What is a Sugar Brew?

The alcoholic beverage market is always expanding, and new products are introduced on a regular basis. One of the biggest trends in alcoholic beverage manufacturing is using cold-brewed or fermented cane sugar as an alcohol base. If you’ve noticed beverages with these terms – or sugar brew – on bottles and cans of alcoholic beverages, you’re probably wondering: What does sugar brew mean?

What is Sugar Brew?

Cold-brewed sugar and fermented cane sugar are more commonly referred to in the alcoholic beverage industry as sugar brews. It’s a type of base used in alcoholic beverages. As the name suggests, sugar brew is made by fermenting different types of sugar such as cane sugar, corn sugar, or beet sugar.

Sugar brew is often compared to malt bases which are made by fermenting steeped, germinated, and dried barley or grain. The process of making malt bases is quite complex, labor-intensive, and costly, as it requires the use of proprietary techniques and sophisticated machinery.

Malt bases are complicated, labor-intensive, and costly to make. As a result, many alcoholic beverage manufacturers have started using sugar brews as the base for their ready-to-drink libations. Fermenting sugar cane, beet, or corn is a lot easier, much faster, and doesn’t require as big of a financial investment.

What are the Benefits of Sugar Brews?

Now that you know what sugar brews are and why so many manufacturers are using sugar as the base in their alcoholic beverages, let’s take a look at some of the benefits of sugar brews.

Naturally Gluten-Free

Malt bases are made, as mentioned above, from fermented barley or grain. Therefore, if you suffer from gluten intolerance, drinking alcoholic beverages that are made with malt bases probably isn’t the best thing for you. Because sugar brews are made without grain, but rather are made from fermented sugar, sugar brew beverages are naturally gluten-free.

Low-Calorie Content

Fruit sugar (fructose) and corn sugar (dextrose) are 100% fermentable yeast. In other words, the only calories that are left over in sugar brew base alcoholic beverages are the calories that come from the alcohol itself.

Conversely, malt sugars can only be fermented partly by yeast. Non-fermentable sugars still remain after the fermentation process, and they add extra calories to the beverages. As such, alcoholic beverages that are made with malt bases not only contain the calories from the alcohol, but they also contain the calories from the malt.


Malt contains natural colors; however, sugar, on the other hand, is naturally colorless. Because of the lack of color, beverages that use sugar brews as their base are a blank canvas for the formulation of recipes that contain an assortment of ingredients. This allows for tastier, more unique flavor options.

Neutral Flavor

In regards to flavor, sugar bases are much more neutral than malt bases. This is largely due to the fact that much of the flavor comes from the boiling process. The neutral flavor of the base means that manufacturers can use an assortment of ingredients to create more unique flavors.

Cost Effective

Finally, sugar brews are much more cost-effective than malt bases. The reduced cost is directly related to the process of fermenting sugar from cane, corn, and beet. This fermenting process isn’t as complex, labor-intensive, and as time-consuming as fermenting malt.

Additional Reading: 2022 Brewers Association Beer Style Guidelines

What can Fortress Nutrition LLC do for you?

Rest assured that you’re in good hands with Fortress Nutrition. To learn more about how we tailor our blending, ingredient sourcing, logistics, consumer packaging, and other services to meet customer needs, and find out how we can partner with you to ensure compliance with new GMO laws, contact us today.