How much "sugar" is typically in beer?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by tectactoe, Jan 29, 2013.

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  1. tectactoe

    tectactoe Initiate (0) Mar 20, 2012 Michigan

    Now I know that this answer probably varies from beer to beer, but I'm pretty clueless when it comes to the in-depth chemistry of fermentation and the like.

    Typically, how much sugar ends up in a beer? And, not to sound completely ignoramus (but whatever, I'll ask anyway), is this the same type of sugar that you'd find packed in a can of pop?

    I'm a big freak when it comes to oral hygiene, but I've never given much thought to how beer can affect your teeth/gums. Just curious, I guess. How would a beer compare to a can of pop (in terms of oral hygiene, of course)?

    Thanks guys.
  2. Tballz420

    Tballz420 Initiate (0) Mar 4, 2003 Minnesota

    Usually all of the sugar is eaten by the yeast which turns it into alcohol. There are certain beers which are brewed at different temps to leave some in, but at least as far as I know it all is converted in most beers

    So most of your dental problems will come from passing out without brusing your teeth, and not from whats in the beer
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  3. devlishdamsel

    devlishdamsel Initiate (0) Aug 1, 2009 Washington

    Depends on how much of the yeast metabolizes the sugar and i believe this is called the attenuation percentage. The more sugar which is metabolized by yeast, the less sweet the beer should be and the higher the alcohol percentage is. Again this is what I read. I can't wait to actually have a much better understanding of this process.
    LeRose likes this.
  4. bccocx

    bccocx Initiate (0) Jan 13, 2007 Texas

    Completely different sugar than soda (high fructose corn syrup). Most of the sugars that beer have (before fermentation) are glucose from the various malts. The glucose is converted over to alcohol + carbon dioxide during the fermentation process.

    As far as beer being bad for your teeth, I would say it's probably a little safer than coffee / tea. There are some acids in beer that aren't great for your teeth, so just brush!
    digdug1810 likes this.
  5. --Dom--

    --Dom-- Initiate (0) Dec 22, 2012 Missouri

    I asked a brewer the same question recently. He said wort is basically sugary water and when you put the yeast in, the yeast eats most of the sugar. Unless you boil it at a slightly higher temp, that's how you get more long chain sugars, and you use a yeast that doesn't eat the long chain sugars. Beer brewing geniuses please feel free to correct me as I know little about this. I think though too, some beers have just plain old sugar added, or honey, like Lagunitas Sucks or Beerhive Tripel, or Hopslam. Either way I don't think it's as bad as the typical processed sugar you'd think damages your teeth.
  6. devlishdamsel

    devlishdamsel Initiate (0) Aug 1, 2009 Washington

    Personally I find making sure to brush your teeth after drinking, especially your tongue will prevent any if not all cotton mouth or teeth issues.
  7. ericj551

    ericj551 Initiate (0) Apr 29, 2004 Canada (AB)

    You're on the right track, except that it's the mash temperature that affects the amount of fermentable sugar in beer.
    JrGtr likes this.
  8. darknova306

    darknova306 Initiate (0) Jan 13, 2005 New York

    The sugar you'll get in a sweetened drink like soda is simpler sugars, like sucrose. Sucrose will be broken down easily by beer yeast and fermented. The residual sugar that you taste in a finished beer is a longer, more complicated, carbohydrate chain that beer yeast just can't break down. After fermentation, all the simple sugars are gone, which is (partly) why you won't get the "sugary sweetness" in a finished beer that you'd get in a soft drink.
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  9. darknova306

    darknova306 Initiate (0) Jan 13, 2005 New York

    While I'm not entirely sure, I believe sodas are more acidic than beer (a combination of citric acid for flavor and carbonic acid from the high levels of dissolved CO2). So they'd be more detrimental to your teeth.
    phillyhops and Sazz9 like this.
  10. LeRose

    LeRose Grand Pooh-Bah (3,427) Nov 24, 2011 Massachusetts
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    Those who are saying attenuation and mashing are on point. The idea is to produce fermentable sugars from the grain (mash) when you make the wort (the sugary liquid) so the yeasts are happy little alcohol factories after the boil, so ideally very little sugars remain.

    Acids are just as bad on teeth - most sodas have some acid in them. Remember the stories about cleaning chrome bumpers with Coke - look a the label and see it has phosphoric acid in there. And there's been ads on TV about orange juice causing tooth decay (citric acid).

    I reckon drink up and brush well :wink:
    darknova306 likes this.
  11. TongoRad

    TongoRad Grand Pooh-Bah (3,826) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    Here's an article that goes into a touch more detail, but generally wort is made up of a number of sugars, from monosaccharides up to trisaccharides, and dextrines. Usually 75% is attenuated (depending on the yeast and the wort makeup- where the true art of brewing lies, imo), and the unformentable larger sugars and dextrines remain-
    That 25% remainder in the final beer is dependent on the original gravity of the wort.
  12. LeRose

    LeRose Grand Pooh-Bah (3,427) Nov 24, 2011 Massachusetts
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    Good call - I couldn't find that site quick enough LOL! Really straightforward explanation without the usual complications.
  13. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Pooh-Bah (2,549) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    Phosphoric acid. That is why you can clean car bumpers with it, or some say it will eat the enamel on your teeth. Coke classic has been said to have a pH of around 2.5 -3.0. That is less than most Lambics, but those have little sugars to balance the acids.
  14. Providence

    Providence Pooh-Bah (2,366) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    pop = hilarious

    New England
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  15. Tashbrew

    Tashbrew Initiate (0) Dec 29, 2007 California

    Depending on beer style...and how the brewer interpets the style as well as the yeast used. Almost all Craft beer is used to have 'body, or mouthfeel' this is built into the beer recipe and is created in the mash. Mashing in at high temps will create unfermentable sugars known as Dextrins...this is what needs to happen if the malt being used has enzymatic power(can convert it's starch into sugar). Heavier beers of all color have 'specialty' malts in them like caramel malt, chocolate malt and black malt etc. These malts have no diastatic power so the contribution is color, flavor and mouthfeel.

    The last thing is beer yeast. Many beer yeasts have alcohol tolerance levels. Beers like Barleywine and Imperial Stout have so much fermentable sugar that certain yeast can 'poison' themselves before all fermentable sugar has been consumed...known as a stuck fermentation...result in high residual sugar. Yeasts are single cell organisms and like most living things picky about what they eat. They go for the simplest sugars first and then the most complex.
    Sucrose, Fructose, Glucose, and then goes onto several more etc.

    I hope I answered th OP's question...but it's looking more like a ramble...
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  16. sunkistxsudafed

    sunkistxsudafed Initiate (0) Apr 30, 2010 New Mexico

    there are some unfermentable sugars.
  17. jtmartino

    jtmartino Initiate (0) Dec 11, 2010 California

    Coke won't harm your teeth with regular brushing. It has about the same pH as orange juice. As anecdotal evidence I've consumed coke/diet coke almost daily for a decade and I have never had a single cavity nor any tooth damage. I brush at least once a day. Most toothpastes offset dietary risks pretty well. For more credible evidence, see the Snopes article here:

    Beer is the same - won't harm your teeth with regular brushing (unless, of course, you already have tooth problems or calcium issues.)

    Also regarding acidic foods, another completely ridiculous fallacy circulating around the internet is the idea that acidic or alkaline foods significantly affect your body's pH. The truth is that even small deviations of your body's pH will result in physiological conditions that are dangerous and may be fatal. Your pH usually stays between 7.38 and 7.42, and your body's mechanisms and the buffer solution nature of your blood does a good job at keeping everything regular. Your stomach acid (hydrochloric) is a lot stronger than most foods you will ever encounter. Wiki has a pretty good entry on this issue:
  18. kot1967

    kot1967 Initiate (195) Sep 12, 2012 Russian Federation

    What does it mean SUGAR for ST

    There is no sugar (sucrose) in the beer, unless specifically putting. There is a mixture of sugars (saccharides), the main is maltose (maltose is sugar too.)

    But "in terms of oral hygiene" there is no difference
  19. chinabeergeek

    chinabeergeek Initiate (0) Aug 10, 2007 Massachusetts

    HFCS is a combination of approx 55% fructose, 45% glucose. (plain sucrose, aka table sugar, is quickly broken down into 50/50 fructose/glucose by your body.)

    malt is mashed mainly to produce maltose, not glucose, although some glucose (and also bigger chain sugars like maltotriose and dextrins like maltodextrin) is also produced in the mashing process.
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  20. guillemiro

    guillemiro Initiate (0) Aug 8, 2010 Maryland

    Great article. The description of which sugars are and aren't fermentable is very useful. One small mistake, though, is that sugars are not extracted from the grains. Instead, a family of enzymes called amylases break down the long-chain starches (polysaccharides) into smaller, fermentable sugars (oligosaccharides). This is why the wort needs to be controlled ~150 F. At lower temperatures, the enzymes will have very little activity while at higher ones they could denature, rendering them inactive.
    TongoRad likes this.
  21. kot1967

    kot1967 Initiate (195) Sep 12, 2012 Russian Federation

    Percentage depends on the beer variety. More over, the residue (25%) is not must be only sugar
  22. TongoRad

    TongoRad Grand Pooh-Bah (3,826) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    Yeah- just going by rule of thumb, or round numbers there.
  23. MisterBisco

    MisterBisco Initiate (0) Feb 18, 2009 New York

    It should be noted that plenty of brewers, especially for bigger beers, will add adjunct sugars (table sugar, honey, etc) that are essentially 100% fermentable, meaning that even though there would be MORE sugar added to that beer, it should end up a drier finish than it's non-adjunct'ed beerthren.
  24. Stevedore

    Stevedore Grand Pooh-Bah (5,010) Nov 16, 2012 Oregon
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    As a homebrewer, I'd like to also add that milk stouts tend to be sweeter because of the lactose in the milk. The brewer's yeasts that we use can't ferment lactose, which makes milk stouts what they are.
    phillyhops likes this.
  25. squirrely2005

    squirrely2005 Initiate (0) Aug 26, 2011 Texas

    Sugar by any other name is still sugar.

    Anyway I've been wonder the same lately since I've been trying to start keto again and I'm curious how much beer I can get away with. Obvious basically none at first though.
  26. WickedSluggy

    WickedSluggy Savant (1,093) Nov 21, 2008 Texas

    Beer can have a lot of sugars in it. Obviously the higher the gravity the more residual sugars are in the beer. But most carbonated soft drinks are worse for your teeth. A can of Coke may not have any more sugar that a bottle of Bigfoot Barleywine, but coke contains a fairly substantial amount of phosphoric acid. Remember, sugar is not bad for your teeth. What is bad is the acids left by the bacterial when they metabolize sugar. The acids in soda are somewhat damaging to the enamel layer on your teeth. Even sugar free sodas can damage the enamel layer.
  27. WickedSluggy

    WickedSluggy Savant (1,093) Nov 21, 2008 Texas

    It is mostly sugar. However things like mash temperature and grain bill effect to what degree they are simple sugars like maltose and maltotriose or longer chain sugars (dextrines/oligoscharides, polysacharides)
  28. kot1967

    kot1967 Initiate (195) Sep 12, 2012 Russian Federation

    The total extract in beer 3-7% wt. Approximately 2-3% not sugar. - dextrins, glycerin, acids ect. In “light” beers with a “high fermentation degree” (dont know exactly this term in English) when extract about 3%, the residual sugar is the same with a dry wine thus less than 0.5 wt%. In general the amount of residual sugar depends on the type of yeast and brewer wishes.
    But in terms of dental health, its need to alcohol % wt consideration instead of sugar one. The probability of teeth losing ex potentially linked to alcohol content :slight_smile: .
  29. BuckeyeOne

    BuckeyeOne Initiate (0) Mar 9, 2008 Washington

    Lagunitas Sucks has sugar or honey added?
  30. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Pooh-Bah (2,549) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    Simple sugars, and honey just has simple sugars, are 100% fermentable. Those are turned into alcohol.
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