It seems like the only reason to add plain sugar is to boost ABV without changing flavor. If I want a lighter beer, can I just leave out the sugar? Or will that affect the flavor?

I'm not talking about dark candi syrups or raw sugar like turbinado. I know they contribute unique flavors.



Alcohol itself adds to flavour/aroma, and to perception of body, the latter being critical for tripel, characterized by its dryness.

So, the answer depends on what you mean by "lighter" here. If you mean just "less alcohol", then sure, leave out the sugar. If "lighter" is about compounded perception of lightness, then you may want to reduce grain, too. In any case, it won't be tripel anymore. If you're after a crisp light beer with a belgian twist, check out the sort called "trappist single".

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    "Brew like a monk": drinkability of a tripel is indeed created through the addition of sugar, up to 18% of the grain bill, high attenuation, which reduces the sweetness, and much carbonation too. Westmalle Tripel being the original example of the style. – chthon Sep 13 '17 at 6:31
  • That makes sense to me if you replace some of the malt with sugar to get a lower FG. The resulting beer would have a lighter body and the same ABV. But if you have two recipes that are identical except that one has extra sugar added, would the increased ABV create a perception of lightness even though they both have the same FG? – Josh Yeager Sep 14 '17 at 19:12
  • @JoshYeager I'd still say yes, as alcohol counterbalances sweetness to some point. I wouldn't bet more than my lunch money on that, however, since I never made a clean split batch experiment. Sounds interesting though... – Roman Sep 14 '17 at 23:18
  • But alcohol is sweet, so you wouldn't have the same beer. In short, no, a beer without sugar but with increased ABV won't be the same as one with sugar. – Denny Conn Sep 15 '17 at 15:51
  • Thanks, guys! I'm going to make a split batch so I can teach myself what sugar's effect tastes like. (-: – Josh Yeager Sep 15 '17 at 17:56

If you leave it out, you will not have a tripel. Even more than alcohol, the sugar is there for what's referred to as "digestibility". It lightens the body of the beer. If you leave it out you will be making a different style of beer.

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  • Exactly what I was thinking. – Philippe Sep 14 '17 at 17:57
  • Thanks, Denny. I still feel like I'm misunderstanding something. See my comment above. BTW, I love the podcast! – Josh Yeager Sep 14 '17 at 20:57

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