Friday 19 February 2021

The mystery of Glucose Syrups

John Percival wasn't wrong when he said that "nothing is so puzzling or so annoying as the use of the term Golding" but I bet he'd have had a few words to say about the term "glucose syrup" too. You might think it's straight forward: glucose syrup, a syrup of glucose, but in fact you'd be wrong. 

As the Handbook of Brewing puts it:

"glucose syrups used in brewing are in fact solutions of a large range of sugars and will contain, in varying proportions depending upon the method of manufacture, dextrose [glucose], maltose, maltotriose, maltotetraose, and larger dextrins."

"Glucose" syrups are in fact hydrolysed (i.e. broken down) starch solutions. Starch can be thought of as being made up of large chains of glucose units and depending on where the chain is broken a range of molecules will be produced: a single unit broken off gives glucose, units of two are maltose, three maltotriose, four maltotetraose and longer molecules we usually call dextrins. 

Here's  a table showing the composition of different glucose syrups made using acids and/or enzymes to hydrolyse the starch and comparing the sugar spectrum to wort:

So the amount of glucose in a glucose syrup is in fact highly variable. When buying a glucose syrup you need to look carefully at what its composition is, the one I use mostly at work is actually high in dextrins and has very low fermentability. 

Sunday 14 February 2021

Trying beers from lagerland

 One of  my favourite types of email landed recently. It was the type that has "would you like some free beer?" in it. Much better than the ones with "we've made some food, here's a link to some pictures". The beer in this case was from the Engel brewery, somewhere in Germany, and sent to me by The Sausage Man. Not sure what's going on there. 

The word "Engel" caused me a feeling of unease so I had to look up what it means. You'll be pleased to hear that it's not the singular of authoritarian sidekick, but in fact means "angel". Which is nice. 

The beers were a mixed selection, though I was pleased to see there was no helles (the German for "boring"). They also send a tall, chunky glass, sadly too narrow to clean easily so soon to be sent to the back of the cupboard. 

I started on the Dunkel, which had a reassuringly wonky label showing that the beer's craft, though I'm not sure what was going on with the screw top. It has a rich brown colour, with not much on the nose apart from a whiff of brimstone, showing that this was indeed a lager. Indeed it's clean tasting with a slight malty caramel taste with a touch of DMS.

The Pilsner poured a clear golden colour and had some honey on the nose. It was slightly sweet, with again some DMS. It was crisp and refreshing but I'd have preferred some more bitterness. 

And as if by magic that's exactly what the next beer had. The Keller Pils had a slight haze and there was a yeast sediment in the bottle, moving closer to beer as god intended. It smelt of traditional hops, was smooth and full bodied, and had more bitterness than the previous beer which was what I was after. 

The Dunkel Hefeweizen was the real star. Yeast in the container from which it is served and none of that lager malarkey. This is how god wants beer to be, none that brimstone business. The best wheat beer I've had in ages. 


Back to lager with the Kellerbier, a touch of lagery DMS on the nose, smooth mouthfeel with a malt taste balance by the bitterness. 

They also threw in a shandy, which to be fair definitely has the edge on Shandy Bass, though I can't see myself ever spending money on such things. 

And that ended my latest research. On this evidence I'd still place Germany forth out of the the First Class Beer Countires, so good but still room for improvement.