Brewing Sugar

A specialist sugar designed to aid fermentation, develop flavour and create colour when making beer. Ragus is the last remaining manufacturer of brewer’s candy blocks in the UK today.

What are the applications of brewing sugar?

Brewing sugar is a specialist sugar that is uniquely used in just a single application, the production of beers. It is used in beers for colour and flavour development, to aid fermentation, and act as a nitrogen diluent to help clarify beer. This type of sugar is not suitable for use in other food and beverage applications.

However, it is used in different styles of beer, including ales, lagers, stouts and porters. It can do this because it is custom formulated to suit the style of beer being fermented. Indeed, brewing sugar is produced in different colours that vary from amber to dark brown, with the colour also indicating the strength of flavour, which ranges from mild to strong, as below:

• A lighter brewing sugar has an amber colour and a mellow flavour, making it best suited to modern pale ales with a European Brewery Convention (EBC) value of 25-35.
• A medium brewing sugar is a darker shade of amber. It typically ranges between 60-70 on the EBC colour scale, meaning it is well-suited to traditional bitters and strong ales.
• A darker brewing sugar is a dark brown colour. Approximately 130 EBC, it is ideally suited to stout and porter applications.

Brewing sugar is typically made up of cane molasses, invert sugar and dextrose. This formulation allows it to be broken down into its different sugar constituents, which are 95% readily fermentable.

Tasting notes

The flavour of brewing sugar ranges from mellow to very rich and depends on the colour, which differs from light amber to dark brown

Storage and packaging

Storage temperature

15 - 20⁰C, dry conditions and away from direct sunlight

Shelf life

In excess of 12 months if left unopened

Packaging and storage options

Brewing sugar is stored in 25kg cartons with blue plastic liners.


Description Approx. (on sample)
Total sugars (L) 78.5-84.5%
Total sugars (M) 78.0-84.0%
Total sugars (D) 77.5-83.5%
Moisture (L) 16.7-17.0%
Moisture (M) 16.7-17.0%
Moisture (D) 16.7-17.0%
Refract. Brix (L) 81.4-81.7%
Refract. Brix (M) 81.4-81.7%
Refract. Brix (D) 81.4-81.7%
pH (L) 5.0 – 6.0
pH (M) 5.0 – 6.0
pH (D) 5.0 – 6.0
Sulphur dioxide (L) <9ppm
Sulphur dioxide (M) <9ppm
Sulphur dioxide (D) <9ppm
Ash (L) 0.0 – 1.5%
Ash (M) 0.0 – 1.1%
Ash (D) N/A
Colour EBC (L) 25 – 35
Colour EBC (M) 60 – 70
Colour EBC (D) 120 – 140

How is brewing sugar produced?

Brewing sugar is a candy sugar made from invert sugar syrup, cane molasses, and dextrose. Producing this bespoke sugar product requires extensive sugar expertise and world-class manufacturing equipment, brought together via advanced techniques. As a result, it is only produced commercially in large inversion pans and cannot be made domestically.

In addition to being produced at different colours and strengths, it is also important to note that brewing sugar can be manufactured into a solid candy block or as a syrup. With Ragus being the last remaining manufacturer of brewer’s candy block in the UK today, we will explain the candy block production process, rather than syrup production process, here.

The first stage of the process begins by dissolving cane sucrose in an inversion pan with water, where the sucrose is dissolved to a super saturation. Then, hydrochloric acid is introduced to reduce the pH to between 1 and 1.6. Once the temperature of the pan has reached 70°C and settled at this temperature for over two minutes, the cane sucrose starts to dissolve in the water and becomes a syrup, with the sucrose inverted into glucose and fructose. To achieve the ideal ratio of sucrose to glucose, the syrup is polarised to -20, before an alkaline agent neutralises the syrup and increases its pH to between 6 and 6.5.

Cane molasses is then released from holding tanks and into the inversion pan. Depending on the variation of brewing sugar being produced, the colour and flavour of the invert syrup are adjusted accordingly. Once the pan has cooled, pure dextrose seed is added to enable the thick syrup to form the solid candy blocks.

The thick syrup must then pass through a 2000-micron filter and is filled into 25kg cartons with blue plastic liners. These cartons are then held in ‘block formers’ for five days or longer to allow the syrup to crystallise into solid candy blocks which, once formed, can be likened to the appearance of toffee. Once the candy blocks have formed, the cartons can be loaded onto heavy goods vehicles and distributed to customers.

Food safety

Ragus adopts British Retail Consortium (BRC) standard procedures including HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) and undergoes a process of temperature/time, filtration, and final stage 80-micron filter prior to packing.

Ragus’ 90-year experience manufacturing specialist sugars means it has the expertise required to tailor the right brewing sugar formulation for your beer. Contact a member of our customer services team to discuss your unique product requirements.

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