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01-25-10

Make your own Belgian Candi Sugar

I’m a big fan of drinking and brewing Belgian beers. Many Belgian beers require the addition of Belgian Candi Sugar. Brewers use the sugar for many reasons as it will help boost the ABV, increase fermentability, and thin the mouthfeel of the beer. As a homebrewer, I’m always looking for ways to save a buck and Belgian Candi Sugar is one of those ingredients that is super expensive. Luckily, you can easily make your own sugar without much effort. I’ve done this several times and I’ve been very happy with the results. In the steps below I will explain the process of making Belgian Candi Sugar and hopefully show you how easy it is.

Step 1: Gather the ingredients

You will need the following items in order to create your own Belgian Candi Sugar:

  • Table sugar (I use five pound bags of sugar)
  • Water (I use 2.5 cups of water)
  • Food grade acid (lemon juice or cream of tartar are my go to’s)
  • Boiling pot
  • An accurate thermometer that can sit in boiling mixtures for extended times (candy, fryer, or digital thermometer with a long probe will work fine)
  • Tin foil
  • Tray

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Beer Review #271 Table for Two

02-18-03I have yet another beer that I originally had a few months ago, but knocked off the last bottle today. Table for Two is a “Belgian-style table beer” brewed by the Flying Dog Brewery. I’ve reviewed 12 of their beers in the past, so this makes lucky number 13. I’m really not sure if I have ever had a Belgian-style table beer before. This one comes in at a very sessionable 5.0% ABV. The bottle also indicates that it is a “beer brewed with honey.”

Table for Two pours a beautiful golden orange. It is perfectly clear and has a fluffy white head that sits atop the liquid below. The nose is mostly sweet but nondescript. There was no honey to be smelled which shouldn’t be surprising as honey added to beer usually ferments out and leaves nothing but alcohol and a lighter body. There is a slight bit of Belgian yeast spice in there but the sweetness wins out.

On the first line of my “taste” area of my notes I have, “not a whole lot happening.” It has a sweet front that is a bit honey-like in its flavor but isn’t complex in the slightest. The Belgian spices come through on the end but they are not very assertive and really play as a mellow flavor contributor to this beer. It’s not to say that this is a bad beer, it is just very simple and reserved.

As far as Belgian beers go this one is very tame. I can’t remember having a Belgian-style table beer before so this one could be right on the money as far as styles goes. It is still a very drinkable beer which is what I think it is supposed to be. It isn’t packed with flavor, but what it does have is nice. I would like to see the Belgian yeast flavors become a bit stronger in this beer, but overall it’s a drinkable, sessionable beer. (more…)

Belgian IPA Recipe

I’ve been in a bit of a hop kick recently. I know, I know, a craft beer person in the mood for hops, big shocker. I also fell back in love with Belgian beers this summer so I decided to marry the two ideas in to one. As I have mentioned before, the Belgian IPA style is still in development so you can kind of do what you want with it. I basically had two criteria when designing this beer 1). It has to be hoppy and 2.) the Belgian flavor components should be noticeable and add to the quality of the beer.

I began this recipe by taking a look at my Belgian Tripel recipe. It’s a pretty simple recipe with three malts and two types of hops. I then gave my IPA recipe a look and it also had a simple recipe with four grain and two hops. I then began to compare the malts and hops in use. Clearly the IPA hops would overpower any of the Tripel’s hops, so I ditched any of the traditional Belgian Tripel hops and went with high alpha-acid American hops. The base malts were not far apart and I only had American 2-row in hand so that won out. The rest you can see below:

  • 12 lbs. 2-row
  • 2 lbs. Munich
  • 1 lb. German Wheat Malt
  • 1 lb. White Table Sugar (added @ 15 mins)
  • 1 lb. Dried Malt Extract (added @ 15 mins)
  • 1 oz. Magnum @ 60 mins
  • 1 oz. Columbus @ 5 mins
  • A half and half mix of WLP530 and WLP500

As I said the base malt is pretty standard. I really like adding Munich malt to almost all of my beers as it adds a nice touch of bread and complexity to my beers. The wheat malt is there to enhance the body and to aid in head retention. I didn’t want to murder my base malt supply in making this beer so I added a bunch of sugar and a pound of dried malt extract to this one to supplement the base malt. The table sugar is also there to make sure the yeast get off to a quick and happy start.

The stats for this one can be seen below:

  • OG: 1.094
  • FG: 1.024
  • ABV: 9.39%
  • IBUs: 77

I love trying new things with my brewing and developing a recipe around a beer that doesn’t have a set style was both a challenge and a joy. This beer is currently kegged and I will get tasting notes up shortly.

Beer Review #223 Hennepin

Today’s beer comes from Brewery Ommegang of Cooperstown, New York. It is a traditional Farmhouse Saison ale that comes in at 7.7% ABV. I was a bit confused when I looked at this bottle as it has all of the Ommegang markings, but the label says that this beer was brewed in Belgium by Duvel Moortgat, NV. According to some info that I was able to find on the net, Ommegang will outsource some of their beer to the Duvel Brewery whenever they have to do changes and/or construction on their brewery in Cooperstown. The last time that I was able to find this happening was in 2011, so I don’t know if I got an old bottle or if they are doing additional changes at the brewery.

Hennepin pours a beautiful blond color with a creamy white head. The beer pours clear out of the bottle with some sediment at the bottom. Against the instructions on the bottle, I swirled my second glass of this to see what the yeast tasted like with the beer. The nose first hits with a nice malty sweetness and then flows into a wonderful light Belgian spice. Nothing on the nose was overly aggressive and seemed to be in balance nicely.

On my first taste I was ecstatic to taste how creamy and flavorful the malt was. Sometimes Belgian beers become too much about the spices and not enough about the malt (particularly US versions). This beer had a wonderful, semi-sweet, grainy body that flowed nicely with each sip. The Belgian spices are solidly there, but well balanced with the hops. I recently reviewed another Saison that I considered to be the “poster child of what a Sasion should be” and I think this beer could fall into that realm as well.

This beer is really outstanding. Everything is in perfect balance and it is packed with flavor. I’m going to be buying another one of these beers shortly and maybe even attempting be make my own Saison. I really can’t say enough kind words about this beer. Brewery Ommegang puts out some great beers, but this might be on of their best achievements. (more…)

Beer Review #218 Ovila Saison

I hear a bit of press when this beer came out so I decided to pick myself up a bottle. I’ve been waiting for a time to try it and I could think of no better then a day off in the middle of the week (score). Ovila Saison is brewed by Sierra Nevada Brewing Company and comes corked and caged, a first for a beer that I have had from them. This beer comes in a 7.0% and it is actually a series of beers that Sierra Nevada is undertaking. You can read all about the series here, but basically they are brewing traditional Belgian beers with monks in California. I had no idea monks really existed in the U.S., but cool.

Ovila Saison pours a light orange color with a slight cloud in the middle. There is a generous white head that floats atop the liquid below. On my first smell I was surprised at how flat the nose was. There were some dull Belgian spices in there, but no malt, heat, or anything else to really make note of. Generally I expect a bit more out of the nose of a Saison but there is always room for me to learn more.

A nice smooth malt is the first thing to shine on the first sip of this beer. There are some really good Belgian spices that come in and help finish out the beer. I really have nothing bad to say about how this one tastes. It is super balanced and the spices come in at just the right time. Not only are the spices timed correctly, but they are just strong enough to fully balance out this beer.

I wouldn’t call this one super complex but I might look to it for inspiration when brewing a similar style of beer. I really enjoyed this one. It is everything that I hoped it would be and it is presented in such a nice, clean way. If you see this one around, try it out. This is a poster child for what a Saison should be. (more…)