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I'm thinking about making something like Frambozen from New Belgium from brown ale and added raspberries. However it's more of a sipping beer / higher alcohol content than the regular brown ale.

Which got me thinking as I have no idea. What happens if I take brown ale recipe double the yest and throw in say extra 1 lb candy sugar, similar to double or triple Belgium. I would think it will become higher alcohol, but what kind of side affects will it have on taste and other parts of the otherwise fine Brown ale ?

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Edit

Its a local kit similar to Avery's Ellie's Brown Ale

Steep grains 30 mins in 160 deg water.
6 oz dark crystal malt
6 oz pale chocolate malt
4 oz amber malt


Remove grains and add
6.5 lbs amber liquid malt extract

Top off water to 5 gals and bring to a rolling boil
add 1.5 oz Willamette or Fuggle hops. 

boil for 50 mins 
add 0.5 oz Willamette or Fuggle hops, 
0.5 oz Perle or Challenger hops

Boil 8 mins then 
add 0.5 oz Perle or Challenger hops, 
boil another 2 mins.

Pitch with Wyeast 1098 British Ale

Another Edit

Got tipped off yesterday that King Soopers is having a sale on Raspberries here in Colorado. Went to the store and got about 1 Gallon of them, they were 75% off, not bad for $20. Cleaned them up and made pulp out of, it's in the freezer ready to go.

Thanks for the input from the other answers, also check this source if your interested, I will report back when it's ready.

Below is the receipt that I'm thinking about going with, let me know if you have input / tweaks on that as well.

Steep grains 30 mins in 160 deg water.
6 oz dark crystal malt
5 oz pale chocolate malt
4 oz amber malt
3 oz Chocolate malt

Remove grains and add 7 lbs amber liquid malt extract

Top off water to 5 gals and bring to a rolling boil
1.5 oz Willamette or Fuggle hops.
boil for 50 mins

1 lbs brown candi sugar
0.5 oz Willamette or Fuggle hops,
1 oz Perle or Challenger hops
boil another 12 mins.

Pitch with Belgian ale yeast

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1  
The grain bill and yeast used would be helpful in answering this question. –  roto Nov 27 '12 at 22:24
    
I have added the ingredients –  orn Nov 28 '12 at 17:29
    
This came out great ! It's a little bit too heavy on the chocolate, the raspberries were a little tart as well. I should have aged them for a couple of days. Other than that its one of my favorite. –  orn Mar 1 at 3:31

3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Adding pure sugar to any beer style does a few things.

First, it increases the ABV. This is only an issue if it gets you an alcohol % that is noticeable in the flavor profile of the beer. Brown Ale certainly has no tolerance for any kind of warm alcohol flavor (unlike Barleywines, or big Belgians), so make sure your ABV doesn't go up past 7-8%.

Second, it decreases the body, which is kinda counter intuitive. This is because pure sugar (like Belgian Candy sugar) ferments out completely, without leaving any non-fermentable dextrins behind. More alcohol and less non-fermentables = thinner body. This is actually part of the reason sugar is used in Belgian beers (and British ones to a lesser extent). You NEED that 1-2 lbs of pure sugar to change that big Tripel from a 'cloying', sweet beer into a dry one.

Lastly, without proper temp control, it can add cidery flavors to some styles. This point is debatable, and a LOT of brewers now swear its wrong, but for years, extract + sugar recipes were labeled as having 'cider' flavors that came from SOMETHING (edit: I previously said 'came from fermenting sucrose at 70F+' but this might not be accurate). This could be an outdated myth, but I've seen a ton of posts online with extract brewers claiming that this happens to their beers, so you decide if its worth it. Just keep the temps down, regardless.


If you do want to add sugar, you can safely add a pound or two to any normal recipe without having to adjust the yeast. Just throw it right into the kettle at the end of the boil. Some folks are paranoid about feeding pure sugar to the beer only after primary is done, but for 1-2 pounds, you don't need to worry about it.

As a final note, Brown Ales aren't really intended to be high ABV beers, but I can't see a reason why it wouldn't work. Just make sure to counterbalance the decreased mouthfeel of the sugar by adding, say, 1/2lb of MaltoDextrin for every lb of sugar you throw in. That's a rough guide and others might know a better ratio than me.

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I've always heard that the cidery flavor is a byproduct of fermenting table sugar (sucrose) as opposed to using belgian candy sugar (fructose and glucose). If you're concerned about this though, it can easily be avoided. Add the table sugar to your boil with 10-20 minutes remaining, as heat and acid will convert sucrose to fructose and glucose. –  roto Nov 28 '12 at 19:45
    
Ahh. Very cool info. Thanks. –  Graham Nov 28 '12 at 19:50
    
No, the "cidery" flavor has nothing to do with table sugar vs. Belgian candy sugar. Even Belgian brewers seldom use candi rock sugar. They use plain, non inverted sucrose made from either sugar can or beets. I have much experience with using sugar in beers and have never had cidery flavors from it. The old myth seems to have come from the "bad old days" of a "kit and a kilo". It's been traced to stale liquid extract. The sugar doesn't cover the flavor, so the beer tastes cidery. –  Denny Conn Nov 28 '12 at 20:38
    
Interesting Denny. Since the OP's question mentions "Its a local kit" and "6.5 lbs amber liquid malt extract", I wonder if he should be warned off the sugar then, or at least told to verify (as best he can) that the extract is fresh? Then again, what shop would tell him that it WASN'T fresh... –  Graham Nov 28 '12 at 21:31
    
Good point on the "Local kit" it's not like a Best brew kit that's been waiting on the shelf for god knows how long. Rather recipes the store has available and that the store creates kits out of, if your too lazy to get the ingredients yourself for what you need, you can just pick up a box they put together for you. They make them every week, so I'm pretty sure the extract is fresh. –  orn Nov 28 '12 at 22:06

How funny! I brought Homebrew.Stack up to pass the time on a mellow brew night and found someone asking about exactly the thing I'm doing tonight. The answers already here are very good. Let me tell you what I'm doing and why.

My brother-in-law is an orthopedic surgeon. (This becomes important later.) He and I are 8 days apart in age, and we both turned 40 this past January. I had a blowout party in NY, planned by my wife (his sister), and he came down with his wife to celebrate my birthday with a bunch of folks, thereby not celebrating his own 40th very much. I felt this was due some serious payback. So, we decided on two things:

  1. We'd do a beer of the month club for him for the year
  2. I would brew his favorite beer from that assortment, and bring it to him for his 41st

His favorite was RJ Rocker's Bald Eagle Brown. It's a high-ish ABV (5.5%) English brown ale. He's a confirmed brown ale lover, but, being a surgeon, he doesn't drink very much or very often. So I wanted to make him something he'd like, that would stand up to a year or two of aging while he made his way through 24 hand-labeled, hand-corked, Belgian-style bottles. This is wayyyy out of style for a Southern English brown ale, but I'm not brewing to style. I'm brewing for a person.

I don't have a great Southern English brown recipe in my quiver, so the recipe is based squarely on the specialty grains from Jamil Z's recipe from Brewing Classic Styles. I filled out the grains with Maris Otter, did brew-in-a-bag for a base, and punched up the gravity with DME. I scaled up the specialty malts by 25%, but the OG of 1.067 is more than 50% higher than a classic English brown. I'm currently wondering whether to add table sugar to this boil. (It's happening right now.)

In Belgium, table sugar is added for "digestibility". If you wonder what this means, try to drink Stone Arrogant Bastard for an entire football game. Strong beers are rich and filling. There's something to be said for all-malt, but there's also a tipping point at which you want to protect the imbiber from feeling bloated.

The problems with too much sugar can be twofold:

  1. If the proportion of sugar is too high, you can get a light body. This is another reason for the "cidery" descriptor. Cider has few (or no) dextrins, so it feels watery and fizzy in your mouth, which is not a bad thing, if you want cider. The same thing can happen with a low mash temperature on an all-grain batch, or with a very fermentable extract.

  2. If the gross amount of sugar is too high, alcohol is produced that can overwhelm the flavor of the beer.

But really there's little to worry about. I've brewed Northern Brewer's Innkeeper recipe more than a few times. That is a low-ish gravity beer with a full pound of sugar and it's awesome. I would not worry about adding a pound of sugar to any 5 gallon batch. It's common brewing practice in England and Belgium.

Since I mashed at a fairly high temp, and used DME (which might be very fermentable... I don't know how it performs yet) in this beer, I'm going to go ahead and leave out the sugar. If the beer's a little rich, well, that's okay. It's a special occasion beer, anyway. If I'd had a pound less DME on hand and wanted to get the same gravity, though, I would not have hesitated one bit to throw in some good old sucrose or dextrose.

I just wanted to throw this out there as an example of brewing to taste, rather than brewing to style.

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Good timing, hope it comes out great –  orn Nov 29 '12 at 16:04

more grains/sugars yields more food for yeast, yields higher alcohol. depending on your your starting gravity you may be able to simply increase the grain (or candy sugar) and still be within a tolerable alcohol range for the yeast to perform optimally. however if it's a low alcohol tolerant yeast, or you are shooting for a 10+ ABV then you will probably need a different yeast strain, one that can handle higher alcohol.

I know most Belgium yeast strains tolerate higher ABV. I know there are a few American yeast strains too, but I can't think of them off the top of my head.

adding more yeast without increasing the sugars may improve sugar conversion which yields a higher ABV, but more than likely it will just decrease the fermentation time since more yeast are eating the same amount of sugar.

another trick is to pitch champagne yeast after the first fermentation is complete. champagne yeast can handle very high alcohol content so they can pick up where the other yeast died off. And champagne yeast has very little (no) impact on the flavor profile.

so you can certainly increase the grain bill by the appropriate proportions but you may need a stronger yeast strain to reach the desired ABV. After fermentation add the raspberries to secondary like you normally would.

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2  
Almost any yeast will go to 10-12% ABV. You just need to pitch a properly sized starter of healthy yeast. I have found champagne yeast to have a negative effect on beer flavor and I avoid using it after a few dismal trials. –  Denny Conn Nov 28 '12 at 20:39

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