Dismiss Notice
Curious about recent updates to the site and app? Check the Announcements forum for updates.
Dismiss Notice
Love Belgian Beer?

Join us Sep 17 in Portland, Maine for Return of the Belgian Beer Fest, featuring hundreds of authentic Belgian beers and Belgian-inspired offerings.

Tickets + more: beeradvocate.com/belgian

How much "sugar" is typically in beer?

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

  1. tectactoe

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2012
    Posts:
    1,376
    Likes Received:
    5,116
    Location:
    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

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2003
    Posts:
    237
    Likes Received:
    615
    Location:
    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
     
    ilikebeer03, Mothergoose03 and Sazz9 like this.
  3. devlishdamsel

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2009
    Posts:
    1,034
    Likes Received:
    1,183
    Location:
    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

    Beer Trader

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2007
    Posts:
    934
    Likes Received:
    1,094
    Location:
    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--

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2012
    Posts:
    484
    Likes Received:
    1,138
    Location:
    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

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2009
    Posts:
    1,034
    Likes Received:
    1,183
    Location:
    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

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2004
    Posts:
    350
    Likes Received:
    130
    Location:
    Alberta (Canada)
    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

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2005
    Posts:
    85
    Likes Received:
    35
    Location:
    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.
     
    phillyhops and StubFaceJoe like this.
  9. darknova306

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2005
    Posts:
    85
    Likes Received:
    35
    Location:
    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

    Subscriber

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2011
    Posts:
    2,337
    Likes Received:
    5,935
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    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 ;)
     
    darknova306 likes this.
  11. TongoRad

    Beer Trader

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2004
    Posts:
    9,884
    Likes Received:
    55,173
    Location:
    New Jersey
    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-
    http://www.brewmorebeer.com/brewing-sugars/
    That 25% remainder in the final beer is dependent on the original gravity of the wort.
     
  12. LeRose

    Subscriber

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2011
    Posts:
    2,337
    Likes Received:
    5,935
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    Good call - I couldn't find that site quick enough LOL! Really straightforward explanation without the usual complications.
     
  13. hopfenunmaltz

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2005
    Posts:
    9,048
    Likes Received:
    6,974
    Location:
    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

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2010
    Posts:
    5,812
    Likes Received:
    11,537
    Location:
    Rhode Island
    pop = hilarious

    Signed,
    New England
     
    montman, mborden, jbertsch and 6 others like this.
  15. Tashbrew

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2007
    Posts:
    201
    Likes Received:
    218
    Location:
    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 Maltose...it goes onto several more etc.

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

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2010
    Posts:
    376
    Likes Received:
    130
    Location:
    New Mexico

    there are some unfermentable sugars.
     
  17. jtmartino

    Beer Trader

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2010
    Posts:
    1,494
    Likes Received:
    1,060
    Location:
    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:

    http://www.snopes.com/cokelore/acid.asp

    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:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acid-base_physiology
     
  18. kot1967

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2012
    Posts:
    37
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    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. tai4ji2x

    Beer Trader

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2007
    Posts:
    581
    Likes Received:
    512
    Location:
    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.
     
    bccocx likes this.
  20. guillemiro

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2010
    Posts:
    29
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    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

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2012
    Posts:
    37
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    Russian Federation
    Percentage depends on the beer variety. More over, the residue (25%) is not must be only sugar
     
  22. TongoRad

    Beer Trader

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2004
    Posts:
    9,884
    Likes Received:
    55,173
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Yeah- just going by rule of thumb, or round numbers there.
     
  23. MisterBisco

    Beer Trader

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2009
    Posts:
    926
    Likes Received:
    2,523
    Location:
    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

    Beer Trader

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2012
    Posts:
    2,976
    Likes Received:
    7,389
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    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

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2011
    Posts:
    380
    Likes Received:
    140
    Location:
    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

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2008
    Posts:
    1,066
    Likes Received:
    857
    Location:
    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

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2008
    Posts:
    1,066
    Likes Received:
    857
    Location:
    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

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2012
    Posts:
    37
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    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 :) .
     
  29. BuckeyeOne

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2008
    Posts:
    1,765
    Likes Received:
    2,220
    Location:
    Washington
    Lagunitas Sucks has sugar or honey added?
     
  30. hopfenunmaltz

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2005
    Posts:
    9,048
    Likes Received:
    6,974
    Location:
    Michigan
    Simple sugars, and honey just has simple sugars, are 100% fermentable. Those are turned into alcohol.
     
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Return of the Belgian Beer Fest

    BeerAdvocate Brings its All-Belgian Fest to Portland, Maine on September 17, 2016. Tickets are on sale now.

    Learn More
  • Get the Mag

    Become a BeerAdvocate magazine print subscriber today.

    Subscribe