Sugar is used in a variety of beer styles, each with its own unique reasons for its inclusion. In traditional Belgian ales like Tripels and Quads, sugars are added to increase the alcohol content without adding body, keeping the beer light and drinkable. Belgian candi sugar, in particular, is favored for its contribution to the complex fruity and spicy flavors characteristic of these styles. On the other hand, in British ales, brewers often add invert sugar, which can lend a rounded sweetness and improve head retention.
The flavor profile influenced by sugar largely depends on the type used and the style of beer. In general, using sugar in brewing can result in a drier, less filling beer with increased alcoholic content. However, certain specialty sugars can also impart specific flavor nuances. For instance, dark candi sugar or brown sugar can contribute caramel or toffee notes, while honey or agave can add a subtle floral or fruity sweetness. Sugar usage is therefore a valuable tool in a brewer's arsenal, allowing them to fine-tune the balance of flavors in their creations.
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