After a few years of brewing with the invert syrup one finds at bakery supply stores (light, medium, and dark invert) I finally decided last week that it was high time I try and make my own. In the past, I have had good success with the commerical product in my English ales, though I was never really that impressed with the flavors the sugar contributed - and didn't have much hope for the homemade stuff. Aside, it is interesting to note that most historical English ales did use invert syrup for a sizable percentage of fermentables, often with the higher gravity ales featuring more syrup than the lower gravity ones; an all malt beer was not necessarily a more expensive, higher quality beer.
Anyways, after doing some reading on the topic and finding the necessary ingredients, I made my first batch of invert syrup this morning. The basic process, as so well outlined by this blog (http://www.unholymess.com/blog/beer-brewing-info/making-brewers-invert) basically involves dissolving some form of demerara or turbinado cane sugar in boiling water, adding an acid to 'invert' the sugar, and reducing the solution at a set temperature until you achieve a syrup with the color and flavors you desire. It seemed easy enough and was, though my results were not exactly as I had hoped. I was originally aiming for a 75L, No.2 syrup but due to some problems I was only able to get a 15-25L, No.1 instead; part of my problem was that I over reduced too quickly and didn't realize I could continue to add water to maintain viscosity. The flavor of my invert syrup is fine, though it it extremely thick and sticky. Pouring this stuff is going to be a major PITA.
English Special Bitter
Batch Size (Gal): 4.00
Total Grain (Lbs): 6.50
Anticipated OG: 1.045
Anticipated FG: 1.010
Anticipated SRM: 8.7
Anticipated IBU: 31.8
Boil Time: 60 Minutes
70.5% - 5.50 lbs. Pale Malt, Maris Otter
6.00% - 0.40 lbs. Crystal Malt 40L
11.3% - 0.75 lbs. No. 1 Invert Syrup
1.50 oz. East Kent Goldings @ 60 min for 28.3 IBU
0.50 oz. East Kent Goldings @ 10 min for 3.5 IBU
1.00 oz. East Kent Goldings @ Flameout
Yeast: Wyeast Labs 1968 or 1318
Mash 152F for 75 min
If anyone is interested in making their own invert syrup, I highly recommend taking a look at the blog
posted above and at the wonderfully interesting
barclayperkins.blogspot.com for more technical information and history.