt (25.0 SRM) Grain 2.74 %
0.25 lb Special B Malt (180.0 SRM) Grain 1.37 %
2.00 oz Williamette [5.50 %] (60 min) Hops 18.7 IBU
1.00 oz Fuggles [4.50 %] (20 min) Hops 4.6 IBU
1.00 oz Fuggles [4.50 %] (3 min) Hops 1.0 IBU
2.00 lb Brown Sugar, Dark (50.0 SRM) Sugar 10.96 %
1 Pkgs Edinburgh Ale (White Labs #WLP028) Yeast-Ale
2 Pkgs Nottingham (Danstar #-) Yeast-Ale

I've also substituted the sugar for honey pound for pound. It's had similar but noticeable results. But, I'll get to the point or rather my question:

Outside of a recipe that looks for a certain result albeit flavor, color, or the obligatory bump in ABV, why would you use sugar when you can get the same results with the proper blend of malt?
Holy Schnikes! That's a big brown beer! Prolly the biggest ever. Oh wait, is that for a 10Gal batch? I notice a lot of Chocolate malt in this beer. What's the SRM turn out to be? I'll bet its got preternatural head retention though.

I'm brewing a English brown next weekend so I'm exploring my options.
 

Kauai_Kahuna

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Well, duh... It's a homebrewing forum. Making up random crap and arguing about it is really our main hobby. Homebrewing is just an offshoot. :mug:
I strongly disagree and fully disapprove that this would ever happen here!
I think 90 percent of the statistics here are made up 50 percent of the time. :mug:
 
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