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Subject: ABV Booster Comparison
Author: FrankenBeerStein
May 31st, 2011
4:17 am
On some of the posts talking about agave nectar as just a booster to the ABV, and not necessarily for flavor, suggestions have been made to add just plain table sugar. What are the pros and cons of using the more readily available and (let's admit it) much cheaper sugar as opposed to such things as Belgian Candi Sugar, honey, or agave nectar, working under the assumption that it is purely for alcohol volume boosting and NOT for color or flavor....


This is for an American IPA from a homebrew supply store using with the following recipe. The calculators tell me adding 3 lbs of cane sugar will boost the abv from 4.3% to 6.8% and drop out some of the IBU's (which is fine by me, even with an IBU...it still leaves it as over 90). When is the best time to add the cane sugar?

Steeped:
3/4 lb. Munich Malt
1/4 lb. Crystal 90
1/4 lb. Carapils

6 lbs LME

1 oz Chinook (60 minutes)
1 oz Chinook (30 minutes)
2 oz Cascade (10 minutes)

London ESB Yeast
Subject: Re: ABV Booster Comparison
Author: MMMBREW
May 31st, 2011
4:49 am
Different sugars can vary greatly. the more processed the sugar is, the less flavor it has. So simple cane or beet sugar is a good way to boost gravity without flavor. However, there are some important things to remember. First, adding simple sugars will dry your beer out. if you add 3 lbs of cane sugar to that recipe it would be very thin and too dry. It is good to have plenty of malt presence in your beer. For some styles, like belgian trippel or strong golden ale, it is normal or expected to have a lot of simple sugar, maybe up to 20% or so. I would keep sugar additions in a normal beer to maybe 5%. or so. I have used around 12% in an american barleywine with good success.

I enjoy the flavor of less processed sugars like turbinado and demerara. They are a good way to add complexity to a brew. I would forego these in many styles, but they are quite nice in some. I would say experiment with a few and see what you like to add or to keep out of your beers. Good luck
Subject: Re: ABV Booster Comparison
Author: BryansBrew
May 31st, 2011
11:57 am
I still have it (agave beer) in the fermenter. I'll let you know how it comes out

If you're just looking for ABV, cane sugar is the way to go. We usually add it around 20 minutes to the end.

If you're concerned with flavor, then there's lots to consider as MMM mentions.
Subject: Re: ABV Booster Comparison
Author: jmario666
Jun 2nd, 2011
2:16 am
At 4.3% alcohol, that is a pretty weak starting point for an IPA. You should probably only look to boost your ABV by 1% at maximum. Austin Homebrew Supply sells this:

BrewVint Alcohol Boost [03271]
$1.99 14 oz bag.
The BrewVint Alcohol Boost is 55% maltose and 45% glucose. This dry sugar adjunct will boost the alcohol content without changing the taste, color, or aroma of the beer. One 14 oz (392 g) bag will boost the beer 1% ABV.

Therefore, I would suggest no more than 1 lb. of any processed sugar purely for boosting the alcohol per 5 gallon batch.

Since you are already steeping grains for for character, I would suggest converting the recipe to a partial mash, and increase the weight of each malt (probably double of each and you should add 1 - 2 lbs. pale malt to add some diastatic enzymes). Steeping and partial mashing are not that much different, you might need a bigger bag and you will need to use a steeping (mashing) temperature between 145 - 155 deg F for about 45 - 60 min. With partial mashing, you can get some fermentable sugars out of those grains and put them to work in your brew, without much additional time brewing. You don't need special all-grain mashing equipment to do partial mashing since the process is very similar to steeping. You should be able to find a suitable partial mash recipe and instructions that will fit your bill of making a true IPA without much sacrifice in flavor.
Subject: Re: ABV Booster Comparison
Author: wstmdhophead
Jun 4th, 2011
1:01 am
+1 to mario. you CANNOT boost more than 1% without getting a nasty result.

I'm assuming your kit is extract based. If you want to get this beer closer to 7 or 8% you may want to add a few pounds of extract and the sugar. of course, if you do this you need to increase your hops, so you might as well rebuild the whole recipe.
Subject: Re: ABV Booster Comparison
Author: BryansBrew
Jun 6th, 2011
11:19 am
kegged the agave beer. I used a big bottle.

It's smooth, but somewhat mead-like with a residual sweetness. And, no, it doesn't taste like tequila.
Subject: Re: ABV Booster Comparison
Author: mali
Jun 6th, 2016
2:35 pm
was looking for this information, happy to join your community!

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