Brewer Nick Hempfer Gets Acquainted With Belgian Candi Syrup
Every few months, a Summit Brewer gets a crack at crafting a unique, one-off beer all by their lonesome. No rules, no budgets, no outside influences. These beers, which are known as the Summit Unchained Series, celebrate our brewers’ skill and creativity. Brewer Nick Hempfer brewed his first Unchained beer in 2015 — an ESB made with Earl Grey tea — and ever since he’s been eager to tackle another.
While developing Summit Unchained 26: Westie 7th, a Belgian-Style Dark Ale whose name is a nod to our St. Paul brewery’s neighborhood, Hempfer discovered the delicious world of Belgian candi syrups — an ingredient often used by Belgian brewers to increase the fermentable sugar in their beers.
Sweet, Sweet Candi
In addition to boosting a beer’s booze content, Belgian candi syrups also offer complex flavor profiles. Sacrificing his blood sugar, Hempfer sampled seven varieties before landing on a dark candi syrup with rich notes of dark fruit, dark caramel, and — lucky us — rum. A blend of specialty malts supports and highlights these flavors, while subtle, noble-type hops lie back and let the candi syrup shine. Finished with a Trappist-Style Ale yeast, you can expect traces of fig and raisin to round out the beer.
Pouring rich mahogany in color, Westie 7th represents a style that, years ago, caught Hempfer by surprise. “During my early craft-beer drinking days,” Hempfer says, “my exposure to Belgian beers was limited to brews with overwhelming banana and clove profiles — flavors I personally don’t enjoy.” Later on, however, a friend poured Hempfer a rich quadrupel, surprising him with raisin, caramel, and fig flavors. “I was hooked,” says Hempfer, “and I have since sought out these rare, seemingly mythological beers brewed in monasteries.”
The First Taste
If you, too, have been searching for a Belgian Whale, you’re in luck. Summit Unchained 26: Westie 7th will debut at the Summit Beer Hall on Thursday, October 26, with a Halloween Dance Party featuring DJ Barb Abney.
Westie 7th will hit draft lines and 6-packs of 12-oz. cans in late October, only for a limited time.
Summit Unchained 26: Westie 7th
Color: Rich Mahogany (40º L)
Malts: Pale, Moravian 37, Simpsons DRC, Weyermann CaraAroma, Weyermann Melanoidin
Hops: Hallertau Mittlefruh, Saaz
Kettle Additions: Belgian candi syrup
Yeast: Trappist-Style Ale yeast
Serving Tips: Serve at 55–60ºF in a snifter glass. Pair with roasted meats, pork loin, ribs, brisket, charcuterie, cheese, baked brie with figs, or crème brulee.
About the Summit Unchained Series
Launched in 2009, the rotating Unchained Series allows Summit brewers to explore their craft and pretty much brew whatever the heck they want. “We’re fortunate to have phenomenal brewers at Summit,” says Mark Stutrud, founder and president of Summit Brewing Company. “The Unchained Series allows them to showcase their artistry. There are no budgetary restraints, no outside influences from a sales team, and the brewers are free to collect ingredients from anywhere in the world. As long as it’s legal, they have complete autonomy.”