Author Topic: adding sugar to raise OG?  (Read 345 times)

Offline Chris C

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adding sugar to raise OG?
« on: June 30, 2020, 11:32:04 PM »
I've seen some homebrewers talk about adding sugar at the end of a boil to raise OG and get a higher ABV.  Does this work?  Seems like it has a lot of potential to mess up the taste/fermenting.  I've been dabbling in IIPA's, and if I can get the same results from a little extra sugar instead of the extra grains/boil time, I'm so down!

Offline dannyjed

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Re: adding sugar to raise OG?
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2020, 11:40:40 PM »
First, you can add it anytime during the boil. Second, most IIPA’s have sugar added because it can increase gravity without adding additional body to the beer. Sugar is basically 100% fermentable.  Third, many Belgian styles have sugars added sometimes up to and over 20% of the grain bill. I use 1 lb of table sugar to my Double IPA for a 5 gallon batch. Last, no worries about weird flavors because it leaves no flavor behind unless maybe you use more than 50% of the grain bill.


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Re: adding sugar to raise OG?
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2020, 11:42:30 PM »
Does it work? Yes. To get the same results as additional grain? No. In high-gravity beers like IIPA (depending on your tastes) it can be an essential part of the style since the simple sugar is fully fermentable and won't contribute to your FG.
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Offline chinaski

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Re: adding sugar to raise OG?
« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2020, 04:00:36 PM »
Sugar will lower your FG, resulting in a drier beer with a cleaner finish.  This helps "drinkability;" allowing bigger beers to not become too cloying or full so drinkers will want another pint.

Offline smkranz

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adding sugar to raise OG?
« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2020, 07:10:57 PM »
I’ve read (maybe in Yeast by White/Zainasheff) that adding simple sugars to a big beer is best done a few days after primary starts rather than up front. Yeast will consume them first and can expire before they get to the more complex maltose, so waiting until most of the maltose is gone before adding simple sugars will result in a more thorough fermentation.  While I haven’t done a comparison brew of the same high gravity wort to compare results, I have had fermentations with sugar added up front poop out early. The theory made sense to me after reading that, and I’ve been following that practice for a bunch of years with good success.


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Offline denny

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Re: adding sugar to raise OG?
« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2020, 07:24:31 PM »
I’ve read (maybe in Yeast by White/Zainasheff) that adding simple sugars to a big beer is best done a few days after primary starts rather than up front. Yeast will consume them first and can expire before they get to the more complex maltose, so waiting until most of the maltose is gone before adding simple sugars will result in a more thorough fermentation.  While I haven’t done a comparison brew of the same high gravity wort to compare results, I have had fermentations with sugar added up front poop out early. The theory made sense to me after reading that, and I’ve been following that practice for a bunch of years with good success.


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I haven't found any difference between adding in the kettle or the fermenter.
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Offline erockrph

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Re: adding sugar to raise OG?
« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2020, 08:37:46 PM »
I’ve read (maybe in Yeast by White/Zainasheff) that adding simple sugars to a big beer is best done a few days after primary starts rather than up front. Yeast will consume them first and can expire before they get to the more complex maltose, so waiting until most of the maltose is gone before adding simple sugars will result in a more thorough fermentation.  While I haven’t done a comparison brew of the same high gravity wort to compare results, I have had fermentations with sugar added up front poop out early. The theory made sense to me after reading that, and I’ve been following that practice for a bunch of years with good success.


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I haven't found any difference between adding in the kettle or the fermenter.
Same here. Maybe for a huge 18%+ ABV beer you might see some benefit from late, incremental additions, but for something like a big Belgian or IIPA you can just add it all in. This is one of those theories that makes sense when you think about it, but doesn't actually hold true in practice.
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Offline jeffy

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Re: adding sugar to raise OG?
« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2020, 08:43:23 PM »
I’ve read (maybe in Yeast by White/Zainasheff) that adding simple sugars to a big beer is best done a few days after primary starts rather than up front. Yeast will consume them first and can expire before they get to the more complex maltose, so waiting until most of the maltose is gone before adding simple sugars will result in a more thorough fermentation.  While I haven’t done a comparison brew of the same high gravity wort to compare results, I have had fermentations with sugar added up front poop out early. The theory made sense to me after reading that, and I’ve been following that practice for a bunch of years with good success.


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I haven't found any difference between adding in the kettle or the fermenter.
Same here. Maybe for a huge 18%+ ABV beer you might see some benefit from late, incremental additions, but for something like a big Belgian or IIPA you can just add it all in. This is one of those theories that makes sense when you think about it, but doesn't actually hold true in practice.
There is some truth in it though.  Pitching yeast into a higher gravity wort takes more yeast mass or cells, so adding the sugar after fermentation is underway gives a smaller yeast starter a head start.  It probably doesn’t make too much difference, but I like to add the sugar after my yeast gets going.
(In the next post Denny will suggest pitching more yeast.)
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Offline denny

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Re: adding sugar to raise OG?
« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2020, 09:16:19 PM »
I’ve read (maybe in Yeast by White/Zainasheff) that adding simple sugars to a big beer is best done a few days after primary starts rather than up front. Yeast will consume them first and can expire before they get to the more complex maltose, so waiting until most of the maltose is gone before adding simple sugars will result in a more thorough fermentation.  While I haven’t done a comparison brew of the same high gravity wort to compare results, I have had fermentations with sugar added up front poop out early. The theory made sense to me after reading that, and I’ve been following that practice for a bunch of years with good success.


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I haven't found any difference between adding in the kettle or the fermenter.
Same here. Maybe for a huge 18%+ ABV beer you might see some benefit from late, incremental additions, but for something like a big Belgian or IIPA you can just add it all in. This is one of those theories that makes sense when you think about it, but doesn't actually hold true in practice.
There is some truth in it though.  Pitching yeast into a higher gravity wort takes more yeast mass or cells, so adding the sugar after fermentation is underway gives a smaller yeast starter a head start.  It probably doesn’t make too much difference, but I like to add the sugar after my yeast gets going.
(In the next post Denny will suggest pitching more yeast.)

Yep.  And keep in mind I'm not a cell count kinda guy.  Matters little to me.  Yeast vitality is what I look for.  Like erockrph said, it's more theoretical than actual.
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Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: adding sugar to raise OG?
« Reply #9 on: July 04, 2020, 12:05:04 PM »
I used to add it at high krausen, but yeast pitch vitality and yeast choice seem to be the most important factors here, with vitality by far the most significant of the two.
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