Brewer's Invert Sugar

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peebee

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I've carved this off from another thread (Victorian Mild!) to reach out to a larger audience of contributing folk.

"Brewer's Invert" sugar is hard to get (the manufacturer "Ragus" would like you to buy a tonne! Some bakery supplier's will sell it in 25Kg lots). But we are constantly reminded that "Invert Sugar" adds very distinctive flavours to beers, and if trying to clone recipes (mainly older bitter and mild recipes, it is losing popularity in brewing these days) it's essential. Some "milds" in particular relied on it very strongly for flavour and colour. So what can we do?

We can but the stuff from wholesalers, but 25Kg of very sticky block sugar isn't a great addition to house! We can use "alternatives", but household sugars are very different, and Belgium candy sugar/syrup ("candi" if you must) is also very different (see later). It can be made, but it's quite a phaff, especially the darker colours, and there are things to get right or you spend a lot of time making something else! And at a pinch (dream on?) you can "fabricate" it from other ingredients.

To determine what you are after take a look at Ragus's info sheets: IBG-Article-December15.pdf (ragus.co.uk) , a Brewer and Distiller International magazine article from December 2015.

The things to remember is Brewer's Invert Sugar is made from raw cane sugars. But Brewer's Invert Sugar also gains flavours and colour from the heat causing caramelisation and Maillard reactions.

To be continued ...
 

peebee

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Why go to the trouble of making invert sugar, or the expense of buying the stuff?

I think most know the answer to that by now: Because you are interested in the flavours it brings. If you want to get pi$$ed quick and cheaply, just pile in the white granulated sugar sick... (actually, white granulated can be used to ease up on the "heaviness" of a beer - some "Belgium" beer recipes might do this). But don't be embarrassed if you did think you can replace Invert Sugar in a recipe with household sugars. I'm going to the trouble of writing this to exorcise those daft ideas out of my head (as I am embarrassed to admit I did have those ideas ... damn, I've just told everyone now!).

The other common idea is "inverting" the sugar (sucrose, a "disaccharide") into simpler sugars ("monosaccharides") is less stress for the yeast. Poppycock! The yeast couldn't give a flying ... . For example: A common "trick" is to replace No.1 Invert with the very similar flavoured "Golden Syrup"; for which you might hear: "But golden syrup is only partially inverted". So what!!! You cannot taste the different simple sugars used in beer, because the yeast ate them all! And during the fermentation the yeast still has to deal with the bulk of the sugar in wort, maltose, a "disaccharide", that the yeast will have to go to the "trouble" of breaking down to glucose ("monosaccharide").

To be continued some more ...
 

peebee

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A common trick is to "fabricate" Invert Sugar from two common ingredients: Golden Syrup and Blackstrap Molasses. It was detailed at Making Brewers Invert | half a cat but appears to have gone now? But I'll summarise it here:

Invert No. 1 = 500g Golden Syrup
Invert No. 2 = 494 Golden Syrup + 6g Blackstrap Molasses
Invert No. 3 = 483g Golden Syrup + 17g Blackstrap Molasses
Black Invert = 447g Golden Syrup + 53g Blackstrap Molasses
Invert No. 4 = 405g Golden Syrup + 95g Blackstrap Molasses

But ... it was recognised that these fabrications were okay for No.1 Invert, fair for No.2 Invert, but comparison failed badly thereafter. The reason is clear, the fabrications rely entirely on raw sugar for flavour and colour. Throughout the range it relies on the decreasing amount of Golden Syrup for the caramel flavours.

In addition, I don't agree with large additions of molasses. It has a very masking quality that you may not notice over its lush flavour (it took me many years to recognise the negative impact of molasses on my beers, or black treacle which is a more refined molasses).

(EDIT: You may notice Ragus sell a product "Brublocks" which is just glucose flavoured with cane molasses. I don't know how they get away with that?).

And for quite the opposite issue:

Some folk will use "candy sugar" to replace Invert Sugar, especially Belgium Candi Sugar. But these are often made from "beet" sugar, a very refined sugar because less refined sugar from beet is horrible! So all the flavour and colour is caramelisation, there is no molasses. That's just not right for flavour!

Brewer's Invert Sugar derives its special flavour from cane molasses and caramelisation.

To be continued some more ...
 
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peebee

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Just one or two more posts and I cry for help!

If you are waiting for me to post answers ... hard luck! But I will post some potential answers.
 

chthon

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There is the question of temperature. The fructose from invert sugar can be caramelised at 110° C, while glucose and sucrose need 160° C.

There is also a question what are the desired properties of the end product. Using acid to invert the sugar apparently counteracts the formation of Maillard products. Adding lime can stop the inversion and enhance the formation of Maillard products. Formation of Maillard products is enhanced by proteins, which are probably part of unrefined cane sugar.

So you have a sliding scale of temperature to play with, and a sliding scale of acidity/alkalinity, and a sliding scale of impurities.
 
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peebee

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There is the question of temperature. The fructose from invert sugar can be caramelised at 110° C, while glucose and fructose <sic> need 160° C. ...
That confused me! But you're referring to something I said in "the other" thread 🤔

By dropping the temperature of caramelisation (sucrose needs 160C; I thought I'd made that slip up, but what I put was okay) it makes the process a lot more practical as making sucrose caramel often ends up with a burnt pan! And a bit of a stink!

I'm presuming the acid is neutralised before cooking it down further to create caramel and Maillard products? But I'll need to check. Thanks, I hadn't otherwise given it any thought. (I'm not into "sliding", I generally end up falling over).
 

Hanglow

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I've had good results using the oven, set and forget it at 120c at the start of brewday and hoy it in at the end of the boil, just before adding copper finings.

12Ric3Qm.jpg


These samples were taken about one hour apart , (this was at 115c) I used lactic acid to invert it then didn't bother neutralising it and the acid helped drop the boil pH to the correct range for my copper finings to be most effective.

So it's slow, but easy. Could obviously be sped up with using sodium carbonate like ragus after it's inverted - say after 15 minutes or so at the correct temperature maybe?
 

Clint

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Given that Ragus want to sell a ton at a time why hasn't any large home brew suppliers bought and repackaged a ton as they do so with everything else?
 

Hanglow

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It's horrible to work with, either as a sticky syrup or sticky sugar block. too much of a pain in the **** I guess
 

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I've had good results using the oven, set and forget it at 120c at the start of brewday and hoy it in at the end of the boil, just before adding copper finings.

12Ric3Qm.jpg


These samples were taken about one hour apart , (this was at 115c) I used lactic acid to invert it then didn't bother neutralising it and the acid helped drop the boil pH to the correct range for my copper finings to be most effective.

So it's slow, but easy. Could obviously be sped up with using sodium carbonate like ragus after it's inverted - say after 15 minutes or so at the correct temperature maybe?

What type of sugar did you start with? Am I looking at 1, 2, 3, and lastly 4 hours @120 C.in the oven? Did you heat it to 120 C. on the stove top before moving it to the oven?
 

trueblue

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Given that Ragus want to sell a ton at a time why hasn't any large home brew suppliers bought and repackaged a ton as they do so with everything else?

I asked Rob the malt miller the same question at one of the homebrew festivals several years back he replied Regus would not sell to him.
 

peebee

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@peebee : I meant sucrose (corrected in the text). Should re-read my replies...
I did worry after posting my "correction" that I was missing something about these temperatures and mixes of sugars (Invert being a mix of glucose and fructose). Easy to miss some kooky property when quoting from my memory of chemistry 'O'-level 45 years ago!

But @Hanglow's post would have supported me! I remember his original post and thought it sounded odd, but at that time I wasn't even aware of the reduced caramelisation temperature which comes of "inverting". Yeap, shiny new information (for me) being posted by the "teacher": Dodgy! But then I am dodgy (or is that doddery?).
 

foxbat

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The other common idea is "inverting" the sugar (sucrose, a "disaccharide") into simpler sugars ("monosaccharides") is less stress for the yeast. Poppycock! The yeast couldn't give a flying ...
I don't want to derail a thread about invert sugars, well not while it's still on page 1 anyway, but it is worth pointing out that while yeast will merrily ferment out both mono and disaccharides they will produce different flavours in doing so, and if you use enough of it you will notice.

One of the few brulosophy experiments to produce a significant result was the one about fermenting a belgian golden strong with 18% sugar. I use dextrose in my golden strong where nearly a kilo goes into a 24l batch but good old table sugar for priming bottles where the quantity is small.
 

peebee

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I don't want to derail a thread about invert sugars, well not while it's still on page 1 anyway, but it is worth pointing out that while yeast will merrily ferment out both mono and disaccharides they will produce different flavours in doing so, and if you use enough of it you will notice.

One of the few brulosophy experiments to produce a significant result was the one about fermenting a belgian golden strong with 18% sugar. I use dextrose in my golden strong where nearly a kilo goes into a 24l batch but good old table sugar for priming bottles where the quantity is small.
Against my better judgement, I read that Brulosophy article. And came to the obvious conclusion ...


Poppycock!
 

Hanglow

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What type of sugar did you start with? Am I looking at 1, 2, 3, and lastly 4 hours @120 C.in the oven? Did you heat it to 120 C. on the stove top before moving it to the oven?

when it went in the oven then ,1,2,3 hours after, approximately

I heated demerara sugar with some water and a few ml of lactic acid on the stove top till it got to temperature, then put it in and just checked it on occasion. It was probably closer to 115C iirc
 

peebee

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... I heated demerara sugar ...
@Argentum is in the States, I imagine he might think "what the hell is ...". According to Google they call it dark brown sugar (🤨) over there.

athumb.. for using demerara! I'm not going to say anything that might contradict that later. Which could have caused a rumpus (it's connected to a "Victorian ..." thread, and I like the opportunity to use these words!).
 

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One obvious problem with that brulosophy article is that these sugars aren't pure and often crystallise as various hydrates so you can put in the same mass of each but are you really adding the same amount? That being said I wouldn't be completely surprised if there is a pathway directly from disacheride to other flavourful biproducts which you wouldn't have with invert or just glucose.

The other thing I should say is that the acid is catalytic so it can't completely retard the maillard rxns.
 

Argentum

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@Argentum is in the States, I imagine he might think "what the hell is ...". According to Google they call it dark brown sugar (🤨) over there.

athumb.. for using demerara! I'm not going to say anything that might contradict that later. Which could have caused a rumpus (it's connected to a "Victorian ..." thread, and I like the opportunity to use these words!).

A couple decades ago the word 'demerara' would indeed have yielded cross-eyed stares of bewilderment here in the States, but we are slowly becoming civilized, and sugars such as turbinado and demerara (and a few others) are becoming pretty much routine around here of late. Particularly due to the strong rise in the all natural and organic movements.
 

Argentum

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As I understand it, what we are offered here in the States by the big box stores as 'light, medium, and dark' "brown sugar", are merely fully refined white table sugar to which varying degrees and/or darknesses or grades of molasses have been back-added and blended.
 

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