S is for Sugar

S is for Sugar

S

Sugar is what is fermented to make the alcohol in beer, mead, wine, and other beverages.

But not all sugar is created equal.

The names of sugars typically end with the -ose suffix. The ones you’ve heard of most likely are sucrose, glucose, and fructose. There’s also dextrose and maltose.

Glucose has the basic chemical formula of C6H12O6, and can be described as a six-sided ring. This is the basic sugar of the bloodstream.

Alpha-D-Glucopyranose.svg

Alpha-D-Glucopyranose” by NEUROtikerOwn work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Fructose is C5H10O5, and is a five-sided ring.

Sucrose, or common white sugar, is a molecule made up of one glucose and one fructose sugar together.

Saccharose.svg

Saccharose“. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Maltose, as you might guess, is malt sugar. This is what we get from malting our grains.

α-Maltose

Maltose2” by NEUROtikerOwn work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

And finally dextrose, or corn sugar, which is the common sugar used for carbonating the beer after bottling. Dextrose is a form of glucose – the chemical formula is the same, but the atoms are in a slightly different arrangement.

As you can see, each sugar is a slightly different size and shape. Yeast has to do work to break the sugar down for energy, releasing carbon dioxide in the process. Some sugars are easier to break down than others, and different strains of yeast have their preferences.

Different sugars also impart different flavors to the drink. Not any sugar will do. For example, my efforts to make a wheat beer using sucrose with wheat malt (mimicking using Peeps for brewing) wound up being awful!

I’m participating in the April A to Z Blogging Challenge. The goal is to write a post prompted by a letter of the alphabet on each day of April (except Sunday). My theme this year is brewing. Visit my other A to Z posts by clicking here.

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