Pour Some Sugar On Beer

Step inside… walk this way… You and me Beer, Hey Hey!… suppose you’ve been brewing beer and just can’t seem to get your beer to get a nice body (in beer terms, not Jessica Biel terms) and you’re about ready to quit brewing if your watered-down beer doesn’t improve… Well allow me to tell you why you are brewing Bud Lights… I mean watered down beer…

First off, brewing beer is about working with sugars. Take a bottle, shake it up… break the bubble, break it up… Pour Some Sugar On Beer… but before you do so, be sure to know when and what type of sugar to add to avoid light bodied beers.  Not…

Sometime, anytime, sugar me sweet….

Yeah, I know you are just following the kit instructions which tell you to add a couple of pounds of table sugar… Oooh in the name of love…. but when you pour some sugar on your wort you are diluting the nutrients, Free Amino Nitrogen, available to the yeast to ferment properly.

Now I’m not exactly Dmitri Mendeleev, but I do recall a thing or two from my chemistry classes. And one thing I’ve come to learn is that when you dilute something it doesn’t work as well as it does without diluting whatever that something is…  So any refined sugars you plan on using for your wort like table sugar, corn sugar or honey will dilute the nutrients of the wort and therefore will not allow the yeast to reproduce as well.

Wort without nutrients not only lacks the ability to ferment efficiently, but it also causes by-products and off flavors. And don’t worry if your beer has turned out bad because of this. Guess what? I (gasp) too make mistakes. That’s what normal, fallible humanoids do.

Moving on…

Yeast is used to eat up the sugars in your wort which brings down the gravity reading. I believe this is called fermentation and if I’m not mistaken, it’s what you want your beer to do when you leave it sitting for days with that bubbly thingy going nuts. Now, to get heavier bodied beers you’ll want a higher final gravity but not by incomplete fermentation…. Instead…

Listen! Red light, yellow light, green-a-light go! get some dextrins and add to your wort…

These unfermentable sugars and other proteins are good ways to increase the final gravity of your brew without compromising fermentation. You can also add more malt extract instead of sugar to increase your Original Gravity reading and Final Gravity…

To see the difference proteins have on the mouthfeel and body of the beer, try out an oatmeal stout and a regular stout and you’ll notice the difference.

Now, just because the table sugar you’ve been using is ruining what would otherwise be a masterpiece, it doesn’t mean you should throw it away. Sure you can save it for the time the hot neighbor comes knocking on you door to get some sugar for her coffee. Or set your priorities right and use it to prime your beer, unless she doesn’t want to be “just friends” of course… The rule of thumb (Or rule of wrist as Conner MacManus would say) is that darker sugars are used to prime heavier, darker beers.

Also keep in mind that sucrose-based sugars like honey will add some flavor to the beer so use plain sucrose if you want to carbonate your beer without adding flavor.

Well that’s it for this Razzle ‘n’ a Dazzle ‘n’ a Flash a little blog… gotta go ‘n’ plan what I’m gonna brew next…

2 Comments

  • rich loesche

    Reply Reply August 9, 2010

    Jorge,

    After adopting three beer kits it use time to get some insight and try them. When I found you and brew beer and drink it the time was right. First two kits were basic water, DME, yeast and sugar. The 14 bottles that followed were plain but drinkable. The third was geared toward 5 gallon brews. The past owner wanted to make dark stouts. I like a stout but rather have a red ale or brown ale not bitter. All the yeasts were well over five years old. Ordered up new ale yeast to get started. [safebrew t58 ]From another I picked up 12 pounds of grain and more hardware. Taking an inventory and then logging on to beer calculus a plan was made. Brown ale four gallons estimated OG 1.083 light hop not to dark.
    Starting with the grains
    3gallons water
    1 pound gambrinus belvarin honey
    2 pounds Munich light
    2 oz roasted barley
    2 oz black patent
    Steep at 160^ for 45 mins
    good start OG 1.083
    in a second pot
    one gallon water
    the famous Irish stout LME 4 pounds
    3 pounds sugar
    with the two combined
    and brought to a boil
    at 30 mins. 2 oz hallertau hops were added
    60 mins cool down
    then the new T58 and old edme was added
    lets check the OG
    WOW it is up there 1.220
    maybe it is time to ask for advice
    4 gallons in 5 gallon bucket I have O2 for the yeast to grow
    so should I just wait till OG is down to 1.055 and go to next step or wait till the OG will go no lower or split it into two buckets and add water to bring the OG down?

    Thank You
    I read but over my head
    Rich

    • Jorge

      Reply Reply August 9, 2010

      Rich,

      I am not sure if I understand the process you followed, but I’m going to assume a few things and guide you as best as possible.

      When you took the OG at 1.220 did you take it with the 4 gallons of water? That sounds like a gravity reading you would get with one gallon of water.

      1.220 OG is too high. Usually the highest you will see is about 1.105 – 1.110 with russian imperial stouts or special high alcohol beers, but those will require more yeast to be fully attenuated.

      Something in your recipe is not right. As far as making a Red or Brown ale out of a Irish Stout kit is not exactly something you can do. Irish Stout kits are usually made primarily with Roasted Barley to give the beer a dry finish and mild bitterness.

      Red ales are just base plain malt extract (like Extra light DME or Light DME) plus Caramel Malt. Brown ales are just the base malt plus Chocolate malt and a little caramel malt. Some may have some roasted barley for color adjustment.

      I think the sugar is what is out of place in this recipe, but even with sugar you can still get beer out of this. In doing the math, it looks like you should have an OG of about 1.077 and not 1.220. You should be getting a Final Gravity of about 1.019.

      I would just leave the beer ferment and check for gravity readings there. 3 pounds of sugar is going to make beer extra dry and hopefully not cidery.

      Jorge

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