What's with the optional sugar? How do I decide if I want all of it, some of it, or none of it?
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Not my recipe, obviously, but I'm going to take a wild guess and suggest that the optional sugar content has to do with what kind of beer you choose to use. jon seems to prefer a *chugging* beer, which I'm guessing has a higher sugar content. I'm going to try his bread this weekend with a pale ale, which is a more bitter beer, so I'm likely going to add more sugar. I'll need to add sugar so that the bread can brown. On the baking side of the kitchen, sugar equals brown. Does that help you?
Half a cup was way too much for a chugging beer, just like you suggested (I put it in the oven beforehand) but I think you're probably spot on about the bitter beer to sugar ratio. Thanks!