How much sugar can you feed to a fermentation

Sat Jan 16, 2016 8:53 am

So I was thinking about taking one of my regular brews and then splitting the ferment toward the end of fermentation and feed the split portion (maybe a couple gallons) with some simple sugar to make a "surprise, you're hammered" version of the 3-4% beers I usually make.

The big question in my head is, how much can I feed it. I was thinking I could do a slow feed by filling a condiment squirt bottle (see below) with a sugar solution and then just put that upside down on the opening of the carboy and let it slowly drip in and feed the yeast more sugar.
Image

But how much can I feed it before things start going south? I haven't done the belgian late sugar feeding thing before, so I have no experience with it.
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Re: How much sugar can you feed to a fermentation

Sat Jan 16, 2016 9:19 am

It's going to depend on the strain. Different strains have varying amounts of alcohol tolerance. IIRC both White Labs & Wyeast publish that info on their respective sites. Aim for just under that stat.
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Re: How much sugar can you feed to a fermentation

Sat Jan 16, 2016 9:26 am

I guess my bigger concern is more when the flavors are going to start getting screwed up from the additional yeast activity from the sugar. Usually I use 1968 which will probably poop out at 9-10%. Adding another 1% ABV to the beer with sugar wouldn't be a big deal, but could I do 4% (doubling) and still have it not taste like there is something wrong in there. I want the alcohol to hide, so tasting like a big alcohol bomb would be no good.
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Re: How much sugar can you feed to a fermentation

Sun Jan 17, 2016 5:46 pm

There's no real cut-n-dry answer there. It's going to depend on the beer/recipe. Some flavors are going to mask it better than others. Since it's something you brew regularly, why not split off 2 side batches on your next brew, go light on one & heavy on the other. You'll end up with one of three outcomes - both are too much, both are not enough or it's somewhere in the middle.

I doubt it'll be the first, but if on the off chance it is, scrap it.

Depending on how heavy you go, it could possibly be the second. Doubt it, but try again heavier. Keep in mind you're not trying to nail it first time around, just establish some data points.

Chances are it'll be between. Maybe it's smack dab in the middle, maybe it's closer to one than the other. You should get a rough idea just by the difference in the taste of the two. Then you'll have an actual target to aim for on the next round & you can adjust accordingly.

That's how I'd approach it.
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Re: How much sugar can you feed to a fermentation

Sun Jan 17, 2016 6:00 pm

Yeah, that seems like a good plan. The base beer I was going to use was either an English bitter or maybe a black mild (solidarity clone), probably the latter.

I definitely agree that gathering data points is the best approach.

Unfortunately, I did some woodworking before my shop had a dust collector and my curtains didn't work out so well. Consiquently, now my whole basement is covered in a thin layer of oak dust. Great for sanitation...

So, I have to give the basement a good douche before I brew anything again...lame.
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Re: How much sugar can you feed to a fermentation

Mon Jan 18, 2016 6:52 am

You might get away with a bit more booze with some dark malts in there. Just a guess.

My shop is in the basement too. I have a single-stage Jet collector. It helped immensely, but there's still dust everywhere down there. However, I was selling things off a lathe, not just hobby volumes. It's hard to get effective collection off a lathe, regardless.

Besides the shop, my reloading room is down there. What's better for fermentation that lead, gunpowder & danish oil? :D
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Re: How much sugar can you feed to a fermentation

Mon Jan 18, 2016 2:04 pm

You might want to check out the CYBI epsiode on DFH 120 that Sean Paxton brewed. Not exactly the beer you're going for, but he did add LOTS of sugar.
http://www.thebrewingnetwork.com/post1607/

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Re: How much sugar can you feed to a fermentation

Mon Jan 18, 2016 5:57 pm

Ozwald wrote:You might get away with a bit more booze with some dark malts in there. Just a guess.

My shop is in the basement too. I have a single-stage Jet collector. It helped immensely, but there's still dust everywhere down there. However, I was selling things off a lathe, not just hobby volumes. It's hard to get effective collection off a lathe, regardless.

Besides the shop, my reloading room is down there. What's better for fermentation that lead, gunpowder & danish oil? :D


I'm currently building a 2 stage cyclone + hepa air cleaner/dust collector. I'm hoping I can make it so the motor is variable speed and then just open all the blast gates and let the thing run overnight (?) to let it clean the air of the really fine stuff after I get done working down there. We'll see how it does, I mostly wanted to build something useful, so that was the candidate. I've already sliced open 3 fingers working on it, so I think I'm right on track.
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