Friday, December 8, 2017

NEIPA: Spelt and Age Old Brewing Candi Sugar

Remember back in late 2015/early 2016 when the internet was all "Ewww gross, why is that IPA so murky" and some of us were all "Stop being so butthurt, its good AF"? Well, those days are long gone, now hazy/murky beer is the norm more than I think anyone could have imagined. Of course not every brewery in the world is brewing NEIPA, but its so widely available that it seems like everyone is, at least around me anyway. But now that so many breweries are doing it and doing it well that its difficult to stand out within the style. You could go the Milkshake/Lactose/Fruit route, the Oat Milk route, or whatever your little heart desires. Or you could just brew beers like HopWards and sate your (well actually my) desires for aromatic drinkable beers, I don't even care what you do, really.

Candi makes you dandy.
A while back Jesse from Age Old Brewing Candi reached out to me about trying out some of his hand made Candi sugar, how could I say no? He sent me a couple samples he had including his Grapefruit candy sugar which I thought would be a perfect match in NEIPA and fit the mold for some variation on the style. I realize this isn't a super exotic experimental beer but I like simplicity, and some subtle variation here and there. 

Jesse infuses his candi sugars with various fruits and spices, all done by hand, by him, seemingly in the Appalachian mountains? I don't know, but that's what it looks like to me. Candi sugar made by hand by a mountain man.I tasted the grapefruit sugar before brewing with it and can confirm this is high quality, flavorful stuff. 

I went with a grist of Pale Malt and Spelt, since I had some Bob's Red Mill Rolled Spelt on hand, in an 80/20 ratio. Jesse told me all his products are 100% fermentable so I wanted to be sure that the candi sugar would dry, or thin the beer out too much. Though %20 Spelt is a fair bit, I bumped the mash temp up to 156F in hopes of combating that further. Other than that all things were pretty standard on this one, so I'll keep the ramblings short and sweet. I added the candi sugar at flameout, added an offensive amount of hops in the whirlpool and dry hop and then drank the hell out of the keg. Below are some rambling tasting notes for "Arsenal Fan On a String", with the recipe below.

Arsenal Fan On a String:

Its hazy, its yellow, has a white head, yadda yadda yadda, I drank it all.

As you can see its your classic straw yellow, hazy, mess of a beer. Wispy, soapy, bright white head that lingers throughout with lacing on the glass reminiscent of sea foam at the Jersey shore, minus the sewage. Aromatics are much lighter than normal, but the grapefruit comes through really well. Its not a smack you in the face hop aroma but a nice solid blend of the Grapefruit and some subtle lemon, mango things bouncing about.

First sip of a glass of this you get that unmistakable nutty spelt character that's then smacked away by light hop bitterness. The body is a little thinner than I would have liked, but that results in a super quick beer that's shoots across your tongue super quick. Once again the hop character is light but the grapefruit notes I got from tasting the candi sugar carries through, its subtle but adds to the complexity.

Overall this beer drinks good, but something weird happened to all that late and dry hop character. In a way thats a good thing, because the candi sugar is more prominent as opposed to a supporting note. But I wanted something bigger on the hops with an underlying grapefruit candi sugar background. I think with the beer drying out as much as it did things really thinned out a little more than I wanted, or expected. Maybe the mash temp was off or I need to bump up the Spelt for any subsequent batches.

However, I think if I used flaked oats, an ingredient that I would normally use in a beer like this, I could have combatted that a little easier. Or at least it would have been a better test for the candi sugar being that I am very familiar with that 80/20 Pale Malt/Oats grist. All that said, this beer was quite good, and was one I was able to slam back 3-4 without blinking. A highly drinkable beer, something which I am always looking for and happily would have on tap again. I am excited to use more of Jesse's candi sugars, possibly in some small experimental batches at Kelly Green Brewing Co.

Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 7.00 gal
Post Boil Volume: 6.25 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 6.00 gal
Bottling Volume: 5.00 gal
Measured OG: 1.058 SG
Measured FG: 1.008 SG
ABV: 6.6%
Estimated IBU: 37.5 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

80.0% - 10lbs CMC Pale Malt
20.0% - 2lbs 8oz - Bob's Red Mill Spelt
1Lb - Grapefruit Candi Sugar at flameout.

First Wort Hop - 0.25 oz CTZ [16.00 %] -  13 IBUs
Boil: 15min - 1 Whirlfloc Tablet + 1 tsp Wyeast Yeast Nutrient
Boil:  5min - 1.00 oz Cascade 
Boil:  5min - 1.00 oz Centennial 
Boil:  5min - 1.00 oz Simcoe  
20 Minute Whirlpool 185f - 2.00 oz Cascade 
20 Minute Whirlpool 185f - 2.00 oz Centennial 
20 Minute Whirlpool 185f - 2.00 oz Simcoe 
Dry Hop:  2.00 oz Cascade
Dry Hop:  2.00 oz Centennial 
Dry Hop:  2.00 oz Simcoe

*Dry hops were split evenly into two additions, half in primary during fermentation and half in a dry hop keg*


Mash: Full volume BIAB
Sacch rest - 60 min @ 156.0 F 

Misc: 30 seconds of pure O2. Cherry Hill, NJ Tap water. Mash pH 5.32, Water Profile ~2:1 Chloride:Sulfate ( 132ppm Ca, 19ppm Mg, 7ppm Na, 147ppm Cl, 74ppm SO4). Some Lactic acid was used to lower the mash pH, your water profile may vary.

Notes: Fermentation temp was 65f for 6 days then bumped to 70f for another 5 days, on the 3rd day of active fermentation half of the dry hops were added directly to primary, the other half was added in a dry hop keg on the 11th day. Tapped 18 days from brewday.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Thats a typo from me scaling down the recipe in Beersmith. These are always 10g batches and when I scale down in Beersmith it spit out some weird numbers. I updated it. Youre totally right though.

  2. Hey Ed,

    I know you're a big fan of 1318, have you had any issues with this yeast of late? I've brewed with this yeast for years (about 12-15 batches) and always had great success with it. However, the last two times I attempted to use it it turned into a phenolic mess of a beer and both were drain pours. Kept my process the same, starter on a stir plate, proper temp, etc. and haven't found anyone having the same issue that I've had. Both beers (hoppy pale ales) from separate smack packs turned out the same super phenolic undrinkable beer. I was just curious if you've had a similar experience or heard of anything like this. Anyway, great blog and keep up the good work. Thanks.


    1. Hey Ryan, thats a bummer. I've never had that issue with 1318, but I have had it with Conan (thats going back 4+ years though) and was the reason I abandoned the strain. Any chance its an issue with equipment on the cold side? Im sure youve considered all that since it sounds like your process is dialed in. You've brewed "clean" beers in between these beers? Maybe buy a new fermenter (cheap bucket/carboy) to isolate the issue, or even split a batch with US05 or something.

    2. Yes I made 3 clean beers in btwn with the same equipment with no issue. Very strange, never had anything like this happen to me in the 10+ years I've been brewing. I can usually pinpoint something when a batch doesn't work out but this one has me stumped. If it happened once I'd say ok we'll get em next time but two times with the same exact issue has me thinking its more than just a coincidence. Oh well, shit happens right? Thanks for the quick reply.

    3. Maybe try Juice from Imperial Organic next, Ive been using it recently and if its not 1318 its nearly identical. Maybe you will have better luck. Sorry to hear about the issues, always a bummer when you do everything right but the microbes fail you. No matter how long we've been brewing there's always possibility for issues. Let me know how it goes.