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Old 09-03-2012, 07:55 AM   #1
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Default Honey and Bourbon barrel

Wasn't sure exactly where to post this so I thought I'd give the science division a try.
So it’s almost time to brew my stout and I’m getting mixed feelings on when to add the honey to my brew. My goal is to end up with a Honey Bourbon Stout. I’ve acquired a bourbon barrel from my local distillery and I plan on adding some honey to add a little aroma and to also help increase the alcohol percent. I’ve found tons of different ways to add honey and wondering what the best way would be for my goal? Some people talk about adding the honey straight into the primary during the last parts of fermentation. Usually at the tail end of fermentation you switch over to secondary, so is there a difference? Can I just add the honey straight into my secondary carboy and siphon from my primary onto that? Also, how do I mix it? I would think that honey will just sink to the bottom? If I added to primary, will the fermentation jump back up again and how do I keep track of the sugars so I can calculate the final ABV? Do I add to primary, let fermentation slow down a second time and then rack to secondary? Or, should I just add honey to secondary and rack from primary once fermentation has slowed down? I plan on then leaving the brew sit in the secondary carboy until I get the barrel on October 6th.

Now a question on the barrel aging part. Once I get the barrel which is coming straight from the distillery, do I need to clean and sanitize with anything or will that kill of the bourbon flavors? Also, how do I avoid contamination issues? I will be aging the beer in the barrel for 7-10 days, but there will be oxygen in the barrel. Do I need to purge that out somehow? Should I add a little sugar to the beer so that a little fermentation takes place and displaces the O2 or would just siphoning it into the barrel stir up the yeast enough to ferment a bit?

Lastly, with the honey added to the brew, do I need to make adjustments on the corn sugar I add on bottling day or will most of the sugar from the honey be alcohol by then?

This was a brain splurge on questions so if anyone has questions about my questions, let me know. Any help is much appreciated as I don’t want to screw this batch up as the barrels not cheap.

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Old 09-03-2012, 09:17 AM   #2
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The honey will reactivate the yeast unless your brew has hit the alcohol limitations of the yeast. This is why you add it at end of primary because your yeast is slowing down to a halt. The problem is this. In most beers your yeast doesn't reach its limitations it runs out of sugar to ferment. If you co2 keg your brew I have a solution for you but if you sugar keg or sugar bottle out won't work because out would leave you with flat beer. There is a chemical you can add to brew to shut down the yeast. so you could add honey just a little at near end of secondary let it sir for a day then turn the yeast off leaving you with a true honey taste in your beer. Its potasium sorbate. You use a half a tsp per gallon.

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Old 09-03-2012, 09:52 AM   #3
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To preserve as much honey aroma as possible, add the honey after the beer is finished fermenting... this can be done in either the primary or the secondary. Personally, if I was going to use a secondary, I would add the honey to that, in order to purge the O2.

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Originally Posted by JFK
The honey will reactivate the yeast unless your brew has hit the alcohol limitations of the yeast. This is why you add it at end of primary because your yeast is slowing down to a halt. The problem is this. In most beers your yeast doesn't reach its limitations it runs out of sugar to ferment. If you co2 keg your brew I have a solution for you but if you sugar keg or sugar bottle out won't work because out would leave you with flat beer. There is a chemical you can add to brew to shut down the yeast. so you could add honey just a little at near end of secondary let it sir for a day then turn the yeast off leaving you with a true honey taste in your beer. Its potasium sorbate. You use a half a tsp per gallon.
It's pretty clear he knows the honey will ferment, and that he even wants that. And that's NOT the reason honey is usually added so late.
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Old 09-04-2012, 03:25 PM   #4
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If you want to figure out your final ABV you need to figure out the sugar content of the honey, since this can vary a bit depending on the honey that you're using. If you dissolve the honey in some water (distilled water if you want to be extra accurate) and measure the gravity in degrees Plato you can then weigh your honey/water mixture to calculate the sugar mass that you're adding.

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Old 09-11-2012, 12:29 PM   #5
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Since I'm going to age this for a bit in a barrel, should I add the honey to the barrel or the secondary? Can the bourbon barrel handle the beating of an active fermentation from adding honey to the starving yeast?

Also, looking at honey last night at my local grocery store and I didn't see any bottles that said pasteurized. Will it say pasteurized or is everything sold in a store pasteurized?

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Old 09-11-2012, 12:49 PM   #6
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Honey doesn't need to be pasteurized because it's naturally antibiotic. When I use honey, I add it after the primary fermentation is complete. The reason being, it's easier for the yeasts to eat the honey sugars than the malt sugars. If you add it too early to the wort, it'll favor the honey over the malt and then have to adapt back to the malt, which can promote stress in the yeast. Pick a nicely flavored local honey such as a tupelo, wildflower or orange blossom. Avoid commercial brands as they are usually imports from China and god knows what chemicals are in them.

Now, here's the thing about honey. It is almost 100% fermentable, and it will give your beer a very dry mouth feel if not used carefully. If you want to preserve that honey aroma and flavor in your beer, you'll probably want to severely cold crash the beer to stall the secondary fermentation after a few days on the honey. Another trick that brewers use to add honey flavor and aroma to their beers is to use honey malt, which is an adjunct grain with that great honey taste and smell.

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Old 09-12-2012, 07:14 PM   #7
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Is there any way to just figure out the abv using my hydrometer and a number of measurements? My plan is to primary for 5-7 days or until it slows down, transfer to secondary and add honey. Let sit until I get the bourbon barrel and age in that 7-10 days. Bottle, let sit, then enjoy!!

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Old 09-12-2012, 07:32 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scorpionc53
Is there any way to just figure out the abv using my hydrometer and a number of measurements? My plan is to primary for 5-7 days or until it slows down, transfer to secondary and add honey. Let sit until I get the bourbon barrel and age in that 7-10 days. Bottle, let sit, then enjoy!!
Sort of. But it also requires a refractometer.
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Old 09-12-2012, 09:14 PM   #9
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Quote:
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Sort of. But it also requires a refractometer.
Why would you need a refractometer instead of just a hydrometer? If you dilute the honey and measure the gravity before adding it to the secondary you should be able to calculate what the OG would have been if the honey was added to the original wort.
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Old 09-13-2012, 01:16 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bdh

Why would you need a refractometer instead of just a hydrometer? If you dilute the honey and measure the gravity before adding it to the secondary you should be able to calculate what the OG would have been if the honey was added to the original wort.
I interpreted the question as wanting to calculate it with only the final product available for measurement.

If for some reason you don't have it, you can actually calculate the OG with an equation that requires both a hydrometer and a refractometer measurement of the finished product.
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