Brewer's Invert Sugar (Part II)

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chthon

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Interesting. But I don't like the statement "they used it because invert syrup tastes sweeter than sucrose", in both cases there is complete fermentation and no sweetness resides from these sugars.

So, inverting syrup was discovered in 1811. How fermentation works was discovered in 1857. Refining sugar probably has a long history, but processes probably changed to a great extent since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

One should probably set out and follow this timeline along two tracks, brewing and sugar refining, and seeing how the sugar refining and the knowledge of fermentation influence each other.

I suppose (hypothesis from my side) that at the side of the sugar refinery working with inverted sugar at a certain point becomes easier than working with sucrose, because there is less chance of crystallisation.

What little I know of Belgian sugar refining shows that it is incrementally refined giving different kinds of darker syrups, with at the end molasses. But molasses from sugar beets is cattle fodder, while that from sugar cane is nice. I suppose that somewhat the same refining is done from sugar cane juice.

But somewhere on the timeline of brewing and sugar refining, there is in Ronald Pattinson's archives the mention that some British brewers made invert syrup themselves, using sulphuric acid and then lye to stop the process. So would that been done in the belief that this was better for the yeast?

But I have another side note to be made w.r.t. this. The main administrator (Jacques Bertens) of the Dutch homebrew forum says that there is no difference between adding invert syrup or sucrose (he likes to test such hypotheses). However, he does recommend to add extra glucose for bringing out banana in a beer. Would that also be something to consider in (historic) British brewing?
 

An Ankoù

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That was my difficulty, too. The sugar added to the fermentation would all be fermented. The note about adding priming sugar for sweetness may be true, but that's a different issue. In any case, the sweetness wouldn't last long. On another matter, I keep seeing oblique references to melanoidins- it's not clear whether the references are to refining or inverting, but surely no melanoidins would form during inversion as there are no proteins or amino acids present. The darkness of the various grades of invert must be due solely to caramelisation.
Historically (I use the word loosely) 40 pint of homebreww was made by tipping a 4Lb kit of hopped concentrate into 5 gallons of water and then stirring in a 2Lb bag of table sugar before pitching the yeast. There was no question of inversion or yeast stress in those heady days. If the beer was craap, it was still better than Watneys Red and could be improved by paying more for a better kit.
 

Druncan

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That sounds like my roots brewing with the 'Boots' kits. I used to make mainly a 'Lager' ish brew :roll:asad. I would however leave it for 6 months in my cellar under the old house and it got much better - Lagering in its innocent infantancy
athumb.. :cool:
 
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peebee

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... But somewhere on the timeline of brewing and sugar refining, there is in Ronald Pattinson's archives the mention that some British brewers made invert syrup themselves, using sulphuric acid and then lye to stop the process. So would that been done in the belief that this was better for the yeast? ...
Yeap! There is a document on it linked in the OP:

The Preparation of Invert Sugar in the Brewery - Baker - 1902 - Journal of the Federated Institutes of Brewing - Wiley Online Library

It's a bit excessively detailed! Seems it was cheaper buying foreign refined crystalline sugar and inverting it themselves than buying the locally refined invert syrups.

There was a belief that yeast fed on Invert will remain viable for re-use, whereas fed on sucrose it would quickly become useless for re-use. True or not? 🤷‍♂️

But Invert Syrups would remain liquid at high concentrations; I guess syrups were easier for handling in the brewery? Whereas sucrose just crystallised into a solid lump. (Which is what you said too).

[EDIT: There was a mass "poisoning" caused by this practice, 1900 if I've got it right? Using "cheap" Sulphuric Acid contaminated with Arsenic.]
 
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peebee

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... The darkness of the various grades of invert must be due solely to caramelisation. ...
"Must"? ... but it wasn't! The various grades (1, 2, 3) are referring to the refined state of the sugar before inverting. But as RP reminded me ... "they're still different colours"!

Ragus "emulate" these colours by adding back molasses to their invert syrup - refining methods have changed since the processes used by the Victorians - Regus documentation does state: "Brewing sugar is typically made up of cane molasses, invert sugar and dextrose". The dextrose (20%) is their addition to the process to pack it as a solid block.

The Ragus quote comes from Brewing Sugar | Custom Formulations | Ragus - Pure Sugars & Syrups. I've just noticed that link avoids any mention of No.1, No.2, No.3 (its "light", "medium", "dark"). The "caramelised" sugar colours seems to be some fabrication of the home-brewing world a while back? I wonder when? I wonder who started the myth? "Caramelised invert sugars" had me fooled for quite a while! Have you noticed the lack of outraged forumites queuing up to discredit my claims? ('Cos they can't provide the evidence they know I will demand).
 

peebee

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peebee

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Having successfully (well, I think so!) trashed the ridiculous instructions to caramelise invert sugar syrup to get colours (No.2, etc.), I'll hold out one suggestion where caramels (and "Maillard reactions") might still have a place in "Invert Syrups".

The different grades ("colours" if you like) are restored to modern-day commercial "Invert Syrup" (for commercial brewing) by additions of "molasses" to the clear Invert. Sugar refiners (like Regas) will have plenty of sources of differing molasses syrups from which to makes those additions whereas we homebrewers are limited to the sugars and syrups made available to retail outlets. I have no idea yet what combination of retail sugars and syrups might best replicate the Invert Sugars once used in the past. Or the refining processes that produced them. There might well be processes that created an appreciable amount of caramels and "Maillard reaction" products (Lyle's Golden Syrup being an extreme example?). Who knows? 🤷‍♂️

Plenty of work yet, and I really need to return my myth-busting focus back on historical "brown malt" to tackle 18th to early-19th century "Porters" for next Xmas! (The challenge remains to eventually brew typical brown beers and ales of the 1650 period - I've not given up yet @Dyke Busters, just securing the "foundations" to continue working backwards in time!).
 

clyne

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Fascinating thread @peebee even if I don’t understand half of it 😉 So, dumbing it down for me - I’m making a Belgian blond today, don’t have “candi sugar” which many recipes call for, so was left with two options:
1. Use table sugar (there’s lots of talk online about this stressing the yeast but I think the TL;DR is that’s not true as the boiling wort should break the sucrose down?
2. Make a batch of “candi sugar” and use it.

My preference is 1. Interested in your opinion?
 

chthon

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Fascinating thread @peebee even if I don’t understand half of it 😉 So, dumbing it down for me - I’m making a Belgian blond today, don’t have “candi sugar” which many recipes call for, so was left with two options:
1. Use table sugar (there’s lots of talk online about this stressing the yeast but I think the TL;DR is that’s not true as the boiling wort should break the sucrose down?
2. Make a batch of “candi sugar” and use it.

My preference is 1. Interested in your opinion?

Diverse Belgian beers use a diversity of sugars
  • Duvel uses glucose or glucose syrup
  • Westmalle uses syrups from Belgosuc
But all these syrups are because this is industrially easy to handle. One other thing is that Belgosuc in collaboration with its customers also makes custom syrups.

I have diverse sources (Brülosophy, Flemish homebrew forum, Dutch homebrew forum) which have tested with ordinary sugar (sacharose/sucrose) and which didn't find a difference.

And candi sugar is also sacharose/sucrose.
 

peebee

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... My preference is 1. Interested in your opinion?
I've only come across what the Belgians used in passing (trying to tie down British invert sugar). But I got the impression the "rocks" of "Belgium Candi Sugar" often sold by home brew retailers are the same nonsense as the caramelised invert syrups we've (Brits) have been suckered into creating: Originally the Belgium sugar syrups seemed to be much the same as the Invert Syrups the Brits used.

Those "rocks" appear to be sucrose (i.e. not inverted, though I think I've made it clear what I think of the value - or lack of - of inverting sugar to home brewers). I can't imagine what benefits clear "rocks" have over household sugar. If it was "inverted", how do they stop the fructose colouring? Perhaps they do use vacuum crystallisation? Fructose does caramelise at 110°C, but also starts to breakdown at lower temperatures and create yellowing. Not insurmountable issues but seems more likely they used just sucrose. And then there's the brown "rocks". Nah. Unless someone comes up with a better explanation, regard those so-called "Belgium Candi" rocks as utter hokum.

Hang-on ... @chthon has just posted ... I think with what he says too, we can conclude those "rocks" are utter hokum!

Sucrose "stresses yeast"? Now where do I start ... complete $!&$*!ks! When the yeast has finished worrying over the sucrose, it can start panicking over the even greater quantity of maltose (also a disaccharide like sucrose - uses a different enzyme to break it though).
 

clyne

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Thanks both @peebee and @chthon - I took your advice and just fired the table sugar straight into the boil. The wort tasted pretty good to me (but then most of them usually do). Looking forward to the end result :beer1:
 

Erik The Anglophile

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I have been making Invert syrups by the caramellisation method, using 1kg billingtons demerara, 1L of water, 2ml lactic acid. Adding the sugar and acid to warm water to dissolv, heat to 115c, add about 0.5g sodium bicarbonate to stop the inversion then chucked it in to the oven at 120c for 3hrs to make #3.
This is still inverted sugar, maybe not exactly a replica of what was used in the old days, but it makes tasty beer.
But how would one go about making it the "proper" way?
And how to make it concentrated without simmering and not just end up with a bunch of sticky sugar water?
I have Billingtons demerara, some of their light and dark muscovado sugars at home reserved for brewing so some experimenting adding a dash of dark musco to demerara could be done
 

peebee

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@Erik The Anglophile: Answered this in the "other" thread I started on the colours (ebc) of household sugars. Because I was asking a straightforward sugar question, I didn't want to splinter this thread in multiple directions (like I usually do!).
 

peebee

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I've accumulated amounts of Billington's* sugars:
"Golden" for No.1, and as a dilutant to get the right shades out of the other sugars.
"Demerara" for No.2, and as an alternative dilutant to get the right shades out of the other sugars.
"Light Muscovado" for No.2.
"Dark Muscovado" for No.3 and No.4.
"Molasses Sugar" for No.4, although I do worry about a slight bitterness present in this very raw sugar.

And for comparison (to fine tune the emulations) brew size samples of:
No.1 Ragus Invert Sugar.
No.2 Ragus Invert Sugar.
No.3 Ragus Invert Sugar.

I'm using Ragus Invert Sugar because I'm reasonably convinced (now) that Ragus offer a good example of UK invert sugars. They are also the only manufacturer of such sugars left in existence! I will have to figure out how to deal with the 20% dextrose adulterant they add to cast it as a solid block rather than a syrup but that shouldn't be too hard.

I'm also hoping Billington's will reply to me with whatever colour analysis they have. I'm sure I can convert to EBC. Otherwise, I'll use Graham Wheeler's analysis of Tesco's Dark Muscovado (i.e. 600EBC) and extrapolate.

Why all the different sugars and not just a jar/tin of "molasses" syrup? I know ("Heron" documents) that the different grades/colours of Brewer's Invert (No.1, etc.) was the result of inverting different grades of raw sugar; so, having a range of raw sugars might enable to mix the closest match? Should be better than just adding one grade of molasses syrup in different quantities to emulate the entire range of Invert Sugars (No.1-4). As for "No.4" I've no comparison so if I include it, it will be a guess. I'll probable use Brupak's "Brewers Caramel" to adjust the colour of an emulated "No.3"; Ragus used caramel colouring (E150) in their No.4, apparently.

What of "Maillard reactions" and caramel flavour? I'm of the belief now that such flavours and colours came from the only elevated temperature processes involved in creating Invert Sugar; that of extracting the crude sugar from the cane (remember, the Victorians were not even aware of "Maillard reactions"). So, such flavours should already be present in the raw sugars used and not added or created to the finished invert sugar.

I will not be "inverting" the sugar unless something convinces me otherwise. And I might resort to "inverting" if my emulation come out close, but not close enough. But anyone can "invert" the mixed (sucrose) sugars if they wish, to achieve a syrup too.

My target will be to brew >this< with an Invert Sugar emulation before next Autumn. It's a bizarre "Pale Ale" with loads of "No.3" sugar. I've written this "intent" out 'cos I may not achieve my "intention", (I have a habit of that) and this provides an opportunity for someone to take over. A lot of us complain we can't get our hands on Brewers' Invert Sugars; this is an attempt to redress that.



* Billington's sugars are available in the UK, and according to their packets, New Zealand and Singapore. Americans might use similar sugars from "India Tree". There is bound to be other alternatives.
 
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Erik The Anglophile

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I have an experiment coming up this weekend, a dark mild I meant to put 10% Invert #3 in, the dark caramellised syrup variety.
Instead I will opt for the same amount of cane sugar, Billingtons light muscovado and 2/10 of the total amount as dark muscovado, in order to maybe get a closer result to traditional invert #3.
The sugar content of the invert syrup is 83% vs ~95 for the cane sugar so the difference in PPG shouldn't be notable.
90 min boil and intend to pour in the sugar as soon as a proper boil is going.
 

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