Sugars are a great fermentable to add both depth and flavor to your homebrew. There are quite a few options out there so it can be confusing. I’ve made a handy sugars comparison table to help sort them out. I’ll do my best to give you tips for each from flavoring to priming.
Sugars will boost alcohol but can also add flavor.
Sugars can add quite a bit of alcohol with just a small addition. Pound for pound malt can’t compare to the gravity boost. Sugar definitely needs to be used with caution though as it can quickly turn your brew into more gut rot than homebrew. Increased alcohol burn and dryness come with most sugars. Certain types of sugar such as maple syrup, molasses, or honey can add some nice notes to a homebrew when used in the right quantities in your grain bill. I’ve had really good luck with maple in stouts and honey in a few lighter beers.
Non-fermentable sugars have their place in certain styles.
There are a select few sugars that add sweetness and other benefits without raising final alcohol content. These are known as non-fermentable sugars because the yeast can’t eat them. They almost all add body and mouthfeel to some degree. Use them in beers or ciders where you want residual sweetness without the risk of bottle bombs. It’s important to note that some of these sugars can do a number on your digestive tract in the wrong quantities or to someone with a sensitive stomach.
Priming is typically done with dextrose or corn sugar but you can easily use any fermentable sugar for carbonating your homebrew. Sugars vary so use a priming calculator when possible. I’ve included a generally safe 2.4 carb volume amount for each sugar listed below. I would advise sticking to CO2 or corn sugar as you won’t pick up much extra flavor but to each their own. Definitely use an actual carbonation calculator if you want to carbonate true to style. Most beers will be fine at the 2.4 to 2.5 range but not all.
Now let’s get onto the sugars comparison.
|Name||Flavors||Ingredients||PPG||Priming Per 5 Gallons At 70F(oz)|
|Amber Belgian Candi Syrup||Caramel, Vanilla, Toasted Bread||Beet Sugar, Water||38||6|
|Dark Belgian Candi Sugar||Sweet, Strong Caramel||Sugar Beets||38||5|
|Dark Brown Sugar||Sweet, Molasses||Sugar, Molasses||45||5|
|Honey||Sweet, Floral||Honey||38 – 42||5|
|Lactose Sugar||Creamy, Sweet Non-Fermentable Sugar||Milk Sugar||41||No|
|Light Belgian Candi Sugar||Sweet, Caramel||Inverted Sugar||46||5|
|Light Brown Sugar||Sweet, Molasses||Sugar, Molasses||45||4.25|
|Maltodextrin||Body, Mouth-fell, Sweet Non-Fermentable Sugar||Maltodextrin||39||No|
|Maple Syrup||Sweet, Maple||Maple Syrup||30||5.25|
|Rice Syrup Solids||Sweet, Lightens Body||Rice Grains||44||5|
|Splenda||Sweet Non-Fermentable Sugar||Maltodextrin, Sucralose||N/A||No|
|Cane Sugar||Sweet||Cane Sugar||46||4|
|Turbinado||Sweet||Evaporated Cane Sugar / Juice||44||4|
|Corn Syrup||Sweet||Corn Syrup, Salt, Vanilla Flavor||37||5.5|
|Agave Nectar||Sweet||Agave Nectar||52||Don't Do It!|