Saturday, 6 December 2008

Sugar 1920 - 1939 (part one)

I've taken a break from brewing logs. For a while. I'm back to working my way through "Brewing Science & Practice" H. Lloyd Hind, published in 1943.

It's a very useful book when it comes to sugar. I'm finally starting to understand a little about the different types of sugar used in brewing. I'd never realised that there were so many. A surprisingly complex subject. So much so, that there's way too much for a single post.

According to Hind, seven types of sugar were used in brewing:

1. Cane sugar, derived from sugar cane and sometimes sugar beet.
2. Invert sugars, made by inversion of sugar cane.
3. Starch sugars, including corn syrups and glucose, made from cereals, usually maize.
4. Mixtures of the above.
5. Caramels, made from cane sugar or glucose.
6. Lactose or milks sugar, only used in milk stout.
7. Honey, very rarely used.
(Source: "Brewing Science & Practice" H. Lloyd Hind, 1943, page 297.)

Cane sugar
Cane sugar could be produced from either sugar cane, sugar beet, sugar maple, certain palms or sorghum. The chemical composition of the sugar after purification, whatever the source, was identical: sucrose. Before refining the raw sugar from the different sources varied considerably. Some, like that, for example, from sugar beet, didn't taste that pleasant so it could only be used in refined form. Raw sugar cane had the best flavour, though this varied depending on where the canes had been grown and how they had been processed.

Refined sugar was very pure, but for brewing raw sugar, with its distinctive flavours, was preferred. The greater the proportion of substances other than sucrose, the more luscious and characterful the flavour was. West Indian and Brazilian sugar was particularly suitable for brewing on account of the fulness and sweetness it gave to beer.

Cane sugar was used in the copper and for priming, though many brewers preferred to use candy sugar for the latter. After addition to the cask, cane sugar was inverted by enzymes secreted by the yeast, invertase and sucrase, before being fermented.

Invert sugar
This was created by the hydrolosis of cane sugar, which was transformed into equal parts of glucose and fructose. Depending on the degree of purification, three grades of brewing sugar were made: No.1, No.2 and No.3. It was sold either as a syrup or in solid form. Invert sugar was used both in the copper and as primings. No.1 and No.2 were used in Pale Ale, No.2 and No.3 in Mild Ale and No.3 in Porter and Stout.

No.1 tended to be reserved for the better quality Pale Ales, such as PA, while No.2 was used in weaker Light Bitters and IPA. Every beer brewed by Barclay Perkins and Whitbread contained one of these three sugars. There were two main manufacturers, Garton and Martineau. The London brewers bought from both and used their products interchangeably. This type of invert sugar usually made up 10 to 15% of the grist.

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