Sunday, February 4, 2007

Belgian Sugar Experiment

There are so many different ingredients that can go into making the perfect batch of beer that I like to isolate one at a time so that I can see how it impacts the beer. In this case I chose to look at how different specialty sugars can impact the flavor and color of a Belgian style Dubbel.

My process was rather simple, I made 6 gallons of pale, moderately-hopped wort, that I then chilled and put into separate fermenters. I then took five interesting sugars (Dark Soft Candi, Dark Candi Syrup, Amber Candi Rocks, Homemade Caramel, and Muscovado) along with white table sugar as a control, each sugar was boiled with a little bit of water (to sanitize and make it easier to incorporate) and then added to the wort in its own fermenter. I then fermented, conditioned and bottled each batch. The result was six surprisingly different batches from one mash.

The only big disappointment from the group was the white sugar, because I did not have enough room in my fermentation fridge or enough small fermenters the beer ended up tasting boozy and rather unpleasant. In general there is nothing wrong with adding refined white sugar to your beer, I have used it as up to 20% of the fermentables, with good yeast management and temperature control the beers did not come out cidery or unpleasant.

The homemade caramel was made using instructions from the great book Brew Like a Monk. It was easy enough, heat one bottle of light Karo Corn Syrup with 9 grams of Diammonium Phosphate (DAP, a yeast nutrient) until the desired color and flavor are reached. While the batch containing the caramel did end up tasting pretty good the caramel did not ferment (.009 gravity from the sugar, finished .009 higher than the other batches) leaving the beer too sweet for my tastes. In a future sugar experiment I am planning on trying other methods for making caramelized syrups at home.

James at Basic Brewing Radio was kind enough to have me on to discuss this experiment and taste the beers. If you have any interest in listening to James, Andy, Steve and me drink and talk about the individual batches give the podcast a listen here or or search for it on iTunes.

Basic Tasting Reults:

White – Cidery, hot, rather unpleasant
Dark Soft Candi Sugar – Complex, rummy, caramel
Dark Candi Syrup – Dark, rich, full, thicker, complex
Amber Candi Rocks – Clean, fruity, lets the base shine through
Homemade Caramel – Sweet, full, dark, caramel
Muscovado – Rummy, brown sugar

Sugar Experiment (Dubbel)

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 6.00
Total Grain (Lbs): 12.47
Anticipated OG: 1.062
Anticipated SRM: 11.9
Anticipated IBU: 23.7
Brewhouse Efficiency: 72 %
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes

9.00 lbs. American Pilsener
1.22 lbs. Experimental Sugar
0.75 lbs. Cane Sugar
0.75 lbs. Maris Otter
0.50 lbs. Aromatic Malt
0.25 lbs. Vienna Malt

1.50 oz. Hallertau Hersbrucker @ 85 min.
0.63 oz. Hallertau Hersbrucker @ 17 min.

White Labs WLP530 Abbey Ale

Mash Schedule
Dough In 15 min @ 135
Sacc Rest 45 min @ 145
Intermediate 14 min @ 163
Mash out 15 min @ 168

7/2/06 3 cup starter made with DME and nutrient, no activity the next morning. Full activity by the following day, a bit concerned how long it took, but it should be fine.

Brewed 7/5/06 by myself

Briess Less Modified Pils used as the base as B3 was out of Belgian Pils

1 base beer with 6 different sugars added to make 6 one gallon batches: .75 lbs of cane sugar added to boil and 3.25 oz (16.25 oz/5 gallons) of each sugar boiled with water and added to one fermenter for each batch.

Amber Hard Candi 1.056
Dark Candi Syrup 1.058
Dark Soft Candi Sugar 1.060
Homemade Caramel with DAP 1.057
Muscovado 1.056
Table Sugar 1.056

Brew went well, had some minor temp issues during the mash. The white sugar and candi rock batches got more trub in them than the others. Beer turned out a bit under gravity, probably as a result of not boiling down to a low enough volume.

All 5 special sugar batches were fermented in 1 gallon jugs in a 66 degree fridge, while the white sugar batch was in a 5 gallon fermenter in my approximately 72 degree closet. 30 second shoot of O2 added to each batch (except white which just got a good shake) 4 hours in. All 6 with activity by the next morning.

The next day up to 68, the following 70

7/12/06 Syrup down to 1.012 (79% AA) (I assume the others are similarly done fermenting) not a particularly good flavor, sort of grainy with some spicy/banana flavors, not much contribution from the sugar. I lowered the fridge to 50 degrees to drop yeast/crap out of suspension.

8/4/06 Bottled with 5/8 oz corn sugar per batch.

White 1.009 (White)
Dark Soft 1.009 (Soft)
Dark Syrup 1.009 (Syrp)
Amber Rocks 1.008 (Rock) (Forgot the priming sugar syrup on this batch so I added 1/2 tsp corn sugar per bottle added)
Caramel 1.018 (Carm)
Muscovado 1.008 (Mus)


Derrick Jacob said...

How do you make soft candi?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I bought it. They described it as what is centrifuged out, what is left behind is the syrup. If you didn't have it you could probably add 3:1 table sugar to candi syrup for a similar profile.