Monday, 2 August 2010

Proprietary brewing sugars

Once you hit the 20th century, there's one problem with brewing logs. All the bloody proprietary sugars. Things either with exotic-sounding names like laevuline or prosaic permutations of letters, like DCS. Or even worse, enigmatic names, like Hay's "M".

Where am I mentioning this now? In preparation for the coming series of posts on Lees post-WW II beers. They were big sugar fans. Some of their beers contained as many as half a dozen.

In some cases, sugars make up such a high percentage of the grist, that just substituting table sugar for them really isn't going to work. Because, in addition to providing fermentable material, the sugars also had other functions. like colouring.

So (courtesy of Kristen) is your cut out and keep guide to proprietary brewing sugars:

Black treacle
400 ebc
dark fruits not caramel
3600 ebc
invert sugar based colourant

see carameline

starch conversion syrup eg enzymatic syrup

see carameline
0 ebc
white sugar of lower grade. XXV top dutch grade
0 ebc
unfermentable. lends 35 gravity points per pound per gallon. So for the archer stout it would be 224lb  35pts/ 1329 gal = ~6 pts fg just from lactose.
10 ebc
soluble nitrogen invert kettle fining. increase yeast health and beer head

Well, some brewing sugars. There's also Laevuline, a priming sugar. A very common priming sugar. SP, too. That's another sort of priming. Any help with what these - and Hay's "M" -  were would be much appreciated.


mitch said...

Isn't Black Treacle darker than 400EBC? Ragus used to describe it as about 1500EBC. There was a Brewer's Black Invert at 350EBC though.

Kristen England said...


Yes. Black Invert is about 400EBC. The Treacle is around 1500EBC.

For some reason Ragus took the sugar break downs off their website. You can find them here though:

Graham Wheeler said...

SP = Stout Primings; Gillman and Spencer gave their SP as 4000 EBC, 310 LD/K, medium fermentability (which actually means medium speed).

Adnams are listed as still using Laevuline in their Mild, Old and Tally-Ho as late as 1997, even though the original makers and trade mark owners (Kendall of Stratford) folded in 1974 or thereabouts. Someone else must have taken over the rights.

"M" has to be a caramel, because I think that caramel was all that Hays made. Gillman and Spencer did a caramel called 3M, but it is too risky to assume that it is the same stuff.

Of course, the data sheets for all this stuff will be in a filing cabinet somewhere at John Willy Lees.

You are going to have to substitute. The destruction of our brewing industry has caused several dozens of supporting industries to fold, many of them in the last ten or fifteen years. Nobody is going to be able to get hold of most of this stuff any more. It is pointless publishing a recipe, for example, that nobody can make.

Jeff Renner said...

If I read the ad for Garton's correctly ("It supplies a purely saccharine basis in the proportion by which it displaces malt"), it seems that it was not entirely fermentable, but rather contained a fair proportion of unfermentable larger sugars.

We had a discussion here some months ago as to whether invert sugar is 100% fermentable. Ordinary invert sugar is, I think.

Kristen England said...


I haven't seen the SP yet in the Lees logs. They have some high extract "P.S." priming crystals from a place in London that they use in a few of beers.

You are absolutely correct. Some substitutions need to be made. As long as we have a good idea of the 'what' the things were, substitutions are not to difficult. We aren't trying to clone these but want to be as close as possible. That being said, I'd rather give people the best recipe possible with ideas for even broader substitutions that recipes so generic that its pointless to begin with.

Ron Pattinson said...

Graham, I doubt the SP Lees were using was Stout Primings. Seeing as how they poured a stack of it into their Bitter.

Ron Pattinson said...

Jeff Renner, invert brewing sugar definitely isn't 100% fermentable. I was surprised on tasting No. 2 invert at just how much flavour it had.

Pierre said...

Laevuline is probably just a trade mark for levulose/laevulose, better known as fructose.

Matt said...

Off at a slight tangent I know but I was just wondering: how do German brewers manage with the ban on using sugar in bottom-fermented beer?

Jeff Renner said...

Ron - Yes, invert sugar has a few percent of things that give flavor, but as I understand it, it is almost completely fermentable, as opposed to the spectrum of sugars produced from mashing.

When you get an apparent attenuation of 75%, the actual attenuation is something like 62% real attenuation.

Kristen England said...

Lets not get things confused. Many different sugar syrups are actually 'invert'. Basically all you need is heat to do it to sucrose. The feed stock molasses people use for making rum is invert sugar but it only has like 47% fermentable sugar. Read reducing sugars. Just because something is invert doesn't mean you can ferment it.

Graham Wheeler said...

Brewer's invert is a near as dammit 100% fermentable. Even the darkest variety has minimum of 95% fermentability, and that is taken from a 1950 reference. Modern refining techniques will probably mean that today's stuff will be of even greater purity.

The flavour comes from the blending of increasing amounts of raw sugar - molasses - into the mix before inversion, increasing molasses with increasing type number. Remember that flavour thresholds are measured in parts per billion. Having flavour does not mean there will be a noticeable difference in fermentability.

Almost all ale primings are 100EBC on full product (100%). This will be 10EBC at 10%w/w solution. Its colour contribution can be ignored for the most part.

Stout primings are a different matter.

You have to be careful with sugars and syrups when it comes to colour. You have to determine whether the colour is specified "On Product" or 10%w/w. Usually sugars and caramels are specified "On Product", including invert sugar. Malt extract is usually 10%w/w.

Home brewers habitually cock up sugar and syrup colours. Brewers' invert is nowhere near as dark as seems on taking the numbers at face value. No.1 is as good as colourless.

I will be holding a course for brewing historians at the Rose and Crown. Tickets available from...

Martyn Cornell said...

And just to add to the confusion about sugars, thgere are things like "YSM", which is "Young's special mixture", the special blend of sugars Young's orders to put into Winter Warmer.

Barm said...

Matt, I'm not sure I understand your question. Are you asking what German brewers use instead of priming sugar? That's easy, they can use unfermented wort. But I think it's more common to just rack the beer to the lagering tank when it's still a point or two above final gravity and let the beer carbonate naturally in the lagering tank.

Jeff Renner said...

Another traditional German method of carbonating is to kraeusen, that is, to add about 10% fermenting beer at high kraeusen, to the finished beer, and then seal it in a vessel. This also cleans up off flavors like diacetyl.