It's sugar week here at Barclay Perkins. A bit weird, coming from someone who hasn't eaten any for almost 40 years. But here I am, doing my bit to restore brewing sugar to its rightful place. Right at the heart of British brewing.
For many years, I shared the general prejudice against the use of sugar. Why? Because I didn't know any better. As I've learned more about brewing, it's become clear that sugar isn't some nasty, cheap ingredient, but a valuable weapon in the brewer's arsenal.
Yet sugar's role in British brewing has largely been ignored or glossed over. Homebrew recipes for British styles are usually all malt, despite very few commercial beers being made that way. Why is that? Is it just some subliminal effect of the Reinheitsgebot that has turned homebrewers against sugar? And surely the Brewers' Association's definition of a traditional brewer doesn't help:
"A brewer who has either an all malt flagship (the beer which represents the greatest volume among that brewers brands) or has at least 50% of it’s volume in either all malt beers or in beers which use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor."
Time for a table. One that shows the steady presence of suger in postwar British brewing:
Around 15% was the average amount of sugar in grists. That's very similar to what I've seen in brewing records. It must be true.
Now where can I find out more about the composition of proprietary brewing sugars?
Paul Pry, West Street - Paul Pry, West Street, Blackley. (c) Manchester Local Image Collection. Click here to view full image . The Paul Pry beerhouse was tucked away on West ...
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