Question about Adding Sugar

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Sep 9, 2021
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I was following a recipe for making a Saison ale, and didn't realize that the 3 gallon boil I was doing gets 2 gallons of water added to it once it's in the fermenter. Although I still followed the recipe, I didn't realize how much lower my original gravity was going to be than anticipated; I was expecting a 1.0583 OG from 5 pounds of malt extract added to 3 gallons, but when added to 5 gallons turned out to be only 1.035 OG. This would give me a much lower ABV than desired, my yeast has an attenuation of 75% and at 1.035 id be at a measly 3.45% ABV. I decided to add a pound of white granulated sugar (I did 2 cups, to be exact) and i've never used sugar before to bump the ABV. the added sugar only makes up 17% of the total gravity, but i'm still worried about a couple things:

was it okay that I added the sugar at the beginning of the fermenting process? I read that you're supposed to add it after a few days so the yeast doesn't get "lazy". What are the consequences of me adding it with the rest of my LME?

How much will this change the composition of my beer? I understand it will be a lighter in body, but how much compared to had I not added it? Also, if my yeasts attenuation is 75%, does that mean i'm going to have a quarter pound of sugar dissolved in my final product? Everything online says adding sugar doesn't sweeten the beer as it's completely fermented, but at a 75% attenuation rate won't that leave 25% of the sugar in my beer? If that's the case, will my beer taste super sweet?


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Mar 22, 2021
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Kansas City
Without knowing the type of yeast, it will likely still ferment out the sugar entirely at those gravity levels. Almost all common beer yeasts will churn through those levels. It will make your beer thinner, and more alcohol forward (but probably no added sweetness). But it won't be terrible. 17% sugar is not a crazy-high percentage. So ride it out, and it will probably be fine.

And adding sugar earlier likely won't have much noticeable effect. It's often added during the boil (which also helps protect against infection - but sugar is pretty inherently sanitized anyway). The "lazy" yeast effect matters more for higher gravity beers where the limits of the yeast are approached.

In the future, it helps to keep a few extra pounds of DME onhand in case your original gravity is too low. Just boil it in small amount of water and add it to the wort for an easy gravity bump.