Invert Sugar and Candy Sugar

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Janx

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My current understanding of candi sugar:

It is in fact just sucrose, table sugar, derived from cane or beets. It dates from a time when refining processes were not what they are today. The Belgian brewers would dissolve the sugar, then let crystals form on strings...rock candy...in order to "refine" it and leave behind impurities. It is my understanding that candi sugar is no different from cane sugar. I have also read that despite the prevalence of beet sugar in Northern Europe, cane sugar was more often used because it was more pure. With modern sugar refining methods, it really doesn't matter which you use, as someone pointed out. Sucrose is sucrose is sucrose.

Invert sugar is different. I've been using that in a lot of my beers. British beers have included invert sugar for a long time. It's more accepted there than in Germany, or even among microbrewers in the states. Invert sugar is where you take sucrose and cook it with some citric acid to split it into simpler sugars, as someone mentioned earlier in the thread. It's much more easily metabolized by the yeast and produces a cleaner flavor. It's really easy to make and a lot of fun to add to a big beer.

It's my understanding that the Belgians do use some sort of liquid candi sugar. I don't know if that would be sucrose or glucose/fructose(invert). There seems to be a lot of confusion on this issue. In any event, most Belgian beers are aged for a long time, so even sucrose would have time to ferment out fully.

British brewers can get invert sugar in syrup form, I understand, and have it delivered by trucks to tanks.

I did some experiments after reading that candi sugar was nothing more than sucrose (because bags of sugar are way cheaper than candi sugar at the LHBS). Compared to invert sugar, the cane sugar took a lot longer to ferment out clean. I didn't taste much if any difference. After all, you add sugar to give a strong beer more alcohol without adding flavor or body. And does it ever work! ;)

Now I just go ahead and invert it, saving the yeast some effort, and producing quicker, cleaner results. Just take however much cane sugar you want to use. Add enough water to just make a thick syrup. Add 1/4 tsp or so citric acid (for 2-3 pounds of sugar). Cook it on the stove until it's at about 300 degrees Fahrenheit. I then just dump the hot syrup into my wort. I always make the sugar during the sparge.

Cheers! :D
 

BitterRat

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Good info Janx!! Thanks for sharing how to make your own invert sugar!!
 

jim81147

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Here is a post from a different board , originally posted by Randy Mosher. I found it interesting ....

OK, one more time...here are some posts from HBD on candi sugar. Notice how Randy Mosher talks about Belgian brewers laughing at Americans for buying candi sugar.

"Invert sugar is produced from sucrose by adding invertase and/or acid
and heat. This breaks down sucrose (disaccharide) into its two
components: fructose and glucose (monosaccharides). Pure invert sugars
do not normally crystalize. Belgian candi sugar, which is crystalized,
is NOT pure invert sugar. It is derived from sugar beets, as are many
European table sugars. Thus, it might be argued that Belgian candi sugar
tastes subtly different from American table sugar, which in most cases
comes from sugar cane.

I have heard that Unibroue (Quebec) uses regular table sugar (sucrose
from sugar cane) in its Belgian style beers. They still taste pretty
good to me! IMHO, Belgian Candi sugar (sucrose from beets) at $4 per
pound is a waste of money when you can get table sugar (sucrose from
cane) for much less.

Sincerely,
Peter A. Ensminger
Syracuse, NY"

"There is a tremendous amount of confusion on this subject among us
homebrewers right now. I think a lot of the problem is related to the
translation difficulties, and Belgian and American brewers assuming each
knows what the other is talking about.

Having just done the tech edit on Stan Heironymous' new book, Monk Brews,
this subject came up a number of times, and I think we finally got it
pounded into submission. Here goes.

"Candi" sugar may refer both to rock candy (which is what we Americans tend
to think it is) but also to a cooked liquid caramel syrup. In my experience,
this is more often to be case when a Belgian is talking. On old Belgian
labels and in brewing books, candi sugar invariably refers to the caramel
syrup. Properly made, this is a class III caramel and is made from invert
sugar combined with ammonium carbonate or similar source of nitrogen. The
rock candy is definitely not inverted, as invert sugar won't crystallize.

The two are not interchangeable. Caramel syrup has a considerable amount of
both color and flavor, and the flavors are of a distinctly rich caramelly
kind, quite different from semi-refined sugar. Here's a link to the Web site
of a sugar company in Belgium that sells both:

http://www.candico.be/industrieel/index3b800-600 ENG.htm

The white rock candy is a waste of money. Sure, it's shiny and cool, but it
is identical in chemical composition to grocery store sugar. Cane or beet
does not matter--the molecules are the same (although your grocery store
probably has beet sugar if it makes you feel better). In Belgium, the rock
candy is not so expensive, which is why it's used. Jeff Sparrow (Wild Brews)
says the Belgian brewers laughed out loud when he told them how much we were
paying for the rock sugar.

I tried a little experiment and ground up some of the white, pale and "dark"
rock candy, and tried to tell the difference. The white and pale (yellowish)
ones were absolutely identical, and I think I might have been able to detect
the slightest hint of character in the "dark." I plan on getting this blind
in front of some judges and see what results I get.

For most brewing purposes, I prefer turbinado or similar semi-refined sugar,
or ethnic "concrete" sugars like piloncillo, jaggery and others. These were
widely used in brewing in England, Belgium and France less than a century
ago, so they're not such a bad fit with tradition.

- --Randy Mosher"
 

Steve973

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I derived my invert sugar from turbinado sugar. The specific brand I used was "Sugar In The Raw". If you compare this sugar to the crystals you get at the homebrew store (even the "dark" stuff), you'll notice much much more flavor in the turbinado-derived candy sugar. It has a distinctly caramel/toffee flavor, and my friend and I will be using it when we brew next sunday (the 11th).

By the way, I ordered some debittered black malt from midwest homebrew supply, and like Gordon Strong suggested to me in an email, I'm going to try steeping the grains in ~150 degree strike water (in a grain bag) until we get the color we want, then remove it and proceed with 2L pils malt for the mash. It's a different approach than I've used before, so I'll let everybody know how it works. We have some Wyeast 3787 High Gravity Trappist yeast on order as well, and that'll be the first time that we try that yeast.

All in all, next Sunday will be exciting!

Steve
 

Tony

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Excellent thread for sure! Thanks everyone!

My question now...are all these sugars 100% fermentable? I would venture to say yes, but want to make sure.
 

Steve973

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Fructose and glucose/dextrose, the components of table sugar (sucrose) are 100% fermentable. Sucrose itself is highly fermentable, but I'm not sure if the number is 100% or not.
 

Rhoobarb

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Steve973 said:
I derived my invert sugar from turbinado sugar. ...
Steve
I substitute Turbinado sugar for invert or candi sugar in all my Belgian-style wheat ales. It does give them a nice flavor! I just dump it into the brewpot during the last 20 minutes of the boil and stir well.
 

mscho1

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Does this process reduce the cidery flavor that can be caused by beet-cane sugar???
 

Steve973

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I haven't gotten any cidery flavor, but I am not speaking from lots of experience. Some Belgian breweries use sucrose anyway. I've also heard that the acidity in your wort will invert the sucrose anyway.
 

casebrew

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I had an interesting epiphany while 'brewing' a batch of Invert sugar. I noticed that , just before it actually started to boil, it had a foam 'explosion'. Hmmm, I wonder what gas that was?

So, I looked up the formulas for Fructose (C2, H12, O6), Glucose (also C6,H12,O6) and Sucrose ( C12, H12, 011). Hmmm, Sucrose lacks one oxygen. So, to break the chain, you need to uptake an oxygen from somewhere...

My guess is that this chemical reaction would account for the 'cidery taste' of brew using too much Sucrose.... The foam in my Invert batch must have been Hydrogen, from water molecules? Does yeast use up free oxygen to 'invert' the Succose, thereby starving the yeast for oxygen??

Does the presence of Hydrogen make light beer? (joke) Is it more hydrogen that makes cideryness, or less Oxygen?

I do think I'll be making it a practise to use Invert syrup for starting,boosting, and priming. from now on. 40 cents/lb, instead of $2 for corn sugar...
 

ohad

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casebrew said:
My guess is that this chemical reaction would account for the 'cidery taste' of brew using too much Sucrose.... The foam in my Invert batch must have been Hydrogen, from water molecules?
that sounds logical... I've done some searching on this subject:

from Wikipedia (Sucrose): "Acidic hydrolysis can be used in laboratories to achieve the hydrolysis of sucrose into glucose and fructose."

from Wikipedia (Hydrolysis):"Hydrolysis is a chemical reaction or process in which a chemical compound is broken down by reaction with water"

so I think you guessed right!
 

Got Trub?

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Brewers yeast has invertase - the enzyme needed to break sucrose down into its component (and fermentable) sugars. There is nothing to be gained by making or buying invert sugar.

Any of the darker sugars will add varying amounts of unfermentable sugars and flavour which may or may not be desirable in your beer.

The dreaded cidery flavour imparted by sugar only occurs if it makes up too large a portion of your fermentables. If it is less then 15-20% there shouldn't be any off flavour - it will however result in a noticeably drier beer...

GT
 

bloodorange

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Here's my question: when a recipe calls for 5% white sugar, does it make a difference whether cane/beet sugar (sucrose) or corn sugar (dextrose/glucose) is used? Does cane sugar have any unique, desirable property at this low proportion? Cost is not a factor, I've got plenty of both...


thanks!
 

brewt00l

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bloodorange said:
Here's my question: when a recipe calls for 5% white sugar, does it make a difference whether cane/beet sugar (sucrose) or corn sugar (dextrose/glucose) is used? Does cane sugar have any unique, desirable property at this low proportion? Cost is not a factor, I've got plenty of both...


thanks!
If you are talking refined white table sugar, either beet or cane will ferment out completely without leaving any real flavor outside of their influence on body/abv since they refined to a point where they don't have any impurities (which do not ferment and create a "flavor")...at that small a percentage, I would use any one of the three as basically interchangeable. YMMV.
 

zoebisch01

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Got Trub? said:
Brewers yeast has invertase - the enzyme needed to break sucrose down into its component (and fermentable) sugars. There is nothing to be gained by making or buying invert sugar.

Any of the darker sugars will add varying amounts of unfermentable sugars and flavour which may or may not be desirable in your beer.

The dreaded cidery flavour imparted by sugar only occurs if it makes up too large a portion of your fermentables. If it is less then 15-20% there shouldn't be any off flavour - it will however result in a noticeably drier beer...

GT
While I agree with the latter twoparagraphs, the first statement although true is not the point of why traditionally people use invert over non-invert. There seems to be a split perception on this in how the yeast spending time to break the bonds into glucose and fructose vs. doing this chemically beforehand and the effect of this on flavor and possibly other aspects (mainly head). I for one have never compared the two exactly, but I have successfully used both. I personally feel that they do indeed produce different results, although this is my own perception.
 

fc36

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I read this article a long while back, but I'm unwilling to reread and check if someone asked the very obvious question of where someone could acquire pure USP citric acid or if plain old lemon juice in the bottle would suffice? Sorry to be so lazy guys, but input is appreciated, especially for those of us rookies on the forums here.
 

Bru

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I can understand the advantage of using plain sucrose vs clear candi sugar is debatable but one can only get that burned sugar taste from amber/dark candi sugar.
My understanding of the chemical reaction of making candi sugar is that acid is required - not nescesarily citric acid. Can someone confirm ?
 

santosvega

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While I agree with the latter twoparagraphs, the first statement although true is not the point of why traditionally people use invert over non-invert. There seems to be a split perception on this in how the yeast spending time to break the bonds into glucose and fructose vs. doing this chemically beforehand and the effect of this on flavor and possibly other aspects (mainly head). I for one have never compared the two exactly, but I have successfully used both. I personally feel that they do indeed produce different results, although this is my own perception.
I've never bothered to investigate or confirm it, but Graham Wheeler, one of the godfathers of homebrewing in the UK, has always insisted that using refined cane sugar as opposed to invert sugar leads to more pronounced and unpleasant hangovers. For example, he claims that Old Speckled Hen, which uses a good percentage of refined cane sugar in the recipe, gives him worse and longer-lasting hangovers than similar bitters made with invert sugars.
 

Denny

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Interesting. Problem is if you prefer to add sugar after a week of fermentation.
I seldom (maybe twice in 377 brews) do that. I usually add sugar for Belgian styles and prefer to add it to the kettle as the Belgians do. And even if you add it to the fermenter, there's no issue with using sugar that isn't inverted.
 

remilard

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I seldom (maybe twice in 377 brews) do that. I usually add sugar for Belgian styles and prefer to add it to the kettle as the Belgians do. And even if you add it to the fermenter, there's no issue with using sugar that isn't inverted.
Sorta. Inverted sugar is generally not flavor neutral like table sugar so you might want to flavor. IMO, clear candi syrup, cane sugar, invert sugar #1, and Lyle's Golden Syrup would all produce a different product (in a suitably subtle beer like a triple or a bitter, if I were adding a clear/white sugar to a strong dark I doubt it makes a difference).

That said people frequently claim to want no flavor contribution from the sugar, just the attenuation, so in that case I agree 100%. Cheapest white sugar you can buy in the kettle.
 

bonsai4tim

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There is a difference between caramelized and dark candi sugar--caramaelize will happen just with heat, and tastes like caramel (duh). Usually at a pretty high temp (sugar solution over 300F, and it happens "just" before it starts to burn.

Dark candi sugar made with yeast nutrient (diammonium posphate) or baking ammonia causes the maillard reaction to occur, at a lower temp than sugar will caramelize at. The maillard reaction changes some of the glucose/sucrose into unfermentable products. More of a toasted marshmallow flavor rather than caramel.
 

Bru

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Thats not correct.
Candi sugar / invert sugar is sucrose which has been converted to fructose and glucose by hydrolysis. This happens when sugar and water is heated. Acid (lemon juice, cream of tarter, lactic, ascorbic etc) accelerates the reaction but is not nescesary.
Yeast nutrient may help fermentation but is not needed to make invert sugar. AFAIK baking ammonia is alkaline.
 

Scimmia

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Thats not correct.
...
Yeast nutrient may help fermentation but is not needed to make invert sugar.
bonsai4tim is correct, he's just way off topic. Clear invert sugar is made just as you describe, but creating the maillard reactions to darken the sugar requires amino acids, which can be provided by DAP. Two completely different things.
 

fc36

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bonsai4tim is correct, he's just way off topic. Clear invert sugar is made just as you describe, but creating the maillard reactions to darken the sugar requires amino acids, which can be provided by DAP. Two completely different things.
Now I'm not an organic chemist, but I am a chemical engineer and I do remember some of the things they taught us in Organic Chemistry (when I wasn't sleeping of course ;)) and the maillard reaction is promoted by alkaline conditions. I confirmed this with a quick search of wikipedia and double-checked that with a quick flip through my old orgo textbook. The added benefit is not only do you get the darkening seen in caramel sugars, but the dark candi sugars also have hundreds if not thousands of other compounds responsible for unique flavors that otherwise would not be seen in caramel sugars and invert or white sugars. So to increase attenuation and alcohol content alone; white sugar, invert sugar and homemade invert sugar will all do the job; but dark candi sugars will also do that and add some very nice flavors and may even flavor the beer a little better than just straight caramel sugars.
 

Bru

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Candi sugar/invert sugar recipes seldomly have added amino acids/DAP and still the sugar darkens. Im not sure if its as a result of caramelization or Mailard reaction but Im assuming its maillard because the added water keeps temperatures down or possibly a combination of both.

bonsai4tim is correct, he's just way off topic. Clear invert sugar is made just as you describe, but creating the maillard reactions to darken the sugar requires amino acids, which can be provided by DAP. Two completely different things.
fc36 - maillard reaction happens during a long boil in acidic wort (?)

Im not argueing with either post, just trying to underdstand the process.
 

Scimmia

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Candi sugar/invert sugar recipes seldomly have added amino acids/DAP and still the sugar darkens. Im not sure if its as a result of caramelization or Mailard reaction but Im assuming its maillard because the added water keeps temperatures down or possibly a combination of both.
Maillard reactions cannot happen without nitrogen, and cane sugar + water (C12H22O11 + H2O) has none. If you're getting color, it's from caramelization. If it's happening below the caramelization temperature of the sugar, you either have a nitrogen source or your heating too fast and scorching (caramelizing) the bottom.

fc36 - maillard reaction happens during a long boil in acidic wort (?)
Maillard reactions are promoted at higher PH, but that doesn't mean they require it. To tell you the truth, I'm still trying to figure out if fc36's post was arguing with mine or agreeing with it. :confused: It seems to be completely out of left field. We're taking the thread WAY off topic at this point.
 

Denny

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Maillard reactions cannot happen without nitrogen, and cane sugar + water (C12H22O11 + H2O) has none. If you're getting color, it's from caramelization. If it's happening below the caramelization temperature of the sugar, you either have a nitrogen source or your heating too fast and scorching (caramelizing) the bottom.
There's plenty of nitrogen in the grain, though.
 

fc36

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:off: My argument was that caramel, invert and white sugars will all increase your OG and attenuation, but don't necessarily have all of the flavor compounds present in dark candi sugars. Caramelized sugars have some flavoring compounds due to the chemical changes imparted by caramelization, but they have not undergone maillard reactions to the degree that is seen in dark candi sugars. Dark candi sugars have been heated in an alkaline solution (i.e. with diammonium phosphate or other chemical) and above 310F. This heavily promotes the maillard reaction and releases a whole host of flavoring compounds that can be attractive in some brews. Invert and white sugars don't have any of these and caramel doesn't have these flavor compounds in anywhere near the concentration of dark candi sugars. Sorry to take this off topic so much.

Anyways, I think invert and white sugars will both be eaten by any hungry yeasties and will do a great job of increasing OG and attenuation, but for added flavor dark candi sugars will fit the bill and caramel sugar is just a waste of money unless you've decided to caramelize your own white sugar.
 

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Caramelized sugars have some flavoring compounds due to the chemical changes imparted by caramelization, but they have not undergone maillard reactions to the degree that is seen in dark candi sugars. Dark candi sugars have been heated in an alkaline solution (i.e. with diammonium phosphate or other chemical) and above 310F. This heavily promotes the maillard reaction and releases a whole host of flavoring compounds that can be attractive in some brews.
This is all very interesting. Does anyone have recommendations on how much DAP to use per lb of table sugar to promote these maillard reactions? I would love to never have to purchase candi syrup again as it is expensive stuff!
 
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