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Old 05-06-2008, 08:47 PM   #1
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Default Honeysuckle Bier

Using the cheap labor of my 11 year old and the neighbors 11 year old, I obtained a full 1 gallon container of honeysuckle flowers this weekend. I want to make a honeysuckle wheat or blonde, maybe even an amber or porter.

My dilemma is how to use the honeysuckle. My conventional wisdom is to add 1/2 at 10 or so minutes, and the other half at flame out. THIS CONCERNS ME GREATLY. Why? Because I made a small cup of tea with the honeysuckle and it tasted horrible! Vegetable and viney, no honeysuckle flavor/aroma at all. Now I did this by boiling the flowers. So no boiling! Which leaves me with the option of adding them at flameout or dryhopping with them. I'm not wanting to dry hop with them as there's got to be wild yeast/bacteria.

Also by the next morning the cup of honeysuckle tea had turned from pale yellow with just a slight hint of lime green, to a fairly deep hooker/leaf green. Uggggh

Has anyone else used Honeysuckle? Any success?

(and yes I did a HBT search for honeysuckle yielding very little, all in the arena of mead with very little info)

Help I'm lost....

Phillip

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Old 05-06-2008, 09:07 PM   #2
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Can't help you with the beer. But, honeysuckle (and other flowers) makes a great wine. If you have some leftover, you could try an easy recipe for honeysuckle wine! (http://winemaking.jackkeller.net/reques81.asp)

Now, that recipe (from Jack Keller's site) calls for steeping the flowers, like tea, for three hours. So, could you try that with a few flowers and see what happens? Bring some water to a boil, turn it off, and add the flowers, then taste it in a couple of hours? Maybe THAT can be used in the primary as some of the brewing water, or even reboil it and taste it to see what happens. Just a thought.

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Old 05-06-2008, 09:31 PM   #3
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You might try an alcohol extraction of the flowers. Maybe you could add a cheap bottle of vodka to the flowers and let it sit a couple days. Of course this may be too much alcohol. Maybe you could dry the flowers first on very low heat in the oven and then extract with a smaller amount of vodka.

Now, if you are kinda geeky and a bit of a tinkerer, this may work: The goal is to collect the aroma compounds (actually this would work with hops too). You will be "distilling" the aroma compounds, but rather than collecting drips, you will catch the aromas on activated charcoal. Activated charcoal is very good at absorbing aroma compounds. Rinse some activated charcoal (1/2 cup or so) with water to remove the dust, then dry it and then rinse it in alcohol to sanitize it. Now you need to find some kind of tube to put the charcoal in such that you can pass an airstream through it. Now you need to put the flowers in a container that you can blow (or suck) air through and put your charcoal filter at the outlet side of the airstream. As volatile aroma compounds are released, they will get caught in the airstream and then be trapped in the charcoal as they pass through the filter. I don't know however how long this will take. Some gentle heating might help to speed the process. I had a friend so something similar to collect and compare the scents of different orchids as part of his thesis. He put the orchids in a chamber with an air inlet and a small charcoal filter on the outlet along with a pump to pull the air through. He let it run overnight and would then elute the compounds with a solvent and use a GC-MS to analyze the components. You could simply add the trapped aromas by dumping the charcoal (already sanitized)into your secondary. The charcoal will settle out. Or maybe better, extract with a small amount of vodka. You could trap the aromas now and put the filter in a sealed container in the freezer until you are ready to use it

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Old 05-06-2008, 09:57 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pjj2ba View Post
You might try an alcohol extraction of the flowers. Maybe you could add a cheap bottle of vodka to the flowers and let it sit a couple days. Of course this may be too much alcohol. Maybe you could dry the flowers first on very low heat in the oven and then extract with a smaller amount of vodka.

Now, if you are kinda geeky and a bit of a tinkerer, this may work: The goal is to collect the aroma compounds (actually this would work with hops too). You will be "distilling" the aroma compounds, but rather than collecting drips, you will catch the aromas on activated charcoal. Activated charcoal is very good at absorbing aroma compounds. Rinse some activated charcoal (1/2 cup or so) with water to remove the dust, then dry it and then rinse it in alcohol to sanitize it. Now you need to find some kind of tube to put the charcoal in such that you can pass an airstream through it. Now you need to put the flowers in a container that you can blow (or suck) air through and put your charcoal filter at the outlet side of the airstream. As volatile aroma compounds are released, they will get caught in the airstream and then be trapped in the charcoal as they pass through the filter. I don't know however how long this will take. Some gentle heating might help to speed the process. I had a friend so something similar to collect and compare the scents of different orchids as part of his thesis. He put the orchids in a chamber with an air inlet and a small charcoal filter on the outlet along with a pump to pull the air through. He let it run overnight and would then elute the compounds with a solvent and use a GC-MS to analyze the components. You could simply add the trapped aromas by dumping the charcoal (already sanitized)into your secondary. The charcoal will settle out. Or maybe better, extract with a small amount of vodka. You could trap the aromas now and put the filter in a sealed container in the freezer until you are ready to use it
rarely would i use this word on this forum....but that's epic!
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Old 05-07-2008, 05:33 AM   #5
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Thanks Yooper, but I think I'll pass due to that recipe requiring a "simmer" method which is exactly what produced the putrid results last night.

Pjj2ba... That sounds like exactly the deal I'm looking for! My only thing is do you have some suggestions for equipment?

Andy yes... this does sound epic, Sensational if it works!

Schlante,
Phillip

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Old 05-07-2008, 06:18 AM   #6
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Can't help but I would be interested to hear the results, there's a honeysuckle down the back that asking to be picked.

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Old 05-07-2008, 06:13 PM   #7
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I guess it depends on what you have access to. I've got access to all kinds of fun lab stuff, but I assume you don't. For the activated charcoal, finer is better, but not so fine as to be dust. I know you can get it a pet stores in the aquarium section. While this would work, it is not ideal, it is a little big. Maybe if it were crushed a bit more. You want lots of surface area to grab onto the aroma molecules. Make sure you rinse it first to remove any dust. What to pack this into. Hmmmmm......how about a turkey baster, yeah that would work. Fill up the baster with the charcoal. You may want to put a small wad of cotton at the tip so the charcoal doesn't fall out. When it is nearly full, put a cottton ball on the other end to "seal" it up. Don't pack it too tight, air has to flow through it.

The next thing is what to put the flowers into. Ideally something that can be warmed a little. A 1 gal jug would work, or even a carboy, or even a brewing bucket. Something air tight. Now you need an inlet and an outlet. For a jug this could just be a stopper with two holes in it. Put the flowers in, plug it up, and then I'd use a aquarium pump or something to blow air into the container. Now use some tubing to connect the turkey baster charcoal aroma trap (TBCAT) to the outlet and let er' rip. A gentle warming of either the container, or ideally the air supply, would probably speed things along. Probably putting the set-up in full sun would work well to speed things along. You don't want to heat it up too much. When you are tired of waiting, I guess I'd suggest eluting with vodka. One could dump this right in as is, but the charcoal would also grab flavor compounds out of the beer. How much affect this would have, I can't say. For alcohol, I'd use whatever has the highest proof you can find. Just pour that into your TBCAT and collect what drips out (like fly sparging). The finer your charcoal, the slower this will go.
Alternatively, you could dump the charcoal out into a measuring cup and add the alcohol to that and let it extract for a few minutes(batch sparge), settle, and remove the now flavored alcohol with the baster.

Is that geeky enough?

I had another thought. More pricey though. Maybe one of those charcoal water (air in this case) filters would do the trick? I'm not real familiar with them. The tricky part would be how to recover your aroma compounds afterwards in as small a volume as possible. I'm nut sure how the actual cartridge is constructed. I can imagine some sort of deconstruction of the filter afterwards to help with the extraction. Oh, I'd do a pre rinse with alcohol before using the cartridge to get rid of anything icky from manufacturing of the filter. These things are designed for water and the alcohol may rinse off some icky stuff that water won't.

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Old 05-08-2008, 01:00 AM   #8
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Thanks pjj2ba, God loves us geeks! I'll be trying this this weekend. It'll probably be a few weeks before I can brew this bier though, but I'll post how it works as I proceed.

Thanks again and Schlante,
Phillip

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Old 05-08-2008, 06:03 PM   #9
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You can always test out the apparatus you build with anything aromatic (maybe some roses for the wife), just to test and see if it works before trying it out with the honeysuckle. You might want to use a fresh batch of charcoal though for the honeysuckle in case any of the test batch carries over.

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Old 05-30-2008, 03:44 PM   #10
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if you sterilized the charcoal soaking them in vodka to rinse, and baked them dry, then did this, would it be safe to dump the charcoal into a carboy as a secondary? Would the charcoal "filter" your beer?

What about packing the flowers into a jar and freezing them for a while to help clean them, then using an air pump with a tube to the bottom of the jar with a short tube to come out at the top (like a cornie keg) and blowing in air with an aquarium pump run through a hepa filter, with the outflow bubbling down in the fermenter for aeration before pitching?

Or... (and now I'm just getting silly) maybe pump CO2 through the jar, and after it's purged, send it to the bottom of the secondary, or force carb a keg with it or something like that (maybe use a carbonation stone)....

hrm....

I found this thread because last night I was drowning in the smell of honeysuckle from a huge bush in the yard. And I was 50 feet away from it! I instantly thought "Honeysuckle Wheat!"

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