How to make sweeter beers?

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scohop

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What factors play into making a finished product that is sweeter?

Here's my starter list. What am I missing or just plain confused about? Some things I *think* are factors include:
(A) mashing at a higher temperature (closer to 158 than 150).
(B) using a stiffer mash
(C) using a low attenuation yeast?
(D) having a higher OG?

What makes a beer sweeter? Is it largely just that the yeast can't ferment all the sugars? Would that mean that sweeter beers generally have to be more alcoholic?

Thanks!
Scott
 

david_42

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You are on the right track, except for the high OG part. High alcohol levels will tend to interfere with the sweetness. Yeast attenuation plays a big part, as do selecting grains with high levels unfermentables. Making a sweeter ale is easier if you are using caramels.

And keep the bittering down.

Take a look at Mild recipes.
 

CBBaron

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I think a higher OG will result in a sweeter beer all other this being equal however the higher alcohol level will have some affect on the final sweetness.
As was mentioned carmel and dextrin malts and unfermentable sugars like maltodextrin and lactose will add sweetness.
A less bitter beer is perceived as sweeter so reducing your hops also affects the final flavor.
I have an oatmeal stout I expect will be very sweet as it has most of those items going for it. It appears it is going to have an FG of 1.020 from a starting OG of 1.048. That means about a 4% alcohol beer with lots of dextrines.
Craig
 

clayof2day

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Dextrins actually shouldn't carry a sweet flavor, although they will lend mouth feel. One obvious thing that I don't think has been metioned yet is to use yeast that attenuates less. If it doesn't eat all the fermentables, then it will leave a sweeter end product.
 

Evan!

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To clarify:

Maltodextrin adds body and fullness.

Lactose adds sweetness.

What Clay says is technically correct, but can lead to problems when naturally carbonating. High FG should be a product, as much as possible, of the proportion of unfermentables in the brew. If your FG is high because your yeast had low attenuation, you always run the risk of gushers or bottle bombs---basically, you're re-starting fermentation in bottle by adding priming sugar, and once those yeasties get started again, they may not stop at the priming sugar; they just might decide to finish off the sugar that they never got to in carboy.

It's always a safer bet to control your sweetness through the level of unfermentables in the brew. You can do this by adding adjuncts like maltodex or lactose, or by mashing at higher temps, or by using cara-___, etc.
 

cweston

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I agree with homebrewer_99 that hops are a critical part of this equation. All beers with low BU:GU ratios taste sweet to me (relatively speaking), unless the FG is also very low (like in BMC).
 

CBBaron

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Evan! said:
To clarify:
Maltodextrin adds body and fullness.
Lactose adds sweetness.
My understanding is that Lactose is about half as sweet as table sugar but unfermentable and maltodextrin is about a quarter as sweet as table sugar and unfermentable.
I think any dextrines in the beer will add to the sweetness and body but the type of sugar determines to what extent it is perceived as sweet.
Craig
 

abracadabra

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I'm more of a gear head than beer geek right now so please correct me if I'm mistaken.

But from what I've read adding fermentable sugar increases the alcohol and makes the beer less sweet.
 

homebrewer_99

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cweston said:
I agree with homebrewer_99 that hops are a critical part of this equation. All beers with low BU:GU ratios taste sweet to me (relatively speaking), unless the FG is also very low (like in BMC).
Thanks for the backup, but the reality is is if you brew a batch of beer and DO NOT add hops -- you have sweet beer. :D It's in the hops. ;)
 
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scohop

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Just found this article on Brew Your Own,

http://byo.com/mrwizard/753.html

He mentions keeping your mash time as short as possible (i.e., stop as soon as an iodine test shows full conversion). Why does this matter though? If you're mashing high enough that the beta-amylase is denatured, why do you have to worry? (what am I missing...?)

pax,
Scott
 

CBBaron

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scohop said:
Just found this article on Brew Your Own,
http://byo.com/mrwizard/753.html
He mentions keeping your mash time as short as possible (i.e., stop as soon as an iodine test shows full conversion). Why does this matter though? If you're mashing high enough that the beta-amylase is denatured, why do you have to worry? (what am I missing...?)
I believe the reason you want to keep your mash short is because alpha-amylase when allowed to continue to work will produce fermentable sugars by continuing to break the sugars apart. He mentions this in the article.
Craig
 
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