A guide to sugars

When you first start brewing, you’ll most likely be using “Kits + Kilos”, i.e. a 1.7kg beer concentrate can, plus a kilo of some variety of sugar, but sugar comes in lots of different varieties for brewers. We’ve taken the guess work out so you know what to pick.

Base Sugars

Dextrose – The obvious choice in brewing sugars, dextrose boosts alcohol content without altering much in terms of flavour. It is very easily fermented.

Maltodextrin – Used to add body and head retention to beer. It is not easily fermented so will not increase the alcohol content by much, but also will not add sweetness.

Lactose – An unfermentable sugar that adds sweetness without boosting alcohol content. Used to add sweetness to ginger beer, cider and unusual beer styles like “milk stout”.

Dry Malt Extract – As the name implies, a dry powdered sugar that is extracted from barley malt, and thus contributes to the colour, flavour, head retention and mouthfeel of the beer. Available in a light or dark variety.

Our Blends

Body Enhancer/Booster – A blend of dextrose and maltodextrin, boosts the alcohol content appropriately, while also contributing body.

Flavour Enhancer/Booster – A blend of dextrose, maltodextrin and light dry malt extract, boosts alcohol content, contributes body, colour and flavour.

What do I use?

Plain dextrose or Body Booster are great for ciders or ginger beers where you want a clean finish and don’t want to add malty flavour or additional colour.

If your ginger/cider kit includes an artificial sweetener, you might opt to leave it out and add 1kg of lactose instead for an off-sweet cider.

For most beers, we’d recommend using a body booster, or preferably a flavour booster, or the beer might not support much head, otherwise you can just use dry malt extract for an extra dose of colour and flavour.

You can also experiment and make your own blends, such as a 50/50 mix of light/dark malt for your amber ales. Ask us if you’re not sure what to use.