I wanted to brew a pale ale. Long story short crushing grains for all-grain brewing has a dramatic impact on efficiency. I went to a new homebrew store and didn't bother to check whether the grain was crushed effectively. Turns out it wasn't and so after mashing the wort had very little sugar. So I decided that instead of throwing the batch out I would attempt a rescue. But I had no malt extract but I did have table sugar (not the white stuff but the organic brown cane sugar kind).

Has anyone tried this before?

I tried a taste after transferring and it tasted a bit like vodka. Should I expect that taste to linger or will it mellow?

Here is the recipe: http://hopville.com/recipe/1330289/american-pale-ale-recipes/pale-rider-summiting

  • 6
    sounds like you're tasting alcohol without any malt backbone to balance against. can you give recipe details, batch size, planned vs actual efficiency, and how much sugar you added?
    – mdma
    Commented May 25, 2012 at 21:49
  • 3
    As well as yeast used and fermentation temp?
    – Denny Conn
    Commented May 25, 2012 at 22:12
  • Turns out it doesn't taste that bad. Not exactly the maltiest beer I have ever had. The initial O.G. reading was 1.021 and the final after adding the sugar was 1.056. Going to leave this to condition for a month and see what happens. Commented Jun 1, 2012 at 22:06

1 Answer 1


The literature I've read has always warned against too much simple sugar in the fermentation. The claim is that the yeast will produce Acetaldehyde, which contributes a "cidery" flavor to your beer. I've never experienced this personally, and there is some talk that the Acetaldehyde thing may even be a bit of a myth.

It's likely that breaking down cane sugar instead of the usual maltose/dextrose mix has generated a lot of fusel alochols, giving it that vodka taste. This is something that could go away fairly quickly, or could require an extra long time to condition out (something I've experienced with meads).

Another possible culprit for the fusel alcohol taste is having too hot a fermentation. Especially in the early stages, your need to get your ale down around 68F. (consensus in the comments is that my initial suggestion of "below 70-75F" is still too warm, and will likely still produce these unpleasant fusels)

  • In my experience, 70-75F degrees for an ale fermentation is still warm, especially if you're talking about ambient temps. Measuring the temperature of the beer, the highest ale fermentation temperature I typically use is 68. Some yeasts require a higher temperature to finish out, but I never start higher than 68. Commented May 28, 2012 at 23:30
  • Interesting - like warm with what consequences? You start getting fusels?
    – Ternary
    Commented May 29, 2012 at 0:03
  • Yep. Especially at the start of the ferment when yeast quickly become over zealous fermentors with a bit of extra heat. The first belgian I made was without temp control and was pitched and fermented too warm - around 25C/80F and tasted like bad whiskey.
    – mdma
    Commented May 30, 2012 at 17:34
  • Yes, I got fusels; a lot of my beer had a "hot" taste. Also the taste of my beer got better with temp control. This is just from a cleaner fermentation, as a lot of the styles I like use neutral yeast (like 1056) with a clean fermentation. Commented May 31, 2012 at 11:17

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