The Wyeast strains are also very good. The Wyeast White is an excellent choice for strong ales as well as whites (with a Celis Grand Cru-type flavor), and the Wyeast Belgian produces an authentic Chimay-type flavor when fermented very cool (at 60F or less). Ferment warmer with this yeast and you're asking for headaches and a Chiquita banana in your beer.
The blond sugar adds no color that I can tell, and the dark stuff--at least the stuff from the Belgian supermarkets--doesn't have a very pronounced coloring capacity either. From personal experiece I'd say it's about 20 lovibond.
So after have brewed many batches with the stuff and having sent other brewers sugar samples too (in exchange for samples of the finished product), I can also fairly say that candy sugar is basically just sugar. If you can find it, great, you'll have some fun. If you can't, or don't want to pay for it, corn sugar will do just fine.
However, sugar does play an essential role in Belgian brewing. It allows you to brew strong beers without the heavy, full body typical of barley wines. Depending one the style you're brewing, you can use at least a pound of sugar per 5 gallons for beers of 1.060 and up. For triples you may want to go substantially higher than that.
For all-grain brewers, brewing with sugar lets you increase your original gravities without increasing your mashing and lautering capacity. My zapap lauter tun maxes out at about 15 lbs of grain, but by adding sugar to the kettle I can increase either the gravity or the quantity of the finished wort.
If you're using coriander in a strong ale, you're probably trying to add a relatively subtle extra flavor. Half an ounce works well for five gallons, added for the last five minutes of the boil. If you want BIG coriander flavor and aroma, particularly for white beers, use an ounce.
Boiling your coriander too long (over 15 minutes) or grinding it too coarsely will result in lessened flavor and aroma.
Usually bitter orange is used in white beers. According to the instructions I received from a Belgian brewer, start with 0.5 grams per liter of finished beer (about a third of an ounce for 5 gallons). If you want more, some people go up to a full gram per liter. I usually boil the peels for about twenty minutes.
One drawback of high quantities of bitter orange peel (and of using even low levels of regular supermarket orange peel) is that you get a rather peculiar ham-like aroma that may or may not go away with age. Try boiling some supermarket dried orange peel in a small pot of water and you'll see what I mean.
Look for the French aperitif made from bitter orange; I believe it's called St. Raphael.
Unfortunately, at the moment this ingredient is not available in the U.S. I believe several people are trying to bring some over, and I hope everyone out there will feel free to bug their local homebrew sources! As far as I'm concerned this is the last important Belgian brewing ingredient that's not available to homebrewers here in America. In the meantime, it's possible that tangerine peel may provide a vague substitute.
Your local homebrew store The Yeast Culture Kit Co. 1308 W. Madison Ann Arbor, MI 48103 800-752-2110 313-761-5914 DANIEL.F.MCCONNELL@MED.UMICH.EDU Brewers Resource 409 Calle San Pablo #104 Camarillo, CA 93012 (800) 827-3983 Advanced Brewers Scientific 3034 SE 20th Ave. Portland, OR 97202 (503) 234-7503 GUMMITCH@TELEPORT.COM Head Start Brewing Cultures 921 Bill Smith Road Cookeville, TN 38501 (615) 372-8511 BAN5845@TNTECH.EDU Scientific Service 7407 Hummingbird Hill San Antonio, TX 78255 (210) 695-2547
The Frozen Wort P.O. Box 988 Greenfield, MA 01302 (413) 773-5920This is the only source I'm aware of for the peels, and the prices (at least when I last saw them) were quite reasonable. Don't forget to ask them to stock sweet peels as well!
Home Sweet Homebrew 2008 Sansom Street Philadelphia, PA 19103 (215) 569-9469 The Decorette Shop 5338 SE Foster Road Portland, OR [don't have the zip] (503) 774-3760These people sell blond rock candy in 5 lb quantities, with the strings.
As stated above, I have no business relationship with any of these vendors other than being an occasional client of some of them. Several of the yeast suppliers carry strains supplied by me, for which I receive no commission, payment, consideration, appreciation, adoration, or what have you.
Well, that winds up this series folks. I hope this helps some of you on your way to Belgian homebrew nirvana. If you find it, don't forget to invite me!