According to beer science, a “strong” beer is one which has an initial gravity of 1.064 or higher. However, there is a stark difference between brewing a beer with a high ABV percentage, and simply increasing the alcohol of any beer! The former requires a thorough understanding of the beer making process, and is often not recommended for new brewers. To brew something along the lines of an Imperial Stout, you’d need to take extra care when formulating the initial recipe, as well as watching the fermentation and aging processes very carefully (strong beers typically require an extended aging period).
Fortunately, there is an easier way to make stronger beer if you’re not purposely trying to brew something like a Doppelbock or a Tripel.
How to make beer stronger
To increase the alcohol content of your beer, the answer lies in sugar! Scientifically speaking, this works because the yeast cells consume the sugar you add, and convert it into alcohol as a metabolic process.
For most beers, we recommend corn sugar. A general rule of thumb is that the amount of corn sugar you can use without a significant effect on the flavor of the beer is 10-15% of the total gravity of the beer. For a 5 gallon batch of beer, you will see a net increase of approximately 1.2% ABV with the addition of one pound of corn sugar.
Another option is adding more dry malt extract.This is preferred by brewers who want to make their beer stronger, but not risk having their beer become sweeter. For a batch of beer, if you know the target gravity you would like to reach, you can determine how much dry malt extract to use by using the following calculation which uses a point system to simplify things.
1. Measure your original gravity (let’s use 1.060 as an example) and round off the “1” at the left. What’s left? 060, which we’ll simplify to 60.
2. Multiply your gravity by the amount of gallons of beer you’re making. So, for 5 gallons, we have
5 x 60 = 300.
3. Next, determine the gravity you want to be at. For example, if you want your beer to be 1.070, we take
5 x 70 = 350.
4. Dry malt extract has a value of about 44 points per gallon, so we take our target gravity points and subtract the original gravity, giving us
350 – 300 = 50. Then, we divide that number by 44, which gives us
50 / 44 = 1.13, which is approximately how many pounds of dry malt extract you should use. Keep this in mind when you want to know how to make beer stronger!