How do I ferment sugar water ?

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brewman !

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What do I need to ferment a 1.060 water and sugar mix ? Other than yeast, water and sugar...
 
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VikeMan

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In contrast to beer wort, sugar doesn't have the yeast nutrients that yeast need. So starting from nothing, I think you'll probably need something like Propper Seltzer or SeltzerMax if you want a good fermentation.
 
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when i do sugar washes, i make a wheat germ tea. and add the liquid to the wash.
Please tell me more. I've made several sugar washes with DAP, Epson's salts, agitation, etc. None of them will ferment.
 
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In contrast to beer wort, sugar doesn't have the yeast nutrients that yeast need. So starting from nothing, I think you'll probably need something like Propper Seltzer or SeltzerMax if you want a good fermentation.
Thanks for the reply. What are these Seltzer things ?
 

VikeMan

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Thanks for the reply. What are these Seltzer things ?
Well, hard seltzer is basically fermented sugar water. Propper Seltzer and SeltzerMax are both yeast nutrient blends designed for hard seltzer fermentations.
 

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Please tell me more. I've made several sugar washes with DAP, Epson's salts, agitation, etc. None of them will ferment.

had the same experience. but learned, wheat germ will ferment out. about as good as apple juice, maybe better even...


i just boil about a pound of wheat germ in enough water to keep it from burning, strain it, and add it to my sugar wash...will ferment to 16%....

for a sugar wash setup, i'd recomend buying in bulk, and not the little jars at the grocery...

something like this...

 
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Well, hard seltzer is basically fermented sugar water. Propper Seltzer and SeltzerMax are both yeast nutrient blends designed for hard seltzer fermentations.

What is in them that makes them work ?
 
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brewman !

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had the same experience. but learned, wheat germ will ferment out. about as good as apple juice, maybe better even...


i just boil about a pound of wheat germ in enough water to keep it from burning, strain it, and add it to my sugar wash...will ferment to 16%....

for a sugar wash setup, i'd recomend buying in bulk, and not the little jars at the grocery...

something like this...

Many thanks. I'll test it out tonight.

Will Cream of Wheat work ? The real stuff, not the instant stuff ?

I've got lots of brewing malts. Should I just boil up some malt ?

How much wheat germ for 8 gallons ?

FWIW, I've been brewing for 20+ years. I've never had wort that didn't ferment.
 

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Will Cream of Wheat work ? The real stuff, not the instant stuff ?

i'm not sure...wouldn't have the nutrient kick of germ. if you have malt, i've gotten away with cheap beer with just like 8 pounds malt for a 10 gallon batch, and the rest white sugar. 1.060 OG

edit: as far as how much? i just always eye balled it.....i threw the 1lb out just as a memory of about what it looked like.. wasn't an exact science to me, just knew sugar water don't ferment....lol
 
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I might have to boil it to make it taste good. Maybe flavor it with some berries.
 

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I might have to boil it to make it taste good. Maybe flavor it with some berries.

hopefully you have good ventilation....otherwise you're going to need something like one of these....

well, i can't find the thread. but there's a way to do it so you don't need a fan and vent...couldn't find it though...
 

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I'll condense the vapor so it doesn't steam up my house. ;)

so really you're actually a heath nut, and just want to grow yeast as a nutritional supplement. but need some way to dry them? at any rate, i can say wheat germ has very good flavor when used as such....
 

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I think we have a better forum for where this is going - but if you Google "Birdwatcher's Sugar Wash Recipe" and go to the top forum post (not YouTube) you will find a good solution to a nearly flavorless wash.

If you are looking to use this as a fermented beverage, I'd probably use TOSNA and treat it like mead. That seems most appropriate.
 

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I tried that and it didn't work.
If Birdwatchers didn't ferment for you, something else is going on. Do other things ferment OK? Maybe your PH or temps are way, way out of whack? Is your yeast from yesteryear?
 

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Oh - for straight sugar, heating with acid to make it invert will help it ferment as well. Tartaric acid works, or so does plain old lemon juice. Colter put my (adapted) Skeeter Pee recipe/process on his blog (scroll down):


For your plain sugar uses: skip the tannin and the additional lemon juice in the fermenter (you still need the juice in the pot while heating your sugar.) If you can't get straight sugar to ferment like this, you must live in a nuclear reactor. This is the most failsafe method I've come up with to ferment out a very challenging drink. Without the lemon juice, it should be even easier. The yeast starter and nutrients are critical. If you try this, don't come back and say "I did this but changed X, Y, and Z and it doesn't;t work." Follow the instructions and it will work.

When I say "aerate" here, I use an aquarium pump, HEPA filter, and a SS stone. This part is likely not necessary either without the sulfates, but it can only help out even with the straight sugar.
 

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Add a lot of yeast nutrient sold online or LHBS. Lack of nutrient will cause H2S gas and sulfur smell, because the yeast is stressed. Also, ferment it out of sunlight. A tablespoon of yeast and two tablespoons of nutrient will do up to 7 gallons. Make sure your starting PH is close to 5.2. If by chance it stalls along the way, add non-chlorinated water (half a gallon) and more nutrient. If that fails, re-pitch the yeast, yes, tomato paste (a couple of Tablespoons) will work, but it will discolor your wash unless you distill it. It will also really sweeten the taste of your product. I suggest inverting your sugar first with a little citric acid or cream if tarter to break your sugar down into simple sugars which are more easily fermented. As for making sugar beer, it isn’t tasty unless you add flavoring to it. 2 lbs of sugar per gallon of water is just about right. More than that makes it harder to ferment. SG 1.090 is the maximum of potential alcohol that is feasible. Stay away from Turbo Yeasts with sugar washes. It gives very rank flavors. Use a good ale yeast or DADY (Distiller’s Active Dry Yeast). Lots of people use Champagne yeast, but really, it is not the best, by far.
Oh, for beer strength 1.060 or 1.070 is a quite adequate specific gravity. 1.060 is probably best. Olive Nation sells great flavorings.
 
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Problem solved.

Over the last 2 weeks I tested the following trying to get my sugar water to ferment.

- changing pH (7.1 to 5.2, using various acids)
- changing temperature
- aeration with a drill mounted whip
- adding more DAP
- adding Epsom Salt
- tomato paste
- lemon juice
- boiling and not boiling the water

All to no avail !

Last night I added a mixture of cream of wheat and whole wheat pancake mix and both fermenters are actively bubbling away !

Turns out yeast need the nutrients provided by a grain. Who woulda thunk ? /s
 

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I did a few 2 gal sugar washes this year as part of an experiment to make my own hand sanitizer. I didn't use any grain or tomato paste and was able to ferment to completion in 10 days. @ ~13%. The fermentation smells a lot more nasty than a nice beer fermentation, so pick a suitable place or the SWAMBO may not be very happy.

Many sugar washes, including one of mine, experience a drastic pH crash (< 3) around the third day that effectively stops or slows the fermentation to a crawl. The solution to this problem was to add about two teaspoons of calcium carbonate to the 2 gal wash. Some folks use oyster shell for this. While the chalk is largely insoluble at the start, as the CO2 builds up from fermentation, the chalk will dissolve and keep the pH at a steady 4 until the last couple of days where it dropped to 3.5. I used pH strips like the kind for Kombucha to measure this.

So use a sugar wash calculator for grams of sugar to water, add a balanced yeast nutrient ( I used Fermax, DAP is not that good by itself) and use some food grade chalk and it should work well for you.
 

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The fermentation smells a lot more nasty than a nice beer fermentation
If your fermentation smells, it means the yeast is not happy.
about two teaspoons of calcium carbonate to the 2 gal wash
I've been using potassium carbonate, it seems to impart much less of a flavor.
add a balanced yeast nutrient
It matters which one you use. I have always used a modified TOSNA + GoFerm to rehydrate my yeast when fermenting challenging liquids. Since trying a couple of BOMM batches, and because honey is a lot like plain sugar + water (if you make the sugar invert,) I'd recommend the OP have a look at that protocol along-side TOSNA.

The best solution will depend on what the end use is (Setlzer is a way different application than a sugar wash for distillation.)
 
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I did a few 2 gal sugar washes this year as part of an experiment to make my own hand sanitizer. I didn't use any grain or tomato paste and was able to ferment to completion in 10 days. @ ~13%.
Interesting What yeast did you use ?

The fermentation smells a lot more nasty than a nice beer fermentation, so pick a suitable place or the SWAMBO may not be very happy.
Yeah, why is that ?

Many sugar washes, including one of mine, experience a drastic pH crash (< 3) around the third day that effectively stops or slows the fermentation to a crawl. The solution to this problem was to add about two teaspoons of calcium carbonate to the 2 gal wash. Some folks use oyster shell for this. While the chalk is largely insoluble at the start, as the CO2 builds up from fermentation, the chalk will dissolve and keep the pH at a steady 4 until the last couple of days where it dropped to 3.5. I used pH strips like the kind for Kombucha to measure this.
My fermentation is bubbling along nicely. I had the same thing happen, though fermentation seemed vigorous. pH was 3 ish the other day. I added some sodium carbonate (baking soda). Just checked and it was 3.1. I added more baking soda. I also added more pancake mix !

I'm feeding it more sugar every time the gravity drops below 1.030. I'm seeing how high I can take it.

So use a sugar wash calculator for grams of sugar to water, add a balanced yeast nutrient ( I used Fermax, DAP is not that good by itself) and use some food grade chalk and it should work well for you.
I'll use the food grade chalk next time. Thanks for the tip.
 

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What do I need to ferment a 1.060 water and sugar mix ? Other than yeast, water and sugar...
You need a buffering agent, which normally means calcium carbonate. I have just had a stuck fermentation on a sugar wash (birdwatcher's) with a 3,21 pH (which is a pit below normal) and it woke up dramatically after adding 4 eggshells (without the pellicle).

I am soon buying some calcium carbonate when I find it, but substitutes such as eggshells work and are free after you ate your fried eggs. Alternatively oyster shells or oyster shells fragments or bird egg fragments can be found at certain sellers of chicken food.
 

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Again, it depends whether this is for a wash or for a base. Potassium Carbonate is a better choice for a buffer for a drink base.
 

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Interesting What yeast did you use ?



Yeah, why is that ?



My fermentation is bubbling along nicely. I had the same thing happen, though fermentation seemed vigorous. pH was 3 ish the other day. I added some sodium carbonate (baking soda). Just checked and it was 3.1. I added more baking soda. I also added more pancake mix !

I'm feeding it more sugar every time the gravity drops below 1.030. I'm seeing how high I can take it.



I'll use the food grade chalk next time. Thanks for the tip.
i used DADY from RedStar which starts fast, ferments out dry, is fairly neutral and very cheap.

The smell is a bit sulfery, but if you control the temp, it is greatly reduced. I also may have slightly under dosed the yeast nutrient. I didn't care since I wasn't going to drink the alcohol produced, just wanted to make some some sanitizer.
 

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Again, it depends whether this is for a wash or for a base. Potassium Carbonate is a better choice for a buffer for a drink base.
I am interested. I don't know what you mean for "a wash or a base". I am making sugar washes to arrive to a neutral alcohol base, which I will use for mistrà, bitter, sambuca, gin etc.

Please elaborate. Specifically, what advantages would Potassium Carbonate have over Calcium Carbonate?
 

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I am interested. I don't know what you mean for "a wash or a base". I am making sugar washes to arrive to a neutral alcohol base, which I will use for mistrà, bitter, sambuca, gin etc.
A wash is what you are describing. A base would be someone making hard Selzer or something of the like, where the fermented beverage would be cleared and consumed.

Please elaborate. Specifically, what advantages would Potassium Carbonate have over Calcium Carbonate?
Calcium carbonate has a higher impact on taste, takes longer to clear, and will preferentially neutralize tartaric acid which may not be desirable in something that is to be consumed directly. If the fermented liquid is to be distilled, these are not as much a concern.
 
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Great content, people. Thanks for all the replies.

FWIW, the Fast Fermenting Vodka Hand Sanitizer recipe adds wheat bran to the wash. Mine would not ferment, no way, no how, until I added some wheat product to it.

Really interesting to hear about correcting the pH with eggshells and various carbonates.
 

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Agree, it's very interesting to consider different ways to approach it that are more frugal than one would need to consider for a direct-consumed beer.
 
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