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08/01/08 10:20 AM  
Say we decide to make a tripel roughly based on Westmalle, and thus put together a recipe with 40 IBU and OG 1.090. And of those 90 gravity points, about 70 would come from pale malt and 20 would come from sugar.

I sometimes wonder exactly why we include those 20 points of sugar at all. I know--dryness and "digestibility"--but I'm not talking about replacing the sugar with grain. I'm talking about simply *leaving the sugar out* and thus brewing the beer from malt at 1.070.

I have some thoughts on why we might want the sugar, or not, but I'll save them for the moment. I'm wondering what you all think, about what exactly the benefits are from adding the sugar.

08/01/08 12:07 PM  
Re: Sugar
Using the sugar results in three significant changes:

1. more dryness

2. thinner body / mouthfeel

3. underlying residual sugar flavors that add to the overall complexity.

I can pretty much etect in any beer when some form of candi syrup or candi sugar, even some of the more exoctic sugars which impart deeper residual flavors.

Leaving the sugar out will remove all of the effects listed above. The beer will be maltier / sweeter with more body and a less complex flavor profile.

08/01/08 12:23 PM  
Re: Sugar
Cisco, are you saying you believe a beer that has 70 gravity points from malt plus 20 points from sugar will have more dryness and thinner body than a beer that has 70 points from malt and 0 points from sugar?

(BTW, I should have clarified that my question is about the addition of a pure sugar such as glucose or sucrose, that is 100% fermentable with no flavorful impurities.)

08/01/08 12:41 PM  
Re: Sugar
Yes sir!
08/01/08 12:47 PM  
Re: Sugar
mmmm... alcohol is why you want it at 1.090 vs. 1.070. and from either grain or sugar.

you'll get alcohol either way, just easier drinkability with sugar. petec

08/01/08 01:31 PM  
Re: Sugar
I think I get the jist of your question....

If sugar adds no flavor or body then what's the point of adding it.....?

I've added dextrose to a couple of saisons lately but only to create more perceivable dryness and thin out the body....

08/01/08 02:39 PM  
Re: Sugar
Alcohol in beer adds many of it's own distinctive flavors and aromatics. It is not flavorless or odorless by any stretch. By using sugar to increase gravity, we can increase gravity, alcohol volume (flavors, aromatics) and attenuation (dryness, digestability).

Not to mention, yeasts will react differntly (read: flavors, aromatics, alcohols) with wort gravity or when the wort composition has changed.

08/01/08 04:03 PM  
Re: Sugar
Thanks for all your thoughts. Some them are along the lines of what I've been thinking, but others I'm not sure I agree with.

To my mind the sugar has two (likely only two) really significant effects:

1. 20 points of sugar gives ~2.5% more ethanol (by volume)

2. the yeast makes different byproducts when it ferments this sugar. And we can be more specific--my thoughts are

- ethyl esters: will increase with sugar

- fusels: modest increase with sugar

- acetate esters: increase, but not as significant because we can control much of this by changing yeast variables (pitch rate, O2)

- VDKs: possibly an increase but again we can control these (bring them back down) with pitch rate, O2, etc

So overall I see the effects of adding the 20 pts of sugar as an 2.5% increase in ABV, more ethyl esters, and a bit more fusels. If everyone believes that (?) then the question is what effect these have.

Cisco says he thinks the beer will be drier if sugar is added. I am not sure I agree--I would expect these extra substances (ethanol, ethyl ester, fusel) to, if anything, add a bit of sweetness. With ethanol this is easily tested by adding everclear to a blond beer and blind tasting--anyone have some lying around?

Cisco also says the beer will thin out, and I agree at least to some extent. There will be the same amount/size of dextrins and proteins in each beer, but the alcohol will thin it out a bit. Say the FG of the all malt 1.070 beer is 1.011. I calculate that adding 2.5% ethanol by volume will decrease the density to ABOUT 1.006--how much that affects the perception of "fullness" is again easily testable with everclear and a ~7% all-malt beer like Abbaye de Rocs Blonde.

Ross says alcohol adds many of its own distinctive flavors and aromatics. I'd submit that the only flavors and aromatics it adds are those of everclear, unless the addition of 2.5% ABV drives significant chemical reactions producing esters, etc (from what I've seen I don't think that's likely). On the other hand maybe it enhances our perception of some flavors, or delivers them to our tongue better (like vodka in tomato sauce), or some such. I think I agree that ethanol adds more than just "kick." (and of course the kick itself might be nice as pete points out)

I feel confident that adding sugar adds complexity on the "ethereal" side of things (alcohols and esters). And I am certain that the final density of the beer will be lower.

I still wonder how much the lower density + more alcohol impacts the sensations of body and dryness (or sweetness). Split batches would be revealing of course, but I also think you could learn a lot just from the everclear blind taste tests.

08/01/08 04:16 PM  
Re: Sugar
or 100 proof vodka, adding say 5 mL to 100 mL of beer, and then comparing it to 100 mL of beer to which 2.5 mL of pure water has been added.
08/01/08 04:25 PM  
Re: Sugar

I've been brewing using different types of sugars in my beers for many, many years (28 years now) and have brewed the same recipe without the sugar but added more malt to compensate. Of course they were totally different beers that resulted but always reproducible. I guess the only way you'll know that Ross and I are correct is to try it and make two batches, one with sugar and one without to prove it to yourself. Also I wouldn't use regular table sugar, use a sugar with character because you'll learn more from the experiment and the beer WILL have a more complex flavor profile. Stop over thinking and trying to pre-guess the outcome and learn from the experience of others and discover it yourself by just doing it. To be a good brewer you need to open up the artisinal side of your brain and stop relying so much on the mathematical side, you'll learn so much more. 8^)

08/01/08 05:08 PM  
Re: Sugar
I agree... experimentation is the only way to really find out....

The first two al-saison-blend beers I did both had different sugar adjuncts, the first with honey and the second with just plain dextrose. The first beer is significantly fruitier, and even though the fg was somewhere around 1.004-1.006 the taste seems sweet upfront from all of the character the honey provides. The second dextrose beer has a tad of malty sweetness up front but quickly dissapates into hoppy dryness. MUCH cleaner.

I've often found the flavor of the hard candi that is commonly used in belgian homebrews to leave a significantly sweeter taste or flavor even though the beer is dry, compared to the use of dextrose.

08/01/08 06:05 PM  
Re: Sugar
"I've been brewing using different types of sugars in my beers for many, many years (28 years now) and have brewed the same recipe without the sugar but added more malt to compensate."

This is exactly the situation I said I was NOT talking about. This is a typo, right?

As for the rest--maybe that ridiculous AZ heat has gone to your head. I think you vastly overestimate your understanding of what I'm all about.

It's plenty hot here too though, and the other day I vastly overestimated how long a box of Otter Pops would last me. I calculated how many I'd have in a day, and divided that into the number of Otter Pops. But then the artisanal side of my brain realized that not only do Alexander the Grape and Strawberry Short Kook look good together--they also taste good together. So I melted down all the Alexander the Grapes and Strawberry Short Kooks into a punchbowl (there was 450 mL) and I mixed it 80/20 with Everclear for a blind tasting against 450 mL of Floris Ninkeberry. The mathematical side of my brain figured I could drink 900 mL of OtterClear and the Ninke in about 9 seconds, but that too was a vast overestimation and I quickly threw up on my calculator. Anyway the Ninkeberry won by default, cause their packaging is far superior ever since the Otter Pops went away from a full color character on each pop. This post might be better for the other board at this point actually. To bring it back to brewing, table sugar is brilliant, and people probably thought Jean De Clerck went overboard with the technical crap too. Now I'm no Jean De Clerck, but I am on good terms with Sir Issac Lime.

08/01/08 06:11 PM  
Re: Sugar
Baums - thanks for the great laugh on a boring Friday afternoon at work. I really did have a good chuckle reading about the Otter Pops. I still can't stop laughing!
08/01/08 06:15 PM  
Re: Sugar
<<This is exactly the situation I said I was NOT talking about. This is a typo, right?>>

You missed the next sentence:

Of course they were totally different beers that resulted but always reproducible.

08/02/08 09:52 AM  
Re: Sugar
After adding plain beet sugar to wort and fermenting it into beer.....I've noticed distinctive rose, cherry and/or strawberry qualities. I've never tasted those qualities in grain alcohol...(yes, I've tasted Everclear):) Maybe it is the alcohol somehow enhancing the perception of other flavors; then again, maybe not. Not to sound like I'm bragging, but I'm very sensitive to various constituents in beer especially alcohol, diacytel, and sulpher compounds. It's like a curse. Anyway, point is, maybe I'm tasting the alcohol component of what the sugar brings to the table. I'm not sure what the mechanism is, but something is up. It's like trying to understand why Cisco is so handsome.....it's mother nature; it's the way IT IS.
08/02/08 10:39 AM  
Re: Sugar
What about brewing the 1.070 beer and 1.090 beer in separate batches. After fermentation is complete, blend some Everclear with the 1.070 brew to bring it up to the 1.090 specs....send the samples to me for blind tasting. I'll supply the blind fold. 8^) Voila!!! Instant Westmalle Tripel, Just Add Alcohol!!!
08/03/08 02:42 PM  
Re: Sugar
I'd propose adding a third significant effect of sugar (to Baums's list of 1) increased ethanol and 2) esterification and production of other byproducts:

Specifically, the variable flavor compounds produced in Maillard reactions -- assuming, of course, that the sugar in question is a ketose or aldose.

Seanywonton (Sean White)
08/04/08 10:52 AM  
Re: Sugar
It also increases the Belgianiness.
08/04/08 11:08 AM  
Re: Sugar
Cisco: We're still not on the same page. You're comparing the addition of sugar to the addition of "more malt to compensate" and I would agree with you on that case. But I'm comparing the addition of sugar to the addition of nothing.

Ross: those extra fruity/floral qualities you get when adding plain sugar to a recipe--I tend to get results that could probably be described that way too. This is what I'm trying to get at when I say I'm confident that adding sugar tends to increase the "ethereal" or even perfumey side. (Either thru more esters, more alcohols, or some effect of alcohol on what we smell/taste.)

I think an experiment along the lines you mention would be great. Problem for me is I am busy with some other (brett-ish) experiments for the forseeable future. But I do think I may actually do the experiment at some point. (And if someone wants to beat me to it, that would be great--I do think splitting a batch would be easiest and best, to avoid any (gasp) inconsistency in the two base worts.)

Mark: That's interesting. I would guess any such effect could be removed by adding the sugar late in the boil?

Seanywonton (Sean White)
08/04/08 11:41 AM  
Re: Sugar
Alcohol also increases the perceived sweetness. This may be why we get some of those "dry but sweet" flavors in certain beers, maybe best exemplified by Duvel and the like. Very dry finish, but because of the relatively high ethanol, more perceived sweetness.
08/04/08 12:24 PM  
Re: Sugar
Yeah, I agree Sean. It may come down to what you mean by "sweet" in the first place.
08/04/08 01:04 PM  
Re: Sugar
Baums: "That's interesting. I would guess any such effect could be removed by adding the sugar late in the boil?"

To the limited degree that I understand the reaction, I think that is right. In my view, we are definitely talking about "ethereal" taste profiles with the Maillard reaction, and I think this is exactly what accounts for some of the wonders of Westvleteren.

I am definitely on board for an experiment along these lines -- it is a good question, and an easy enough experiment to control.

08/18/08 06:38 PM  
Re: Sugar
I done about 10 batches now with Dan Sukker (liquid beet sugar), and find that when it's added early in the boil and boiled for 2 hours, the sugar does add significantly to the darkness of the wort.

Last batch was an 8 gallon fermentation (two carboys), made with 13 lbs of Weyerman Pale and 1 container or Dan Sukker Dark, and fermented with Ardennes and Duvel yeast. It darkened to a rust color in the kettle, and seemed to have gotten even darker during fermentation (is this possible?). It's almost dark enough to call a dubble, and is starting to develop coconut notes while resting in secondary (after about 2.5 months).

I didn't start out to make a dubble, but I wanted to see what straight pale malt and dark Dan Sukker would taste and look like.

08/19/08 10:35 AM  
Re: Sugar
I can't say why your beer darkened during fermentation (assuming it wasn't just yeast drop-out that made it appear darker) but, like apple slices, beers definitely darken over time due to oxidation, if oxygen is available.
08/19/08 11:09 AM  
Re: Sugar
The beer darkens during fermentation because the suspended particulate matter (proteins & yeast) that reflects light settles to the bottom and the real color of the beer can now be seen.
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