Is it invert sugar or something else?

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hotbeer

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I made some invert sugar for a porter recipe I brewed today. Up until now, it's just something I only knew the name of. So I'm not sure what it's physical characteristics should be.

I used the procedures I found here...

I was going for invert #3 which is the very dark. However I turned my back briefly at the wrong time and I think I went well beyond that as the temp shot up to 380°F. However it actually had some interesting tastes to it so I went ahead and used it in the porter.

My main question is how does invert sugar behave when it's cool? I thought it was going to be a thick gooey syrup, but what I made became a hard solid piece of sugar, much like a hard butterscotch candy... except for being on the darker side of blackish-red.

Any other pointers or just FYI on it will be appreciated.
 
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hotbeer

hotbeer

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Sounds like hard candi but your temps went higher than listed in this article.
Oh thanks. Pretty much the same recipe but easier reading. Or at least the thoughts were assembled better for me.
My dark invert is usually "soft ball" stage.
That didn't seem very dark to me when I reached soft ball. But that's relative to the individual. Perhaps I should have just tried to hold that temp for a period of time instead of letting it go higher.
Might just be darker in color and flavor than you intended
Yeah, I hope so. As I said the sugar had some interesting flavors in it. So that's why I used it instead of making more.

I haven't made any porters or stouts before and tend to always drink a IPA or light ale, pilsner or lager of some sort. Long ago before I started brewing my own I go on a kick of drinking dark porters and stouts. But that's been quit a while.

Here's a picture of it. Can't even see any light through the sight glass. Yeast seems to be churning quite well though and it's only been a tad over 16 hours since pitch. I have no idea what it should look like at this stage.

porter1.jpg



porter2.jpg

The recipe had it at 37.5 srm. I think I've hit at least that.
 

AkTom

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It’s looking good! I’d be willing to bet good money that it’ll be delicious.
 

DBhomebrew

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Perhaps I should have just tried to hold that temp for a period of time instead of letting it go higher

There are a few different methods to make invert. I use the keep it at 240° until it looks dark enough method. Up to 240° on the stove, held at temp in the oven. These samples start at the point I put it in the oven, the darkest is 3 or so hours. All at 240°, just a matter of time.

20210608_174955.jpg
 

cmac62

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When its still hot you can add water back in to make it a syrup. I'm not an expert, but I do simples for cocktails and if you get it up to high it will crystalize. Also I thought invert did not set up like regular sugar. From "Good Eats" you can also add a little corn sugar to it to keep it from crystalizing as the CS gets in the way of sucrose making the crystals. I have 2-1 simple that stays liquid with a tbls of CS added. Good luck.
 

kevin58

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I question any invert sugar recipe that says to use corn sugar or white sugar as the links shared above suggest. The most authentic recipe I've found and the one I use exclusively comes from Ron Pattinson's book, The Homebrewers Guide to Vintage Beer. It says to use: cane sugar (not table sugar), citric acid and water. He even includes an SRM scale (and color chart) to guide you...
#1 = 12 to 16 SRM
#2 = 30 to 35 SRM
#3 = 60 to 70 SRM
#4 = 275 to 325 SRM
 

hout17

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I question any invert sugar recipe that says to use corn sugar or white sugar as the links shared above suggest. The most authentic recipe I've found and the one I use exclusively comes from Ron Pattinson's book, The Homebrewers Guide to Vintage Beer. It says to use: cane sugar (not table sugar), citric acid and water. He even includes an SRM scale (and color chart) to guide you...
#1 = 12 to 16 SRM
#2 = 30 to 35 SRM
#3 = 60 to 70 SRM
#4 = 275 to 325 SRM
I've been using turbinado sugar to make my invert following Ron's instructions. It's my understanding that turbinado is very similar to demerara sugar.
 

bracconiere

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am i wrong thinking, you're all trying to make carmelized sugar not just invert? because i used to have a jug of invertase enzyme..
 

scrap iron

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I question any invert sugar recipe that says to use corn sugar or white sugar as the links shared above suggest. The most authentic recipe I've found and the one I use exclusively comes from Ron Pattinson's book, The Homebrewers Guide to Vintage Beer. It says to use: cane sugar (not table sugar), citric acid and water. He even includes an SRM scale (and color chart) to guide you...
#1 = 12 to 16 SRM
#2 = 30 to 35 SRM
#3 = 60 to 70 SRM
#4 = 275 to 325 SRM
In the US table sugar is cane sugar and I hear in Europe is mostly beet. I've read to use unrefined or minimal refined sugar. I use demerara and turbinado. The corn syrup is added only a few tablespoons to keep the invert from crystallizing and is not a main ingredient This is what I understand anyway.
 
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hotbeer

hotbeer

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Whether it's table sugar or a less pure cane sugar it can still be made into inverted sugar.

However the less pure sugars will be more likely to have more or stronger flavors. And depending on what one is wanting their beer to be, then either might be the correct choice, IMO.

I used table sugar for this batch simply because it was closer to me at the time and I knew I had more of it.
 

McMullan

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I wouldn't worry about it. The most important thing is to use quality unrefined cane sugar, in my experience. Inverting sucrose by heating (with a lowered pH) helps develop subtle luscious flavours. And it - converting sucrose to glucose and fructose - likely saves the yeast synthesising a lot of invertase, so facilitates fermentation. It probably makes a difference if adding, say, 15-20% sugar to a recipe. If 'crack' is achieved and you end up with an 'English candi sugar', so what, I'm sure it's going to be fine regardless. Consider Belgian candi sugar. I adjust my homemade invert #1 with molasses, to get #2, #3 and occasionally #4. If I run out and haven't got time to make any on the day, I'll just add dissolved cane sucrose and molasses to the end of the boil or in the FV. Still nice.
 

kevin58

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In the US table sugar is cane sugar and I hear in Europe is mostly beet. I've read to use unrefined or minimal refined sugar. I use demerara and turbinado. The corn syrup is added only a few tablespoons to keep the invert from crystallizing and is not a main ingredient This is what I understand anyway.

In my experience properly made invert sugars should not crystalize.
 
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hotbeer

hotbeer

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In my experience properly made invert sugars should not crystalize.

Just because a sugar hardens, doesn't mean it's crystalized. Or at least from what I've read and been told. But none being particularly scholarly sources.

So are you saying that sugars can't be both inverted and hard at the same time?
 

McMullan

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I hear in Europe is mostly beet
This is correct, but Britain remains by far the biggest market for cane sugar in Europe. I'd guess Britain is actually the main market in Europe. It's an interesting story, not just much better culinary wise. Long story short. Cane sugar became a valuable commodity. Europeans couldn't get enough of it. The British navy were ordered to block all cane sugar imports to continental Europe during the Napoleonic War. Beet sugar became the alternative for most of Europe. They will swear blind it's just the same as cane sugar, but it isn't. Maybe highly refined they're comparable, but highly refined sucrose is boring, one-dimensional, sweetness.

In my experience properly made invert sugars should not crystalize.
Brewing inverts are usually sold as crystalline blocks in Britain. It requires extra steps in the process, but I think it makes it more manageable to distribute and use in the brewery. But otherwise, yes, a syrup.
 
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hotbeer

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Brewing inverts are usually sold as crystalline blocks in Britain
That's one of the things I was wondering. Because what I made hardened, I was wondering if it was actually inverted sugar.

I too was thinking that making it and letting it harden would make it easier for me to store and handle. Instead of this stuff they made in the recipe I posted and other places that seemed to say put it in the refrigerator.

As it cooled, I could shape it and score or cut it into any size I wanted. And it seemed to dissolve quick enough in the hot water I pre-dissolved it in before adding before flame out.
 
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hotbeer

hotbeer

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Also, why do should I care if it is or isn't invert sugar?

If it adds the color and other flavors I'm after, then does being inverted really matter?
 

rhys333

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That's one of the things I was wondering. Because what I made hardened, I was wondering if it was actually inverted sugar.

I too was thinking that making it and letting it harden would make it easier for me to store and handle. Instead of this stuff they made in the recipe I posted and other places that seemed to say put it in the refrigerator.

As it cooled, I could shape it and score or cut it into any size I wanted. And it seemed to dissolve quick enough in the hot water I pre-dissolved it in before adding before flame out.

Through my own experiments making invert sugars I discovered something about the difference between cane and beet. It's not discussed in online sources that I've read, but beet sugar will crystallize or act unpredictably whereas cane sugar will not. Every time I've tried to make invert syrup with beet it siezes up on me. Cane stays as a liquid.
 

McMullan

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Also, why do should I care if it is or isn't invert sugar?
It's entirely up to the brewer to decide. For me: Inverting sucrose by heating (with a lowered pH) helps develop subtle luscious flavours. And it likely saves the yeast synthesising a lot of invertase, so facilitates fermentation, especially in recipes with a high % of added sugar.
If it adds the color and other flavors I'm after, then does being inverted really matter?
Again, it's entirely up to the brewer to decide. There is no wrong or right way to do it.
 

McMullan

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A simple test for unrefined cane vs beet sugar is to make biscuits. (There's no such thing as unrefined beet sugar - it has to be highly refined to be palatable.) A simple Scottish shortbread recipe leaves no doubts in our house. Unrefined cane caster sugar is 'next level'. Once convinced, add some dried currants or cranberries. And put the tea on 🫖
 

kevin58

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Just because a sugar hardens, doesn't mean it's crystalized. Or at least from what I've read and been told. But none being particularly scholarly sources.

So are you saying that sugars can't be both inverted and hard at the same time?
No, but I have been making my own for many years and none have ever crystalized or hardened even after long storage.
 
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