Lazy Sunday Candi Wheat (X04)

2010/05/18 at 8:35 pm Leave a comment

The idea for this brew presented itself after doing some research into various brewing adjuncts- specifically Candi Sugar. After reading how simple the process is to create this adjunct I decided to drag out a sauce pot and try my hand at inverting some sucrose molecules to make some amber colored candi sugar syrup. Having achieved what appears to be a level of success the question was then raised: On what kind of beer recipe should I use this liquid buffet for yeast? After some Google-fu the answer became crystal clear: a Belgian-style wheat beer.

Since I’m also going to be very crunched for time over the next two weeks I knew I needed a brew that I could finish without too much fuss, and an extract-based wheat beer fit that bill very well. Furthermore, since I was going to have my hand on some dry malt extract I figured I’d try my hand at making a starter as well to see how this pitching method affects the brewing process. (Spoiler alert! It leads to a very active fermentation)

Making the Candi Syrup

Candi syrup is nothing more than an viscous liquid of invert sugar. What the hell is invert sugar? Well, that’s just regular table sugar (sucrose) which has been split into a mixture of its base fructose and glucose (specifically dextrose) molecules. As it turns out, inverting regular table sugar in the kitchen is quite simple. The key: cream of tartar.

For my experiment I measured out one (1.0) pound of sugar into a sauce pot and added just enough water to create a gritty viscous mass. (Trust me when I say that you don’t need a lot. You can easily dissolve 2 cups of sugar in one cup of water once heat is added, and for this experiment we will be adding a lot of heat.) Turn the heat up to about medium and add roughly one (1.0) teaspoon of the cream of tartar.

Now, continuously stir until the sugar completely melts and bring the mixture up to the range of 170°-175°F. Stir continuously for 15 minutes or until the desired color is obtained (60 minutes for my application). If the temperature climbs above 175°F add a little bit of water, but be careful since hot sugar + water = bubbling, popping, and steam. Once the desired color of the candi sugar is obtained let the temperature of the mixture rise until you reach about 300°F and pour it off into a shallow pan lined with aluminum foil.

If you’re familiar with the candy making process you’ll know that 300°F is the “hard crack” stage. This means that almost all water has been cooked out of the mixture, and once cooled the mass will set up into a hard sticky candi sugar sheet much akin to an odd-looking oversized lollipop. However, if you’re like me and want a syrup simply let the candi sugar set up and dissolve it into a shallow sauce pan with a little bit of water until a consistency of maple sugar is achieved.

What’s going on here is that the acid from the cream of tartar combined with the heat of process is serving to break down the glycosidic bond between the fructose and glucose sub-molecules. Normally the yeast will have to produce invertase in order to break this bond before beginning the actual fermentation process on the fructose and glucose carbohydrates. However, since we already did this hard work for the yeast using our large brains in conjunction with culinary sciences the little bastards can get right to the main event of producing responsible levels of ethanol.

If all this sounds like some exotic man-made chemical that has no place in the brewing process think again. If you’ve every used honey you’ve effectively used a compound that can be almost entirely classified as an inverted sugar due to its large and nearly equal amounts of fructose and glucose molecules.

Making the Yeast Starter

Making the yeast starter is not that hard and has been outlined in many brewing blogs, posts, and literature in the past. For my starter I sterilized about 0.25 gallons (4.0 cups) of water with roughly 5oz of DME. Once this mini wort cools down to yeast pitching temperature pitch the yeast into a sterilized container with the wort and top off with a sterilized airlock.

Let this newly created biological habitat sit and grown over the course of 24 to 72 hours and… voila! A healthy yeast starter ready for pitching into a fermenter full of anxiously waiting wort.

Making The Beer

This recipe for this beer is very similar to that of the Honey Bunny Sweet Wheat with only the process and a few ingredients changing to create what is hopefully a much more enjoyable end product. Therefore, with such easy directions to follow this recipe has been dubbed the Lazy Sunday Candi Wheat.

The long and short of the brewing process is boil 5.0 gallons of water and add the 6.0 pounds of wheat dry malt extract and 1.0 oz of Willamette hops. Return to a boil and let cook for 60 minutes. 5 minutes before flameout add the 1.0 pounds of candi sugar for extra alcohol content and Saaz hops for aromatics. Crash cool to a pitchable temperature and add the yeast starter.

Now, due to certain restrictions (no worth chiller, lack of necessary ice reserves, and an unexpected leak in the sink) I was not able to get the wort down to a pitchable temperature before moving the mixture to the primary fermenter. My temperature gauge read 34°C (93.2°F) which was much more than the recommended
maximum pitching temperature of 24°C (75.2°F). With no other course of action I siphoned the wort into the fermenter, sealed up the top, and topped off the airlock and left the vessel to cool over night. As it turns out this is a brewing method which is steadily gaining popularity known as No Chill Method. However, if I choose to utilize this method again in the future I will need to make adjustments due to the increased bittering from extra heat exposure to the aromatic Saaz hops.

Within hours of pitching the starter into the wort activity in the airlock began to bubble away. Eventually activity increased in magnitude and frequency until it reached the level of a dull roar by that night, and although the fermentation has tapered off it is still audible on a regular basis. This can be seen in the current specific gravity readings having dropped 44 points in only two days! If this healthy activity can be attributed to the addition of the candi sugar or the yeast starter remains to be seen.

You could say this effort is more a conglomeration of test efforts just to “see what happens”. While the end result may or may not turn out to be better than its predecessor the real learning experience for this experiment is the process itself.

Date Specific Gravity
5/16 1060
5/18 1016
5/21 1014
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