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Old 03-30-2011, 10:27 PM   #1
brian74
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Default Belgian beers...without candi sugar?

Belgian beers are among my favorite styles, but I never like the thought of adding a simple sugar to a recipe just to increase the alcohol potential. What if I left out the candi sugar? I'm not sure I'll actually do it this time since this will be my first Belgian to make (I'm making an Ommegang Hennepin clone). I think leaving out the candi sugar should not change the flavor since it does not contribute to the flavor profile...I could be wrong.

Maybe the flavor of the beer would be changed due to the fact that the OG will be lower and the yeast not have the potential to produce flavors (not just alcohol) that are characteristic of the beer in question.

Thoughts?

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Old 03-30-2011, 10:36 PM   #2
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As I understand it, part of the reason for the addition of the sugars is that the additional alcohol thins the beer. Otherwise the beer would be too thick and too heavy for the style. Not to say you shouldn't try it -you may find you like it better without.

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Old 03-30-2011, 10:39 PM   #3
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i think a large reason for the sugar is to dry the beer out - you might lose that quality a bit. i wonder if mashing just a hair lower, but with more grains, would give you a more representative style without the sugar addition...

i added sugar to my tripel that i just bottled and glad i did - came out exactly like i hoped (except darker)

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Old 03-30-2011, 10:41 PM   #4
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Then it wouldn't be the same beer. Why the hate on adding sugar to styles that call for it? It's not like you are openning a can of cooper's and adding 10 pounds of sugar....Belgian beers are a style that are supposed to have simple sugars in it. It raises the abv, but it also cuts down on some of the body.

That whole thing about not adding sugar or else you make "cidery" beer is one of those little "chestnuts" that noobs repeat without thinking deeper about it. When we talk about it being a bad thing, is when the ration of sugar to malt quite high, like frat boys trying to bump up their coopers can...yeah that's a bad thing...but we're not talking about that here, we're talking about an acceptable brewing process for belgian beers/

I mean do you like Belgian beers? Are they crappy tasting because of the simple sugars that are added? If you like them, that's how they achieved the beer you like. It's kind of illogical, not to want to do the correct thing for the style of beer.

*shrug*

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Old 03-30-2011, 10:42 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slurm View Post
As I understand it, part of the reason for the addition of the sugars is that the additional alcohol thins the beer. Otherwise the beer would be too thick and too heavy for the style. Not to say you shouldn't try it -you may find you like it better without.
+1

That's exactly what I have read as well. If you made a beer that is 8 or 10% with malted grains alone, the beer would be really heavy. Although I would bet it would be delicious either way..
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Old 03-30-2011, 10:47 PM   #6
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I think leaving out the candi sugar should not change the flavor since it does not contribute to the flavor profile...I could be wrong.
um...maybe with clear candi sugar...but do you not think that any of the darker grades of sugars have flavor? Have you not tasted caramel, or brown sugar or mollases or treacle or butter scotch...especially simple caramel which is just white sugar boiled dark? You don't think there's any flavor to them?
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Old 03-30-2011, 10:47 PM   #7
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The beer would be different for sure. The darker syrups add a lot of flavor to the beer although the lighter ones don't add much if anything. The added sugars also help to dry the beer out more so than you would get with all grain. In some of the stronger styles you would miss out a whole host of flavors caused by the yeasts reaction to the sugar, the flavor of the syrup, and last but not least the alcohol content and warmth. Alcohol changes the way your tastebuds interpret the flavor of the beer and changes the "mouthfeel." Not saying it wouldn't still be good beer but it would be different.

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Old 03-30-2011, 11:07 PM   #8
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Revvy, you made some good points about the candi sugar not being equal to the ratio of the Cooper's kits...makes sense.

Just because someone is considering changing a recipe does not mean they are hating on a particular style; after all, that is what homebrewing is all about. Have you never changed a recipe that made it not true to style? Very likely so.

And the candi sugar in question is clear. That is why I speculated it would not contribute flavor. Of course, a dark substance will have flavor of its own.

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Old 03-30-2011, 11:11 PM   #9
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And the candi sugar in question is clear. That is why I speculated it would not contribute flavor.
But it still affects the body, like others have said, if you replace the sugar to equal the same og with malt, you will have a heavier beer. If you leave the sugar out entirely you also will have a heavier beer, but with a lower og/abv than your recipe. It's your choice but you won't be getting the same balance with the rest of the recipe by leaving it out.
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Old 03-31-2011, 07:26 AM   #10
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If you don't use sugar, you won't end up with a proper Belgian Strong Ale. Most of the really good ones use quite a lot of it, actually (more than 10%, some 20%). You like Duvel? More than 15%. Westmalle Tripel? 20%. (going from memory here)

It's not a question of changing the recipe "because that's what homebrewing's all about". It sounds like you haven't brewed one yet. Brew it right, THEN tweak it if you want. And sugar is an essential part of Belgian Strong Ales. It's not about raising the alcohol, it's about making the beer less sweet and thinning it a bit. In Brew Like a Monk, which you should read, they constantly say it's about making the beer digestible or easier on the stomach.

Anyway, don't fear sugar in styles that call for it. I've brewed many Belgians and have used a lot of just plain old table sugar in them with fantastic results. Give it a go. It's an essential ingredient in making Belgian Strong Ales.

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