Saturday 17 September 2011

Brewers invert sugar No. 1

I've started getting in the ingredients for the beer recipe from 1911 I'm planning to make.

A 25kg block of No.1 invert sugar has arrived from Ragus, and I can see why it's not found in home brew shops. It really is one solid block that looks like it was poured into the bag in the box then left to set solid. It would be a right pain getting it into home brew sized portions.

It has a white outer crust and a golden, slightly moist inside. I've tested the organoleptic propeties and it's like honey flavoured tablet.

Its figures for those that care about such things are:

Total sugars: 78.5 - 84.5%
Mineral matter: 0.5% max
Organic non-sugar: 1% max
Moisture: 16.7 - 17% max
Refractometer BRIX: 81.4-81.7
pH: 5.0 - 6.0
Colour: 25 - 35 EBC
Brewers extact: 321.5 -326.5 litre degrees per Kg (also given as 72 - 73 Lbs/2cwt for any imperialists out there).

If I remember rightly granulated sugar is 380 LDK and a moisture content close to zero. If you take into account the moisture content of the brewers sugar its extract is very similar, so not a lot of unfermentable material in No. 1 sugar. I wonder how the darker brewers sugars compare? As ever further research is called for.


  1. "I've tested the organoleptic properties …

    Excellent - I must remember that the next time I offer my wife a spoonfull of something I'm cooking: "Would you like to test the organoleptic properties, darling?"

  2. "...and I can see why it's not found in home brew shops."

    I have chopped up three of these blocks into homebrew sizes. It's a pigging awful, messy job. After much experimenting (or arsing about) we found that a bow-saw was very good. Not used as a saw but just used to slice through the mass of sugar like a knife. But by the time you have done 50kg everything within 20 feet is covered in sugary goo. Nice.

    I wouldn't want to do that in my homebrew shop, that's for sure.

    Which is a pity because I like beers made with invert sugar. It leaves a distinctive taste and sweetness in the beer. Don't tell me it is 100% fermentable: it still somehow leaves a sweetness. Can't explain it, it just is.

  3. Cracking term isn't it? So much more scientific than than just tasting something.

    Looking at the analysis the invert sugar should mostly ferment out, but it's definitely got more flavour than granulated sugar. I'll be sure to give the organoleptic properties of the beer a thorough testing!

  4. We're gearing up to 'invert' some sugar at home. Online advice varies from "it's easy!" to "block out three days in your diary, get protective clothing...."

  5. hahaha Invert is actually dead easy to make. A buddy of mine wrote up this little script and table for all the recipes I do at Barclay Perkins.

  6. Interesting, I had always imagined it being a syrup.

  7. You get brewing syrups too. There's some handy info posted on PDTNC's blog:

    I've a feeling blocks of sugar were more common. When you get shown round Fuller's brewery there's an old sugar dissolving vessel.

  8. Reading an article on the defunct Aitken's brewery in Falkirk and the head brewer said they added sugar which he also described as being like blocks of tablet.