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Old 12-02-2005, 10:25 PM   #1
Janx's Avatar
Dec 2004
San Francisco Bay Area
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My current understanding of candi sugar:

It is in fact just sucrose, table sugar, derived from cane or beets. It dates from a time when refining processes were not what they are today. The Belgian brewers would dissolve the sugar, then let crystals form on strings...rock order to "refine" it and leave behind impurities. It is my understanding that candi sugar is no different from cane sugar. I have also read that despite the prevalence of beet sugar in Northern Europe, cane sugar was more often used because it was more pure. With modern sugar refining methods, it really doesn't matter which you use, as someone pointed out. Sucrose is sucrose is sucrose.

Invert sugar is different. I've been using that in a lot of my beers. British beers have included invert sugar for a long time. It's more accepted there than in Germany, or even among microbrewers in the states. Invert sugar is where you take sucrose and cook it with some citric acid to split it into simpler sugars, as someone mentioned earlier in the thread. It's much more easily metabolized by the yeast and produces a cleaner flavor. It's really easy to make and a lot of fun to add to a big beer.

It's my understanding that the Belgians do use some sort of liquid candi sugar. I don't know if that would be sucrose or glucose/fructose(invert). There seems to be a lot of confusion on this issue. In any event, most Belgian beers are aged for a long time, so even sucrose would have time to ferment out fully.

British brewers can get invert sugar in syrup form, I understand, and have it delivered by trucks to tanks.

I did some experiments after reading that candi sugar was nothing more than sucrose (because bags of sugar are way cheaper than candi sugar at the LHBS). Compared to invert sugar, the cane sugar took a lot longer to ferment out clean. I didn't taste much if any difference. After all, you add sugar to give a strong beer more alcohol without adding flavor or body. And does it ever work!

Now I just go ahead and invert it, saving the yeast some effort, and producing quicker, cleaner results. Just take however much cane sugar you want to use. Add enough water to just make a thick syrup. Add 1/4 tsp or so citric acid (for 2-3 pounds of sugar). Cook it on the stove until it's at about 300 degrees Fahrenheit. I then just dump the hot syrup into my wort. I always make the sugar during the sparge.

Oh don't give me none more of that Old Janx Spirit
No, don't you give me none more of that Old Janx Spirit
For my head will fly, my tongue will lie, my eyes will fry and I may die
Won't you pour me one more of that sinful Old Janx Spirit

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Old 12-02-2005, 10:52 PM   #2
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Sep 2004
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Good info Janx!! Thanks for sharing how to make your own invert sugar!!

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Old 12-03-2005, 05:35 AM   #3
Oct 2004
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Here is a post from a different board , originally posted by Randy Mosher. I found it interesting ....

OK, one more are some posts from HBD on candi sugar. Notice how Randy Mosher talks about Belgian brewers laughing at Americans for buying candi sugar.

"Invert sugar is produced from sucrose by adding invertase and/or acid
and heat. This breaks down sucrose (disaccharide) into its two
components: fructose and glucose (monosaccharides). Pure invert sugars
do not normally crystalize. Belgian candi sugar, which is crystalized,
is NOT pure invert sugar. It is derived from sugar beets, as are many
European table sugars. Thus, it might be argued that Belgian candi sugar
tastes subtly different from American table sugar, which in most cases
comes from sugar cane.

I have heard that Unibroue (Quebec) uses regular table sugar (sucrose
from sugar cane) in its Belgian style beers. They still taste pretty
good to me! IMHO, Belgian Candi sugar (sucrose from beets) at $4 per
pound is a waste of money when you can get table sugar (sucrose from
cane) for much less.

Peter A. Ensminger
Syracuse, NY"

"There is a tremendous amount of confusion on this subject among us
homebrewers right now. I think a lot of the problem is related to the
translation difficulties, and Belgian and American brewers assuming each
knows what the other is talking about.

Having just done the tech edit on Stan Heironymous' new book, Monk Brews,
this subject came up a number of times, and I think we finally got it
pounded into submission. Here goes.

"Candi" sugar may refer both to rock candy (which is what we Americans tend
to think it is) but also to a cooked liquid caramel syrup. In my experience,
this is more often to be case when a Belgian is talking. On old Belgian
labels and in brewing books, candi sugar invariably refers to the caramel
syrup. Properly made, this is a class III caramel and is made from invert
sugar combined with ammonium carbonate or similar source of nitrogen. The
rock candy is definitely not inverted, as invert sugar won't crystallize.

The two are not interchangeable. Caramel syrup has a considerable amount of
both color and flavor, and the flavors are of a distinctly rich caramelly
kind, quite different from semi-refined sugar. Here's a link to the Web site
of a sugar company in Belgium that sells both:

The white rock candy is a waste of money. Sure, it's shiny and cool, but it
is identical in chemical composition to grocery store sugar. Cane or beet
does not matter--the molecules are the same (although your grocery store
probably has beet sugar if it makes you feel better). In Belgium, the rock
candy is not so expensive, which is why it's used. Jeff Sparrow (Wild Brews)
says the Belgian brewers laughed out loud when he told them how much we were
paying for the rock sugar.

I tried a little experiment and ground up some of the white, pale and "dark"
rock candy, and tried to tell the difference. The white and pale (yellowish)
ones were absolutely identical, and I think I might have been able to detect
the slightest hint of character in the "dark." I plan on getting this blind
in front of some judges and see what results I get.

For most brewing purposes, I prefer turbinado or similar semi-refined sugar,
or ethnic "concrete" sugars like piloncillo, jaggery and others. These were
widely used in brewing in England, Belgium and France less than a century
ago, so they're not such a bad fit with tradition.

- --Randy Mosher"

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Old 12-05-2005, 03:28 AM   #4
Aug 2005
Baltimore, MD
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I derived my invert sugar from turbinado sugar. The specific brand I used was "Sugar In The Raw". If you compare this sugar to the crystals you get at the homebrew store (even the "dark" stuff), you'll notice much much more flavor in the turbinado-derived candy sugar. It has a distinctly caramel/toffee flavor, and my friend and I will be using it when we brew next sunday (the 11th).

By the way, I ordered some debittered black malt from midwest homebrew supply, and like Gordon Strong suggested to me in an email, I'm going to try steeping the grains in ~150 degree strike water (in a grain bag) until we get the color we want, then remove it and proceed with 2L pils malt for the mash. It's a different approach than I've used before, so I'll let everybody know how it works. We have some Wyeast 3787 High Gravity Trappist yeast on order as well, and that'll be the first time that we try that yeast.

All in all, next Sunday will be exciting!


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Old 12-05-2005, 05:34 AM   #5
Tony's Avatar
Feb 2005
Saugus, MA
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Excellent thread for sure! Thanks everyone!

My question now...are all these sugars 100% fermentable? I would venture to say yes, but want to make sure.
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Old 12-13-2005, 12:27 AM   #6
Aug 2005
Baltimore, MD
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Fructose and glucose/dextrose, the components of table sugar (sucrose) are 100% fermentable. Sucrose itself is highly fermentable, but I'm not sure if the number is 100% or not.

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Old 12-14-2005, 08:35 PM   #7

Originally Posted by Steve973
I derived my invert sugar from turbinado sugar. ...
I substitute Turbinado sugar for invert or candi sugar in all my Belgian-style wheat ales. It does give them a nice flavor! I just dump it into the brewpot during the last 20 minutes of the boil and stir well.

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Old 12-28-2005, 03:10 AM   #8
Nov 2005
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Does this process reduce the cidery flavor that can be caused by beet-cane sugar???

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Old 12-28-2005, 05:20 PM   #9
Aug 2005
Baltimore, MD
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I haven't gotten any cidery flavor, but I am not speaking from lots of experience. Some Belgian breweries use sucrose anyway. I've also heard that the acidity in your wort will invert the sucrose anyway.

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Old 04-16-2006, 03:54 PM   #10
El Pistolero
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May 2005
Houston, Baja Oklahoma
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I'm bumping this to turn it into a FAQ.
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