A dash of sugar, a spoonful of honey and doses of other sweet fermentables add complexity (and a bit more booze!) to these sipping brews.
Colorado Vixnu Imperial IPA: This 9.5%-ABV Brazilian brew reimagines an IPA with Rapadura cane sugar, which weaves tasty burnt sugar notes through peachy hops and toasted bread flavors.
Founders Sweet Repute: Residual syrup inside the maple barrels that aged this 12.6%- ABV wheat wine kick-started an unintentional secondary fermentation and laced the brew with lip-smacking sweetness.
Left Hand Widdershins: Turbinado sugar’s raw sweetness augments this oak-aged, 10.7%- ABV barleywine’s candied fruit and caramel notes, and tempers its brash alcohol and hop bitterness.
Mikkeller Black Stout: Dark cassonade (a French brown sugar) laces subtle sweetness through this explosive beer’s roasted malt, coffee and dark chocolate notes, and revs the beer up to a potent 18.1% ABV.
Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel: Traditionally used to soften abbey ales, Belgian candi sugar’s subtle stone fruit sweetness pairs perfectly with floral-and-fruity hops in this 9%-ABV Old World IPA.
Greenbush Brother Benjamin: Clover honey and beet sugar help pump this imperial IPA up to 10% ABV while adding earthy, herbal tones to the caramel- and-grapefruit-laden swallow.
WAIT… SUGAR IN BEER?
It’s more common than you think. Any beer that’s bottle-conditioned—hefeweizens, strong ales, your buddy’s homebrew—has extra yeast and sometimes a dose of sugar added to the bottle right before it’s sealed. That sugar (some derivative of corn, cane or beet) feeds the yeast that, in turn, breathes CO2 into the liquid, upping the beer’s carbonation.