Kandake, the Queen of Beers

posted in: Drinks, Events, Recipes | 4

photo by MHT

What do figs, spice and everything malty and nice have to do with one another? They’re all ingredients of a specialty beer I helped brew this week, for Sixpoint and BeerAdvocate‘s Beer For Beasts festival. It’s an event we’ve been “brewing” up for a while, and the pieces are all coming together in the form of twenty-some unique, one-off beers that will be served for it. This is just one of those among the lineup, but an exciting one that I just had to share a homebrew recipe for. Inspired by the African title for queens, Kandake, this beer is flavored with honey, birdseye chili (or peri-peri), cardamom, cloves, Ethiopian coffee and dried figs.

This beer was the debut batch of BeerAdvocate’s events director, Candice Alstrom (whose first name is a derivative of Kandake). Each of the brewers at Sixpoint, as well as friends of the brewery, are making their own beer creations for Beer For Beasts, so it was the perfect occasion for Candice to spearhead her first batch. She’d wanted it to be a roasted dark ale with hints of spices and coffee, and going with the African theme, add a spice mixture that resembled mitmita, which has birdseye chili, cardamom and cloves. For the coffee, we ordered a sack of Ethiopian beans from our friends at Stumptown Coffee. Then, because of the culinary nature of this beer, I was asked to pick out the rest of the seasonings that we’d need for it, and hit up Kaluystan’s spice market to get the goods.

cardamom pods and cloves (photo by MHT)

If you’ve never been to this landmark two-story spice shop in the Gramercy neighborhood of Manhattan, it makes a good afternoon of shopping. I found everything that was needed, even the birdseye chili, which I was tickled to find out was another name for peri-peri (or piri-piri) chili, which is in one of my favorite hot sauces.

Turkish dried figs were found in a jar, in the store’s bulk section. Cloves and cardamom, dry goods section, check. I pored over the honey aisle and picked out two interesting types, including an Armenian mountain honey with a deep bronze hue, and someone else picked up Zambize African honey, which we ended up using instead. I couldn’t help but throw goodies unrelated to this beer into my basket as I went along, so grabbed some Korean chili flakes to make kimchi with as soon as I got home. It’s now bubbling in a jar on the counter. Perhaps the best part of the shopping trip was taking home some prepared food from the store deli upstairs. An incredibly savory, slightly smoky dip of roasted eggplant with turmeric and parsley, and a garlicky spinach with almonds made for good snacking on pita bread the next day, at the brewery.

my turn at stirring the mash (photo by MHT)

But back to the beer: with the ingredients in tow, we arrived at Sixpoint to steep it in a small batch. The Kandake beer was brewed in the smaller, homebrew-sized tanks that the brewers use for experimental batches, and those for Beer For Beasts. But in the brewery’s main tanks, a batch of “Triple Sweet Action” was being made, and we’d arrived just in time to take turns stirring the mash. Brewers Ian and Sam had already gotten started on the Kandake, boiling the grain to create a high-gravity wort. Candice had wanted this beer to be “big” to stand up to all the flavors we were putting in, so Sam picked out a mixture of grains heavy on Maris Otter barley malt. The recipe for the Kandake is below — but bear in mind, this is a brew that is still as of yet fermenting, and will only be available at Beer For Beasts. We can’t wait to try it there, too.

This is my first homebrew recipe post, and I’m sure there will be more, as I’ll be collaborating on a beer very soon for Beer For Beasts, too. Look out for that one, and the lunch that we’ll have to celebrate with afterward, on Lunch at Sixpoint in the next few weeks. This event truly is a collaboration, with friends providing food and entertainment, and coming up with all sorts of crazy things to brew, or brew with. It’s a first-time event for both Sixpoint and BeerAdvocate, too, as well as The Humane Society of New York, which all proceeds of it are going to. Why beer, and why for beasts? you might be wondering. No elaborate reason, really, except that we all love animals and pets! As did many African queens, for that matter, like Kandake.

Kandake Beer (Dark Ale with North African Spices)
homebrew recipe for 20-gallon batch
recipe by: Candice Alstrom and Sam Carroll

note: There are a ton of resources on homebrewing, which you’ll need to have a grasp of to decipher this recipe. We might recommend checking out The Complete Joy of Homebrewing, Serious Eats’ new homebrew column, or the forums at BeerAdvocate.

40 lbs Maris Otter
2.5 lbs Munich
2 lbs Crystal 85
1 lb Biscuit
1 lb Chocolate
1 lb Carafoam
.5 Lb Roasted Barley

1 oz nugget + 1 oz northern brewer @ 60 Minutes
1 0z nugget + 1 0z norther brewer @ 30 Minutes
1 oz nugget @ 10 minutes

After boil prior to cooling, steep with:

Approx 3 tablespoons whole cloves
Approx 1 oz whole cardamom pods
2 heaping tablespoons Peri Peri spice blend
1 lb figs
2 lbs Ethiopia Adodo Coffee (from Stumptown)
24 oz Zambize honey

4 Responses

  1. Julie

    Just curious about the recipe:
    1. what yeast was used for fermentation
    2. what is the base style for this beer (porter, stout, other?)
    3. how long was the steep for the herbs and spices?
    4. do you happen to know SG and FG? Or at least targets for the two?

  2. Cathy Erway

    Thanks for asking!
    1. The yeast was a blend of white labs 007 and 001 (English ale and Chico, respectively)
    2. The base style was brown ale, but came out a bit darker because of the coffee
    3. The steep was post boil and was about 10-15 minutes
    4. The SG was approximately 15.5 plato and the FG was about 3.2 plato

  3. Julie

    Awesome, and thanks for the info. Candice also supplied me with some possible recipe tweaks. I think a few of us in the Great Northern Brewers Club are going to get together and brew a batch in the near future.

  4. imgrum

    Wow! Everything sounds so new for me. Thank you for sharing the recipe!

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