HOMEBREW Digest #5483 Mon 12 January 2009

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  Belgian candi sugar (again) ("Larry")
   (Help Desk)
  2009 Coconut Cup (Scott Graham)

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---------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: Mon, 12 Jan 2009 08:05:07 -0500 From: "Larry" <larrymax at bellsouth.net> Subject: Belgian candi sugar (again) Sorry for bringing up a topic--Belgian "candi" sugar--that has been discussed many times here, but the queue is short and maybe someone can add to what has been noted before. You see, I am an American who is in Belgium at the moment (yes, sampling great beer among other things), and it occurred to me that I might bring back a bag of candi sugar and try my hand at brewing an abbey style, which is something I have never done. To back up a notch, I have been brewing less and less over the 15 or so years since I began in the hobby (and following HBD less and less, I'm afraid) because the kinds of beers I enjoy have become more available. So, I have felt that I could more easily buy a great Belgian beer than attempt one myself. Anyway, every supermarket has bags of what is labeled "candi" sugar, but it isn't clear to me whether any of these is what a brewer is to use. My only experience with "candi" sugar has been seeing it in homebrew shops in crystalline or syrup form at fairly high prices (considering it's just sugar). Now, the majority of the stuff labeled "candi" sugar in Belgian supermarkets looks, feels, tastes and is priced every bit like the ordinary brown sugar that is available in every US supermarket. This candi sugar is available in light and dark varieties, just like brown sugar back in the US. Candi sugar in syrup form is also available in Belgian supermarkets, and I am told that it is commonly used as a topping for pancakes. Candi sugar in chunky crystalline form is available as well, but it appears to be like that which is available in the US simply as an esthetically pleasing way to add the same sort of brown sugar to one's coffee or tea. Which of these, if any, is what I need for brewing abbey beers? Or is what I am seeing simply the same thing as what we in the US and elsewhere call "brown" sugar, and brewing sugar is something else entirely? If so, then the term "candi" is meaningless for our purposes. I bought a bag of a dark brown granulated candi sugar and tasted it. Although I didn't do a side-by-side comparison, my initial impression is that the taste is indistinguishable to me from what we in the US call "brown sugar." It looks, feels and tastes like the ordinary, inexpensive brown sugar to which I have long been accustomed in the US. Of course, it's difficult to distinguish for people to distinguish chemical subtleties in sugar that may be readily apparent to the yeast. This leads me to ask what the difference is between "candi" and "brown" sugars. Other than those labeled "candi" sugar, there are no other sugars that are brownish in color in typical Belgian supermarkets. What exactly, then, does the word "candi" signify in this context? Does it simply mean the same thing to Belgians as "brown" means to Americans? My other questions regarding the differences, if any, are those that have been asked and replied to many times, on HBD and elsewhere. It's likely, for example, that the candi sugar that I find here is made from beets, not sugar cane. Is it possible then for "candi" sugar made from cane to exist? Or is beet sugar a defining characteristic? I have also seen references to "invert" sugar, to the effect that true candi sugar used in Belgian abbey style beers must be invert sugar. As you may know, some homebrewers have suggested adding citric acid or lemon juice to produce invert sugar. But other comments I have seen suggest that invert is not a defining characteristic, i.e., there can exist candi sugar that is not invert sugar. Are the bags of candi sugar I see here invert sugar or not? Is this sugar what the brewers here use or not? What does "candi" as the term is used here in Belgium really signify, especially vis-a-vis the term "brown" as used in the US or elsewhere? And lastly, the big question to which I have never seen an authoritative answer: labels like "candi" and "brown" aside, exactly what kind of sugar do the abbey brewers use, and how can I obtain it? I have ordered the "Brew Like a Monk" book, which I am told may have answers, but I am sure the HBD gurus have equally good, if not more scientific, knowledge. Return to table of contents
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Date: Mon, 12 Jan 2009 19:52:14 -0500 (EST) From: Scott Graham <grahams at cs.fiu.edu> Subject: 2009 Coconut Cup Greetings from the members of the Miami Area Society of Homebrewers (MASH) in Miami, FL. It is almost time for this year's Coconut Cup homebrew competition. We are accepting all of the BJCP categories, as well as our special COCONUT BREW category. Entries are due between January 26th and February 6th. Please use the on-line entry form available at the Coconut Cup website, http://www.miami-homebrew.org/coconut.html . Final judging will take place on February 20th and 21st, 2009. Please contact me if you are interested in judging. We will have some fun activities planned for out-of-town judges. I hope to see you (or at least your beers and meads) in Miami! Scott Graham Coconut Cup Judge Coordinator [1159.9, 169.3] Apparent Rennerian Return to table of contents
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