Why is Sugar Necessary in My Home Brew Process?

Quick – name something intriguing and sweet that also produces beer and liquor. No, not your favorite bartender – it’s sugar. This complex ingredient is not only a vital component in the creation of home brew products, it’s also a large part of the taste profile that gives various liquids their drinkable personalities. While some sugars are simply added during the initial brewing process, others contribute simply by existing in ingredients such as fruits for wines. Sugar isn’t simply a one-note contributor, either; while the overall level of sugar used in a home brew needs to be monitored, blends of different types of sugars can produce a full-bodied and delicious spirit.
Feeding The Yeast
For something so small, yeast packs a big punch. This one-celled organism is responsible for the fermentation, otherwise known as breaking down sugars to turn them into alcohol, process of home brewing. According to popular how-to site HowStuffWorks, “yeasts obtain food from fructose, glucose, and other monosaccharaides (simple sugars), which are found in most fruits.” This means that without the addition of some sort of sugar in sufficient quantities during the brewing process, you’ll end up with an old bottle of yeast-filled grape juice instead of a smooth wine. Feeding yeast sugar also produces carbonation, a necessary component to satisfying home-brewed beers.
Adjusting To Your Taste
When it comes to sugar, these sweet powerhouses aren’t just workhorses. Beyond the fermentation process, sugar also makes a finished spirit palatable, helping to balance stronger flavors like hops or slightly bitter flavors like herbal additives. Sugar can also be a final flourish during bottling, as well. A recent article from the San Antonio Current follows home brewer Jerry Lockey as he adds extra sugar prior to siphoning his latest project into bottles. In the article, Lockey explains to the Current that this last dash of sugar helps further ferment the new beer as it ages.
Sugar comes in several different varieties for home brewing projects, such as corn sugar and light and dark candied sugar for brewing various types of ales. Stumped for what sugars will work best with your brew? With a full range of articles, advice, and helpful customer service agents, the Adventures in Homebrewing website has all the “sweet” knowledge you’ll need to bottle a sensational spirit. Once you find the right sugars for your project, ferment something fantastic and you’ll discover just how impressive a single home brewing ingredient can be.