Good Base for Honey Beer?

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chivelegs

Good Base for Honey Beer?

Post by chivelegs » Mon May 09, 2016 5:24 pm

My missus is a bee-keeper and we recently found a large stash of honey sitting in our cellar that we forgot about.
Has anyone made a successful honey beer, and if so what base did you use? I'm guessing a simple low IBU pale, but open to suggestion.
I'm also looking to use the same base for some fruit beer experiment, so if it can adapt to be used with an interesting Belgian yeast, that would be even better.

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Re: Good Base for Honey Beer?

Post by simon12 » Mon May 09, 2016 5:36 pm

I made a bad honey beer and what I learn't was the honey not only ferments out all the sugar in itself but also causes the yeast to eat more of the sugar from the grain leaving the beer really dry. So I suggest mashing at a very high temp using alot of crystal malt and using at least 2 parts grain to 1 part honey (I used half and half 2.5Kg each and it finished 1.002). You can see my full experience with it here viewtopic.php?f=5&t=73102

chivelegs

Re: Good Base for Honey Beer?

Post by chivelegs » Mon May 09, 2016 5:40 pm

Hmm, thanks for that. I'll investigate further but the idea of 20% honey looks better.

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Re: Good Base for Honey Beer?

Post by MTW » Mon May 09, 2016 5:42 pm

I've done a honey porter, with local heather honey. Heather honey was a very strong flavour indeed (even in a porter), and I would probably use something else next time. It actually overpowered the beer.

The difficulty with honey, is that the enzymes (?) present (in unpasteurised honey) can keep eating through the wort very slowly, but persistently, beyond what we may think is the FG, providing further sugar the yeast can get into. I heat treated mine, in accordance with one article I saw, to try to 'mash out' the enzymes, holding it around 80C for 2 hours in an oven, before adding it towards the end of fermentation. Even still, I have overcarbonated bottles months on, despite a stable gravity reading by usual standards. My method was clearly not perfect, and I'd be tempted just to stick the next lot in the boil, as many do, though some complain that much of the honey aroma disappears that way.

So a paler beer and honey at the very end of the boil for me next time, avoiding heather honey. :roll:

..and yes. It can dry the beer out, so plenty of cara or something and mash high: I agree.
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Re: Good Base for Honey Beer?

Post by McMullan » Mon May 09, 2016 7:37 pm

That's interesting to know, MTW. I've got 2kg of heather honey. The plan is to dilute it to a 'beer' SG and ferment using a lager yeast, kind of a Gosnells 'mead'. I've been considering the heat treatment you describe. Now I'm thinking I should finish prepping the diluted honey with a decent boil.

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Re: Good Base for Honey Beer?

Post by MTW » Mon May 09, 2016 8:46 pm

Interesting idea.

I stuck a pound of it in a 22L or so brew, and as I say, it's too much for me in the porter. If I were doing it again with the same stuff and brew, I guess I'd half that and stick it in the last 5 mins of the boil, as a punt.
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Re: Good Base for Honey Beer?

Post by BrannigansLove » Mon May 09, 2016 10:23 pm

I used orange blossom honey in a saison. It was a good beer, but you couldn't really taste the honey.

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Re: Good Base for Honey Beer?

Post by JackF » Tue May 10, 2016 8:17 am

As for a base, I have used a dark beer (admittedly from a kit - Abtij from Brewferm to be exact) and replaced 1/3 of the recommended sugar with forest honey. It was very good!
As a meadmaker, I can definitely NOT recommend chestnut blossom honey. And my experience with orange blossom honey matches yours. The flavour does not stick, and the stuff is really expensive!
Forest honey is definitely my preference for alcoholic beverages.

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Re: Good Base for Honey Beer?

Post by simon12 » Wed May 11, 2016 10:01 am

McMullan wrote:That's interesting to know, MTW. I've got 2kg of heather honey. The plan is to dilute it to a 'beer' SG and ferment using a lager yeast, kind of a Gosnells 'mead'. I've been considering the heat treatment you describe. Now I'm thinking I should finish prepping the diluted honey with a decent boil.
I read before my experiment that boiling honey looses its flavour, I can't confirm it but I read it from a few sources.

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Re: Good Base for Honey Beer?

Post by McMullan » Wed May 11, 2016 2:34 pm

simon12 wrote:
McMullan wrote:That's interesting to know, MTW. I've got 2kg of heather honey. The plan is to dilute it to a 'beer' SG and ferment using a lager yeast, kind of a Gosnells 'mead'. I've been considering the heat treatment you describe. Now I'm thinking I should finish prepping the diluted honey with a decent boil.
I read before my experiment that boiling honey looses its flavour, I can't confirm it but I read it from a few sources.
Yes, I've read the same, mate. I think the lower temperature heat treatment MTW notes might help dramatically reduce the wild yeast population to favour the pitched lager yeast. Having read a clinical paper on the successful treatment of unsterilised honey on some pretty nasties wounds, I'm now thinking about just diluting it with sterile water, aerating then pitching a decent starter. Also the enzymes in honey noted for converting more fermentables post bottling might be denatured by pasteurisation? Apparently Clostridium botulinum spores are often found in honey, but the low pH and subsequent alcohol production deal with that. Hope so anyway. If I don't report back, assume the worst.

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Re: Good Base for Honey Beer?

Post by demig » Wed May 11, 2016 11:39 pm

McMullan wrote:
simon12 wrote:
McMullan wrote:That's interesting to know, MTW. I've got 2kg of heather honey. The plan is to dilute it to a 'beer' SG and ferment using a lager yeast, kind of a Gosnells 'mead'. I've been considering the heat treatment you describe. Now I'm thinking I should finish prepping the diluted honey with a decent boil.
I read before my experiment that boiling honey looses its flavour, I can't confirm it but I read it from a few sources.
Yes, I've read the same, mate. I think the lower temperature heat treatment MTW notes might help dramatically reduce the wild yeast population to favour the pitched lager yeast. Having read a clinical paper on the successful treatment of unsterilised honey on some pretty nasties wounds, I'm now thinking about just diluting it with sterile water, aerating then pitching a decent starter. Also the enzymes in honey noted for converting more fermentables post bottling might be denatured by pasteurisation? Apparently Clostridium botulinum spores are often found in honey, but the low pH and subsequent alcohol production deal with that. Hope so anyway. If I don't report back, assume the worst.
The botulism thing is why honey is often labelled as not save for children under one who shouldn't be eating such sweet stuff anyway IMHO. In any case it's very rare certainly in the UK, more an American thing if my beekeeping cronies are correct. Heating above 40 will start to ruin your honey, that's why a lot of the cheap supermarket stuff just tastes sweet and nothing like proper honey from your local friendly beekeeper :-) Beekeepers making mead don't tend to heat it but use it as is, often just washing excess honey of the wax cappings cut off the comb when extracting honey and using that water.

Not get round to using my honey for brewing yet but certainly won't heat it. Possibly might use pet bottles just in case it goes on a bit too far in the bottle just to be safe, that might be an idea.

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Re: Good Base for Honey Beer?

Post by fego » Thu May 12, 2016 8:45 am

The only ways I've successfully got a truly honey flavoured beer is either by adding the honey to the glass when serving (which is messy) or using as a primer in bottles. The latter works well but I struggle to find the right balance because although the flavour is spot on, the bottles are often over primed requiring a wet glass.

I won't bother putting honey in the boil or primary ever again because the end effect is so trivial as to not justify the waste of honey.

I did hear someone using a particular hop that gives a honey flavour but I haven't tried that and can't remember what hop it is either, but that might be worth looking into to enhance the real stuff.
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Re: Good Base for Honey Beer?

Post by PhilB » Thu May 12, 2016 2:12 pm

Hi fego and Chivelegs
fego wrote:I did hear someone using a particular hop that gives a honey flavour but I haven't tried that and can't remember what hop it is either, but that might be worth looking into to enhance the real stuff.
... I'm pretty sure the hop to use is Target, late in the boil ... ideally used with Goldings (or something noble), Fullers use it like that in Bengal Lancer, and that has quite a honey-ish taste ... but then, of course, they also pair it with their yeast (available as WLP002/Wy1968) which throws honey-ish flavours too :?

I'm pretty sure that Fullers used to do all of that, and add a load of (organic) honey, into their Honey Dew beer, back when it was a seasonal ale, available on cask ... and it used to taste really quite a lot of honey then ... but now that they've re-branded that as an all-year round organic, keg, lager alternative, I'm not sure that it tastes of anything, any more, just cold and wet :?

Cheers, PhilB

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Re: Good Base for Honey Beer?

Post by f00b4r » Thu May 12, 2016 4:50 pm

There is also Gambrinus honey malt, which will apparently truly give a honey taste, but it isn't available in this country (a HBS in Bury St Edmunds claims to sell it but it is actually melanoiden they sell). I have some but haven't tried it yet as I need to order a mill (it didn't make sense to get it crushed with the postage and amount I ordered to my wife's hotel when she was in NYC the other week). Well definitely report back though when Demig and I try it in a beer though (meant to be good in an APA).

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Re: Good Base for Honey Beer?

Post by demig » Thu May 12, 2016 5:28 pm

f00b4r wrote:There is also Gambrinus honey malt, which will apparently truly give a honey taste, but it isn't available in this country (a HBS in Bury St Edmunds claims to sell it but it is actually melanoiden they sell). I have some but haven't tried it yet as I need to order a mill (it didn't make sense to get it crushed with the postage and amount I ordered to my wife's hotel when she was in NYC the other week). Well definitely report back though when Demig and I try it in a beer though (meant to be good in an APA).
Just thinking aloud here but we could do one with honey malt and one with some of my honey in it and see how it compares. That would be an interesting experiment. Honey versus honey malt

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