Against the Grain: Sugar Puff Beer

John Wright's Sugar Puff beer. Photograph: John Wright
John Wright’s Sugar Puff beer. Photograph: John Wright

Written by John Wright for Guardian UK

Forager-John-Wright-for-w-003I hate waste, and spend a lot of time devising interesting ways of using kitchen scraps. No chicken carcass or leek top escapes my kitchen without being used in a stock, and all pastry off-cuts are turned into (largely inedible) jam tarts rather than being consigned directly to the bin.

A neglected box of Sugar Puffs whose contents have set into a solid, intractable lump is a fairly regular sight in our kitchen and it is only recently that I hit upon the (though I say so myself) rather brilliant idea of turning them into beer.

Provided they have not gone completely stale, using Sugar Puffs to make beer is not as mad as it sounds. Although barley is by far the most important cereal for beer-making other cereals are used too. Well-stocked bars will often have a few bottles of wheat beer sitting on their shelves and they are well worth trying.

Sugar Puffs come complete with fermentable sugars, including 3% honey, and there is also plenty of sugar locked into the starch of the puffed wheat grains. Puffed wheat is also known as torrified wheat and occasionally finds its way into commercial beers.

Sugar Puff beer ingredientsSugar Puff beer ingredients: malted barley, hops and a big lump of stuck-together Sugar Puffs. Photograph: John Wright

What it lacks is the enzymes needed to convert the starch to sugar. No doubt it would be possible to use a bottle of amylase, but that would hardly be in the spirit of true homebrewing. Fortunately malted barley has more enzymes than are needed to break down the starch in its own grains and can be used to convert starches from other sources. For the purist there is the possibility of using malted wheat grains but they are rather hard to find.

I only made a tiny amount as I was experimenting. A more sensible quantity is 10 to 12 litres. To make this quantity of Sugar Puff Beer follow the recipe for my orange beer forgetting about the orange peel and sugar and replacing the malt with:

1.2kg Pale Ale malt
900g Sugar Puffs

If the specific gravity of your wort is less than 1038 after boil then add a little dried malt extract. If it is higher, then just raise a cheer. The result is a light but full-flavoured bitter, with a clean hoppy tang and yes, I fancy I can taste the Sugar Puffs. A perfect breakfast beer.

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