Thursday, March 19, 2015

Homemade Belgian Dark Candi Syrup

Belgian Dark Candi Syrup is super expensive, at roughly $8/# after homebrew shop mark up, making any beer with it a big investment.  As a homebrewer, I tend to like to do things myself instead of paying for someone else to make it for me.  I decided to try my hand at making my own Dark Candi Syrup.  I used information from Nate O's Brew Log to make my syrup.  I looked at quite a few sources and how-tos online, and found his to not be as intensive as others, as well as easy to follow, and he claimed to have good results after making 100+ test batches.  Of course I added a couple of twists to mine, like blending 4 different sugars to try to get an extra layer of complexity.

What you will need:

Candy Thermometer
Large stock pot or Dutch Oven with lid.

0.60# Palm Sugar
0.40# Asian Black Slab Sugar
0.50# Piloncillo Sugar
1.00# Demera Sugar
(Renders 4# of syrup)

3.5 Cups water, plus 0.5 cups, plus 1.0 cups

1 t Citric Acid
1.5 t Yeast Nutrient
1.5 t Pickling Lime

The first thing you need to do is invert the sugar.  According to Nate: 
"Sucrose is not a reducing sugar, therefore it is impossible for Maillard reactions to occur with sucrose. It is impossible to have Maillard reactions with pure beet or cane sugar in its natural state. To allow the Maillard reactions to occur, one must invert the sugar from sucrose to glucose and fructose.
 Sugar can be inverted by heat or acid, or both. The rate of chemical reactions increases with temperature. While it may take several days for acid to invert sucrose at room temperature, it can happen in 30min if boiling. Once the sugar has been inverted, the sugars have become reducing sugars, which can form Maillard products."

To Invert the sugar follow the steps below:
Melt sugar in water with Citric Acid
Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes between 212*F and 222*F

After inverting the sugar Nate states "Any remaining acidity must be neutralized with a base of some kind"  This is why the Pickling Lime is added to bring the pH back up again.  The Yeast Nutrient is added to give a nitrogen source because "Maillard reactions are a complicated set of interactions between a nitrogen source and reducing sugars"

To make the Candi Syrup, follow these steps:
Add the Yeast Nutreint and Pickling Lime, and mix well.
Allow to boil and reduce, taking you to 320*F.  As the water level reduces the temperature will raise well above 212*F which is the boiling point of water.  As you progress, take samples and place them onto a sheet of wax paper.  This way you can see the colors, and take note of the flavor (after it cools, please).  I had a piece of paper that I wrote what each sample was that slid under the wax paper and gave the corresponding information (see below).
Take a sample at 225*F (about 15 minutes post invert)
Take a sample at 235*F Soft Ball (about the 30 minutes past invert mark)
Take a sample at 260*F Hard Ball (about the 40 minutes past invert mark)
Take a sample at 275*F Soft Crack (about the 45 minutes past invert mark)
Take a sample at 305*F Hard Crack (about the 50 minutes past invert mark)
Take a sample at 320*F (about the 55 minutes past invert mark)
Once you hit 320*F, turn off the heat and add the 0.5 cup of cold water to cool down some which locks the flavors **When you get ready to do this step, have your lid almost all the way over the pot, pour the water fast, and then shift the lid on all the way!  This stuff will spit and splatter, and at 300*F it will burn and not come off (and it makes a huge mess).  After the sputtering subsides (maybe 20 seconds) move the lid off and stir to incorporate the water**
Return to heat and raise to 310 (about the 60 minutes past invert mark)
Kill the heat again and add 1.0 cup of cold water which also locks the flavors and maintains a syrup form as opposed to turning into chunks of rock candi after cooling. **make sure to do the same thing with the lid for the step above!**
Take a sample of the 310 after water addition.

This is what it all looks like when you pull a sample from each step.  It is fun to let each sample cool slightly and give it a taste.  I rubbed a spoon of syrup onto wax paper with my times and temps underneath on regular paper.

Let cool slightly then put into freshly boiled mason jars or directly into the boil.  I poured into mason jars and sealed them until brewday.  On brewday I boiled my wort and then chilled it, adding the sugar in the fermentor; you could also add to the wort if you wanted a little more Maillard reaction.

Here is how my Belgian Dubbel turned out made with 1.42# of the syrup.  I used only Pils and Vienna for malts as I wanted all of the entensity to come from the sugar (no Special B or CaraMunich so I didn't have to guess where the characters came from).
Brewday, Dark Candi vs Demera
Drinking, Dark Candi vs Demera 

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