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Old 11-25-2009, 01:22 PM   #1
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Default Candi Sugar - a necessity?

I'm starting to prepare some recipes for future brews, and I'm wondering if the addition of candi sugar is a necessity for Belgian style beers? I've always thought sugar was added just to increase ABV, but I see a lot of recipes that use the candi sugar. So am I missing a reason for why it is used?

If I can make a recipe that fits the style without using the candi sugar am I really going to notice a difference?

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Old 11-25-2009, 01:27 PM   #2
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Sugar in Belgian Beer rises the abv and dries out the beer, it helps contribute to that "crispness" belgians have. Strong alcohol without the heavy body of beers of similar gravities. And the different grades of candi sugar Light to dark contribute a bit of flavor. But really not much, since most of the sugar ferments away leaving the caramel notes behind (like using honey or brown sugar).

But candi sugar is nothing scary or really even something you need to buy. Many of us make our own quite easily.

All Belgian candi sugar really was/is is the cheapest sugar they could buy in bulk (usually beet as opposed to cane, because sugar beets are local, but any sugar will do) boiled to the right color and consistency.

And in the old days it would vary from order to order, it was just what they could find in bulk cheaply, and used as a cost cutting adjunct more than anything. But it just gives Belgian beers their character.

It's the same thing as making CANDY....everything from soft caramels to hard candy, depending on how much you use and how long you boil it.

Here's several recipes;

http://www.franklinbrew.org/brewinfo/candi_sugar.html

You don't really need to order and over priced "special" Belgian sugar, you just need a 5 pound bag of whatever is cheap at the grocery store, a pan, whatever extra ingredients the recipe might call for (usually an acid or cream of tartar) and a candy thermometer, usually in the same aisle as the bag of sugar in the grocery store.

If you can boil beer, you can make your own.

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Old 11-25-2009, 01:28 PM   #3
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check down a few threads, this was discussed yesterday...

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Old 11-25-2009, 01:36 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by vespa2t View Post
check down a few threads, this was discussed yesterday...
Oops. Usually I check on things like that.

After looking at that thread, though, the question I still have is whether or not it is "out of style" to make up the OG with malt/grains as opposed to using the candi sugar, or if that would make it less "belgian?"
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Old 11-25-2009, 01:55 PM   #5
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the question I still have is whether or not it is "out of style" to make up the OG with malt/grains as opposed to using the candi sugar, or if that would make it less "belgian?"
Candi sugar is used is used to boost the alcohol content without adding extra body to the beer. Adding malt/grains is going to add more malt profile in the final product, so yeah, you are probably making it less 'Belgian."

Keep in mind too that a lot of really sharp brewers swear by using table sugar instead of candi sugar.
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Old 11-25-2009, 02:02 PM   #6
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It could be argued that anything not made in Belgium isn't Belgian, so don't worry about that. What makes a beer Belgian-style is pretty arbitrary, but usually there are a few defining characteristics: yeast strain, overall flavor profile, use of malts/adjuncts, and hop selection. There are a few choices in each of those categories that the brewer can control to bring about a final product that could be described as Belgian-style.

To answer your initial question, no, candi sugar is not a necessity. Its fun to use the commercial product every once in a while, and easy, but as Revvy pointed out, you can also make your own. Or you can use corn sugar or cane sugar or just nothing at all.

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Old 11-25-2009, 02:27 PM   #7
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Generally speaking sugar doesn't come into play until about a gravity of 1.067. If you use all malt for the higher gravity beers it will be out of style. Do you have to source candi sugar, no. If you read the other thread there's enough material for you to make an educated decision whether to use candi, invert or sucrose.

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Old 11-25-2009, 02:32 PM   #8
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Generally speaking sugar doesn't come into play until about a gravity of 1.067. If you use all malt for the higher gravity beers it will be out of style. Do you have to source candi sugar, no. If you read the other thread there's enough material for you to make an educated decision whether to use candi, invert or sucrose.
Funny that you mention that. The recipe I'm currently playing with in BeerSmith has an estimated OG of exactly 1.067 without the candi sugar. Adding 1# of it, takes it to 1.074.
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Old 11-25-2009, 02:33 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Weezknight View Post
After looking at that thread, though, the question I still have is whether or not it is "out of style" to make up the OG with malt/grains as opposed to using the candi sugar, or if that would make it less "belgian?"
I would argue yes....Your body would be different from the same beer if you used the sugar. And if you entered it into a contest as a Belgian beer, you more than likely be dinged for it.

But not everyone brews to style, nor does everyone enter contests. So if you don't care and you like it, then you brew whatever you want. And if you want to describe it to someone who might kinda know about beer, you could say it's "Belgian-esque" or it's your interpretation of a Belgian style.

Look at Stone's "Cali-Belgique" IPA to see what I mean. http://www.stonebrew.com/cali/




Just like with cooking you could put your own "flair" on a dish, but if you were to put coconut milk and lime into a traditional French dish and serve it as French cuisine you could be shot. BUT if you called it "Indo-French Fusion" you would be touted as a gastro genius.
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Old 11-25-2009, 03:49 PM   #10
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I personally do use Candi Sugar in my Belgian Brews. In fact, I made some Candi Sugar last night. It is not difficult to make and gives me a more "I made that" satisfaction. I also like the taste that I get from it.

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