A few weeks ago we brewed a Jubelale 2009 clone which we partigyled into a Bonus Bitter. The beer started at 1.036, finished at 1.008 for 3.6% ABV, and is indeed a nice, light, easy-drinking bitter. But there was a flavor problem: good bitterness at the front and maltiness at the back, but a huge black hole of nothing in the middle. It’s hard to describe; the initial bitterness changes to a slightly tannic taste without any body at all (like a glass of bitter water) before the final malt appears. What can plug that hole?
Brown sugar just happens to have the right flavor profile to complement the tannic note and add some body to the hole in the middle. The molasses notes are just a bonus, but still to style as British brewers often use various brown sugars, caramels, or molasses for color and flavor. The only question was how much to add…
A solution of 3 parts boiling water to 1 part sugar was made, whisking the sugar until completely dissolved. Three 6oz glasses of the beer were poured. The first was the control with no sugar added. The second received one teaspoon of sugar solution, and the third glass two teaspoons. Results indicated that one teaspoon was the best amount; it was a noticeable improvement over no sugar at all, while two teaspoons was too sweet. Calculating from one teaspoon per 6 ounces to the 4 gallon batch gave about 1.75 cups for the whole keg.