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Mike T
12/28/06 10:27 AM  
Belgian Sugar Experiment (Results)
Belgian Sugar Experiment, the interview

Or listen to me have fun drinking

Pitcture of the beers www.basicbrewing.com/radio/images/belgianexperiment-lg.jpg

About five months back I made 6 gallons of base beer (Mostly Pils with Vienna, aromatic, maris otter, cane sugar, hallertau and fermented with WL 530), split it among 6 carboys and added 3.25 oz (equal to about 1 lb in a 5 gallon batch) of a different sugar to each one. OG was around 1.059 for all of them and all but one finished between 1.008-1.009.

Last week James from Basic Brewing Radio was kind enough to have me on to sample and talk about the results. Iím no sugar expert, but I think the results ended up being really interesting and have certainly changed the way I look at sugar. It's the latest podcast posted on www.basicbrewing.com/radio/

For anyone too lazy (or busy) to listen to me drink for an hour, here is the general consensus on each batch:


White: Fermented hotter than the rest, ended up tasting a bit cidery and hot.

Amber Rocks: A hint of caramelized sugar character, a solid beer Iíd call it a big Single. This was also the hardest sugar to work with because it needed to be boiled for a long time to get it to dissolve.

Dark Candi Syrup: The all around winner in my book, classic Belgain Dubbel flavors. Despite having the same finishing gravity it tasted sweeter and fuller than the rest.

Soft Candi: Midway between the Amber and the Dark, some decent Belgian caramel flavors, but nothing to make it stand out.

Muscovado: Rummy, not as much color as I expected from such a dark unrefined sugar. Much less complex than Belgian sugars, but I think it would make a good compliment.

Caramel (Karo + DAP ala BLAM): Although the sugar was basically unfermentable (FG 1.019), the beer was still really tasty with plenty of interesting caramel flavors. Iíve been adding a couple of ounces of this sugar to Belgians I have been doing recently. (Just confirmed by hiddendragonet)


Iíll certainly do another round of this at some point (maybe an English beer version), there are still so many sugars I want to play with. (more caramels, date sugar, maple syrup, Lyleís golden syrup, treacle, gur etcÖ)

Dave I
12/28/06 11:34 AM  
Re: Belgian Sugar Experiment (Results)
Hey Mike (or should I call you Oldsock?). I just read this on NB. Pretty cool experiment! Thank you for sharing the results. Sounds like some pretty convincing support for using the Belgian Dark Candi Syrup. I am kind of surprised that the home-caramemlized sugar was so unfermentable.

Nice job all around. Thanks for sharing your results.


Mike T
12/28/06 11:51 AM  
Re: Belgian Sugar Experiment (Results)
Thanks Dave. I just decided to throw it up everywhere, Iím never clear how many people post/lurk on multiple forums and how many are monogamous.

Mike/Oldsock (Either way, Iím not picky)

Dave I
12/28/06 12:19 PM  
Re: Belgian Sugar Experiment (Results)
"I just decided to throw it up everywhere, Iím never clear how many people post/lurk on multiple forums and how many are monogamous."

Yeah, I get around. ;) (My wife is going to punch me in the arm if she reads this.) Back to the beer-stuff, I think it is cool and a good idea to post it everywhere, and I only read a few brewery forums so I am glad I saw it on one that I go to. It is definitely a hot topic whenever and wherever the topic of sugars come up in brewing, so I think it is relevant to any brew board, aside from a Reinheitsgebot-strict one perhaps. It is particularly pertinent to Belgian beers, perhaps English brews as well.

I would love to see you do more. I have not experimented with sugar a lot, just white, brown, and dark candi syrup, so I love these compare-contrast experiments that at least give me an educated guess on where to start my own experiments in brewing.


12/28/06 08:13 PM  
Re: Belgian Sugar Experiment (Results)
Mike, great info - thanks a million for posting it. I've never done a side by side like this but in general my findings are very much in line with yours. Steve
01/01/07 02:44 PM  
Re: Belgian Sugar Experiment (Results)
Nice job! Good info!
12/06/07 12:02 AM  
Re: Belgian Sugar Experiment (Results)
I recently did a small experiment (1 gallon) using honey as the sugar source for the DAP caramelization technique from BLAM. It fermented to dryness(<1.00)! I expected to see the 10 gravity points from the added caramel left over after fermentation. I can't imagine why honey would react any differently with DAP than karo syrup would. Does anyone have any insight into this?
Mike T
12/06/07 08:53 AM  
Re: Belgian Sugar Experiment (Results)
I do (I think) it turns out that Karo is pretty much unfermentable in its normal state. To the syrup to be super syrup-y they add plenty of unfermentable dextrins. Note the label: www.karosyrup.com/nutrition.asp 31 g of carbs, 10 g of sugar (so 21 grams of non-sugar carbs). The original caramel recipe may have intended that we use pure glucose corn syrup.

How does the DAP caramelized honey taste?

Speaking of this experiment, this Saturday I am running a double blind tasting for a few friends. I have a bomber of each of my 11 single sugar batches, it will be really interesting to see what wins. The only drawback is that one set of samples is 16 months old and one is 4 months old.

The second batch includes, Agave, Homemade Candi Syrup (Sucrose + water held around 285 for 3 hours), Gur, Lyle's Golden Syrup, and Granulated Date Sugar

More details:


12/06/07 10:07 PM  
Re: Belgian Sugar Experiment (Results)
<<I am running a double blind tasting >> -Mike T

You didn't tell us it was going to be double blind! LOL, this made me laugh in a good way Mike. You really do rock! That's the best way to do it, but I wasn't expecting it. I also didn't realize we'd be tasting your last experiment as well. Really looking forward to it, thanks for letting me be a part of it.

Mike T
12/07/07 08:31 AM  
Re: Belgian Sugar Experiment (Results)
Yep, the last bottle of each of the first 6. Iím really excited to see how they age as I finished off the second to last bottle of each about a year ago. Iíll also be interested to see if people (including me) can separate the two batches, or identify the different sugars.

Double blind is pretty easy, I just put numbered stickers over all the labeled caps, once we are done we can just peel the stickers off to reveal the identity of each sample.

12/07/07 03:28 PM  
Re: Belgian Sugar Experiment (Results)
"How does the DAP caramelized honey taste?" - Mike T

It tasted great before I fermented it! It only added 10 gravity point to the one gallon of cider I fermented, and after it went totally dry the taste was not so great. Like caramel without any sweetness - I don't know how to explain it. The malic acid-sans-sugar contributed to the off flavor as well, I'm sure. Anyway, I think the DAP caramelized honey would be great in a belgianish ale as there would be more of a balance in the final product. It was easy-peasy to make, too, and took less than 15 minutes. I may make some more just to eat it:-)

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