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I have a recipe that calls for 12.2 pounds of liquid malt extract. I picked up only 12 pounds (2 X 6 pound jugs) but didn't want to waste a bunch for only 0.2 pounds. Originally I was thinking it would result in a lowered alcohol content without the sugars in the 0.2 pounds of extract, so then I thought it might be a good idea to substitute using a sugary adjunct.

Can I replace the remaining 0.2 pounds with some other sugar source, such as molasses or maple? This is for a Belgian strong dark ale, but I'm OK with it having some uniqueness.

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6 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Late in the boil, add honey, candi sugar, maple syrup, molasses, or sorghum (I love this stuff, but it's expensive) if you want to add a little flavor. You could even add them during fermentation, provided you heat-kill the baddies first (mead is made by just heating honey to 150+; there isn't even a boil involved). I tend to take a middle of the road approach and add at flame-out if there isn't more than a few pounds involved.

If you don't want to affect the flavor too much, add corn sugar during the boil. It also has the benefit of being super cheap. A lot of "American" style beers have corn sugar.

These all have the benefit of having a higher fermentability than malt, so you won't need the whole 2 pounds to make up the difference in alcohol. Homebrewtalk has a pretty good wiki to help you do the math.

Another thing you could consider is a partial mash. You can do this in a pot with some careful temperature control (think: lots of insulation or constant temperature adjustments on the stove) and patience. Most cooking vessels lose heat fast, so use your imagination here. Buy 2.5 lbs of 2-row and put it in your fancy temperature controlled vessel. Pour 2 gallons of 165 degree water. Keep the mash just above 155 for an hour and strain it into your boil pot. You then have your two pounds of malt extract already dissolved in water.

Edit: I just noticed that it was 0.2 lbs instead of 2lbs. Throw in 3 ounces of pretty much any of the sugars mentioned. You'll be fine.

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Many LMEs provide about 1.036 PPG. If this is a five gallon batch, you're talking about a drop of 1.4 points (36*.2/5). Not much to make a big difference in taste IMO. If you want to replace that lost sugar using molasses or syrup, find the points of the sugar and work backwards. Brown Sugar is 46 ppg so you would need .156 pounds to make up the difference (1.44*5)/46. Molasses is 36 ppg so you would use .2 pounds assuming your LME is also 36 ppg. Again, given the small amount, I don't think it'll make a huge difference either way. I used Brew Calculus for ppg numbers.

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My beer brewing friends tend to use light sorghum as an alternative to LME. It has less impact on the taste than true dark molasses like you find in grocery stores. We find it in the local homebrew stores. But I'm told that purists can tell the difference in the taste. I'd doubt that you could taste the difference in a strong ale. Some of my favorite beer was homebrewed with the dark molasses, when I lived in TN. Very smooth drinking brew, that would kick your a$$.

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Dark Candi Syrup would be true to style and give some very nice flavors, but just about any sweet syrup or even just straight cane sugar would work.

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There's a lot of software that can calculate the gravity you will get from various fermentables. This will let you figure out exactly how much of something to substitute. One free calculator is here:

http://beercalculus.hopville.com/recipe

These kinds of calculators will be essential if you ever want to start designing new beer recipes. BeerSmith and ProMash are two very popular desktop applications amongst homebrewers that can also be used to do these kinds of calculations.

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Easiest solution of all: don't bother fussing about replacing the missing 0.2lbs, just use the 12.0 lbs that you have.

0.2lbs is only 1.6% of 12.2 lbs. Such a small change will be undetectable taste-wise, ABV-wise, etc.

Methinks this is a case where RDWHAHB* is the best advice...!

(* = Relax, Don't Worry, Have a Homebrew)

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