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Honey As A Fermentable

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SpaceMonkey

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I'm after a little advice on the use of honey as a substitute for sugar/dextrose, mainly with the idea of using it in ginger beer/cider. According to the info on the packaging honey is around 80% sugar, does this meanthat I should expect a similar ABV from 1kg honey as 800g of dextrose? Also do the sugars in honey ferment out completely in a predictable timeframe? Will the remainder of the honey impart much of a honey flavour to the brew? And finally whats the best way to add it so as to maximise the honey flavour and minimising any infection risk?
 

Darren

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SpaceMonkey said:
I'm after a little advice on the use of honey as a substitute for sugar/dextrose, mainly with the idea of using it in ginger beer/cider. According to the info on the packaging honey is around 80% sugar, does this meanthat I should expect a similar ABV from 1kg honey as 800g of dextrose? Also do the sugars in honey ferment out completely in a predictable timeframe? Will the remainder of the honey impart much of a honey flavour to the brew? And finally whats the best way to add it so as to maximise the honey flavour and minimising any infection risk?
[post="72224"][/post]​
Ditto
 

barls

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it ferments really well and does leave a flavour after its finished depending on the type of honey used. i did a yellowbox honey lager a while ago and after a little while the harshness smoothed itself out. i used 500g of honey and 500g of body brew in it. also have a strawberry clover honey blonde ccing at the moment. id recommend a light flavour honey like the strawberry clover or orange blossom for a ginger beer
 

GMK

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I have used honey in brewing Mead, Beer and in Cider.

Here are some tips:
- depending on the honey - fresh is best.
If you boil the honey u get rid of good and bad stuff. If there is a lot of wax in the honey - then you need to boil - try to boil for no longer than 20mins and skim the wax off.
Alternative is to heat it upto around 80C for around 20mins - this should sanitise it - better with homey that has no wax.
There will be some unfermemntables left behind. The stronger the honey - eg Leatherwood/bluegum the better the honey flavour.
Use the honey in wheat beers/blondes/pales to allow the honey to come thru....use really strong honey in porters.

U can add the honey in the last 20 mins of boil if u want to skim - or heat to 80C and add straight to fermenter.

Hope this helps you out.
 

Airgead

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SpaceMonkey said:
I'm after a little advice on the use of honey as a substitute for sugar/dextrose, mainly with the idea of using it in ginger beer/cider. According to the info on the packaging honey is around 80% sugar, does this meanthat I should expect a similar ABV from 1kg honey as 800g of dextrose? Also do the sugars in honey ferment out completely in a predictable timeframe? Will the remainder of the honey impart much of a honey flavour to the brew? And finally whats the best way to add it so as to maximise the honey flavour and minimising any infection risk?
[post="72224"][/post]​
Honey is about 80% sugar the rest water. The potential is the same as very strong sugar solution so slightly less than dry sugar. Its about the same as the diference between liquid and dry malt extract.

Honey will verment out completely. A brew made with all honey will come out with a gravity of 1 (or just under 1 as ethanol is lower in SG than water) it will not leave any unfermentables behind like malt does.

Unfortunately, the timeframe is not really predictable. It has been my experience that honey will ferment very quickly at first and then just mooch along really slowly for a long time as the yeast slowly digest the less digestable sugars. I have had honey brews take 3 months to stop fermenting.

I find just adding it in the lat 2 mins of the boil is enough to sanitise it without losing the honey flavour/aroma. if you boil it for too long it will lose all its character.

Honey can also taste very harsh and unbalanced at first and can take quite a while to age out. I usually leave honey brews in the bottle a month at least before drinking.

My advice - if you want a significant aroma/flavour, use the darkest honey you can find (I used ironbark last time.. its lovely). Be prepared to wait for it to age.

Cheers
Dave
 

SpaceMonkey

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Thanksd Airgead. My local HBS told me the same thing about the unpredictable timeframe. does this cause much of a problem with bottle bombs/overpriming in your experience? I'm happy to let the stufff age, I just don't want it to explode while it's aging!! Id there a predictable point where the fermentation is generally mostly complete and it's safe to bottle?
 

Airgead

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SpaceMonkey said:
Thanksd Airgead. My local HBS told me the same thing about the unpredictable timeframe. does this cause much of a problem with bottle bombs/overpriming in your experience? I'm happy to let the stufff age, I just don't want it to explode while it's aging!! Id there a predictable point where the fermentation is generally mostly complete and it's safe to bottle?
[post="72349"][/post]​
Thats a hard one. I haven't had problems with bottle bombs but mostly bwecause I am paranoid and tend to leave anything with honey in it for several weeks after it looks like it has finished just to be sure. I usually check gravity twice a week and make sure it is stable over at least 2 weeks.

I did have one batch of mead that caught me. It was one of my early ones and after no activity I bottled and corked. It was dead flat when I bottled but after 6 months in the bottle it had gassed up to the point where it popped one of the corks out with enough force that it flew across the room and hit my brother in law on the ear. Fortunately he was more upset about the alcohol spilling on the floor from the uncorked bottle than he was about the pain in his ear. He valiantly lept across the room, clamped his lips on the bottle and drained the lot.

I spent the afternoon chilling and VERY carefully de-corking the remaining bottles to let the pressure out. Let it stand for a few days to de-gas then re-corked.

Haven't been caught since but it did teach me to be paranoid.

Cheers
Dave
 

barls

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i tend to cc my honey beers for at least a month before bottling and i havent had a bottle explode in 3 years
 

SpaceMonkey

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Ok no dramas, looks like leaving it for a few weeks to ferment right outbefore bottling will be the go then.
 

Jaeger

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My advice - if you want a significant aroma/flavour, use the darkest honey you can find (I used ironbark last time.. its lovely). Be prepared to wait for it to age.
(Catching up on an old thread...)

My first brew was a honey porter based on a popular recipe at Home Brew Kit Reviews, which I'm also very pleased with:
  • 1 tin Cascade Chocolate Mahogany Porter
  • 1 kg dried dark malt extract
  • 600g Yellowbox honey
  • Cascade hops "teabag"
  • Safale S-04 yeast
Next time I'll try for a bit more flavour from the honey and hops; both are quite subtle. (I expected that from the honey, but given the huge hops aroma from the fermenter, I was a bit disappointed.) I was thinking of using Ironbark honey, so I'm glad others have used it successfully. I'd also probably swap the dried malt (bulk stuff from the local homebrew shop) with a liquid extract e.g. Morgan's Masterblend Chocolate Malt, to add a bit more roasted flavours - but only with a stronger honey so it doesn't smother the flavour.

Some brewers warn against using eucalypt honeys - even Yellowbox - because of the "strong" flavours; bring it on, I say! :beerbang: (It might be an issue with honey wheat or honey lager, but porter can handle it.)

I'm also curious to try making other honey beers e.g. braggot, or even mead (if I can buy the honey cheaply enough in bulk.)
 

mika

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The wheat beer with honey that I brewed, took a while for the honey taste to come thru and when it did it was delicious. Now after it's been in the bottle a while it's starting to go a bit the other way, but then that good be the beer turning after a while as well.
In a couple of brews lately there has been the slight hint of eucalyptus, but then I used an all natural honey, and in Aus, at least over here you're going to have some fun trying to get hold of honey that hasn't been touched be eucalyptus somewhere along the way.
 

InCider

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The wheat beer with honey that I brewed, took a while for the honey taste to come thru and when it did it was delicious. Now after it's been in the bottle a while it's starting to go a bit the other way, but then that good be the beer turning after a while as well.
In a couple of brews lately there has been the slight hint of eucalyptus, but then I used an all natural honey, and in Aus, at least over here you're going to have some fun trying to get hold of honey that hasn't been touched be eucalyptus somewhere along the way.
Mika,

I made a few lagers - Munich & Bavarian with some (free) honey from a beekeeper up the road. About 1/2 kg each brew. It was delicious - even used it for the Xmas in July Case swap. Honey flavour faded over time though.

InCider.
 

Brewtus

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There is plenty of other info on honey. Just do a search on 'Honey'. Make sure you treat it as it can be full of wild yeast and other stuff that is inactive while the sugar is at 80%.
 

Jaeger

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After sampling one of my nearly 2 month-old (and rapidly diminishing) bottles of honey porter, the honey flavours are definitely becoming more prominent - and/or the beer/malt flavours are mellowing. I don't think it tastes of Yellowbox honey as such: more a combination of some residual sweetness, a hint of "honey and eucalyptus" cough-lozenge flavour, and a lot of "not-quite-beer; I don't know what it is, but maybe I should open another bottle" kind of flavours... :chug:

I'm also trying some of my third brew - a straight (no additives) two tin, 23L batch of Malt Shovel Oatmeal Stout. It's very smooth and tasty, but I can't help thinking that it would be even better with honey than Cascade Choc. Mahogany Porter... An Oatmeal Ironbark(?) Stout looks likely for this winter. :beer:

I found this post discussing the use of different Aussie honeys in mead to be quite interesting: (see: Eucalyptus mead (long))
 

Jaeger

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There is plenty of other info on honey. Just do a search on 'Honey'. Make sure you treat it as it can be full of wild yeast and other stuff that is inactive while the sugar is at 80%.
I've put on another honey porter, similar to my first brew:
Tin of Cascade Choc. Mahogany Porter
1kg 100% pure Australian honey
1kg Coopers Brew Enhancer 2

I chose not to boil the honey this time to preserve the flavours and aromas. Some claim that Australian honey is too strongly flavoured for brewing; that may be true for mead, but for a "bragot" it's fine. I love Yellowbox, Ironbark, Blue Gum etc. Leatherwood is an unusual flavour, but has been used in commercial brews (though you'd be hard pressed to notice it.) The honey I used is blended, so should be more balanced than a "varietal" one.

The need to boil and skim isn't really necessary these days. Finding honey that hasn't been at least filtered, if not pasteurised, would be a challenge. (Your honey may vary.) I used about 2 litres of boiling water to get the honey/extract out of the containers and dissolve the ingredients; I considered that "good enough" for ingredient sanitisation purposes. I added two sachets of Cascade brewers yeast (one from the kit; one refrigerated from the original kit) to give it a good head start.

Honey certainly curbs the fermentation rate compared to the equivalent weight of malt/sugar. While it may look like not much is happening for the first day or so, giving the fermenter a swirl can result in a surge of CO2 release and foaming - try that several times before thinking about opening the fermenter - the lack of krausen and strong bubbling doesn't mean there's a problem. Once swirling has no significant effect, take a couple of hydrometer readings a few days apart to know when to bottle.
 

BIGRO

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After sampling one of my nearly 2 month-old (and rapidly diminishing) bottles of honey porter, the honey flavours are definitely becoming more prominent - and/or the beer/malt flavours are mellowing. I don't think it tastes of Yellowbox honey as such: more a combination of some residual sweetness, a hint of "honey and eucalyptus" cough-lozenge flavour, and a lot of "not-quite-beer; I don't know what it is, but maybe I should open another bottle" kind of flavours... :chug:

I'm also trying some of my third brew - a straight (no additives) two tin, 23L batch of Malt Shovel Oatmeal Stout. It's very smooth and tasty, but I can't help thinking that it would be even better with honey than Cascade Choc. Mahogany Porter... An Oatmeal Ironbark(?) Stout looks likely for this winter. :beer:

I found this post discussing the use of different Aussie honeys in mead to be quite interesting: (see: Eucalyptus mead (long))


What do you huys think about this?


1 can or morgans blue mountain lager
1kg brew enhancer 2
300g of honey?? (yellowbox mabey?)
and a tea bag of hallertau hops boiled for 20 mins??


dont know why i thought of this but i have never brewed with honey and mabey thought that it might be nice??

Cheers
 

mika

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Should be good, I'd add the Honey to secondary so the less active fermentation doesn't scrub all your flavour out. Honey takes a while to ferment. 10days in secondary would not be too long. Keep it cool, 18-20degs.
Exchange the teabag hops for some proper hops and she be :chug:
 

frasertag

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I have made two ginger beers with honey
Identical recipe in the past few weeks.
One has took 3weeks to ferment out
the other is still going but is at 1002 at the moment and dont think she has much go left, it will sit untill saturday and then ill bottle it.
the honeys i used were different brands so perhaps this has someting to do with it
 
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