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GabeSyme 09-19-2012 08:56 PM

Newb Honey Selection help
I have a starter from some leftover yeast in a belgian golden strong ale with WLP 570 right now and I was thinking about making something in the family of a braggot/sahti/golden strong ale with it since I have it. My planned recipe goes as follows:

Batch size: 5 gallons
6lbs Belgian Pilsner
2lbs Wheat Malt
1lb Rye Malt
9lbs Honey
1oz Styrian Goldings @ 60 min
1oz Red Juniper Berries @ 5 min
1/2 gallon starter of WLP 570

According to the Tastybrew calculator this should land me around 1.095 and could reach a pretty low FG considering WLP 570's high attenuation.

My question is this: Considering the strong flavors in this: estery/phenolic yeast, juniper berries, Rye malt, and hops; what kind of honey would be able to contend without completely overpowering the rest of the ingredients? Basswood perhaps? Or Buckwheat? Maybe Orange Blossom? Or should I throw caution to the wind and use wildflower honey? I have little experience in matching honey varietals with adjuncts since I've never made anything besides a few traditional meads. Any experiences or advice would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks, GS

GabeSyme 09-30-2012 09:43 PM

Alright, the braggot is in the fermenter and there is a tangible wind coming out of the airlock. This thing is going crazy. I pitched 3/4 gallon starter of WLP570 and a smackpack of wyeast 1388 since I let the starter go past its most active stage. Final volume was 4.75 gallons plus a .75g starter. Tastybrew was way off on the amount of sugar the honey added. The OG was 1.120 instead of the expected 1.095! I wanted the extra yeast so this would be able to dry out and not get stuck.

I do have a bit of a question concerning nutrients at this point. Without thinking much I mixed in the amount of nutrient and energizer recommended on the bottles, something like 2.5 teaspoons of energizer and 4 teaspoons of nutrient. I'm wondering if I should continue adding more nutrient as I'm degassing or I should leave it alone since the malt has nutrients too and I'd rather not overdo it (are there off flavors from un-used nutrient?).

Anyone have any suggestions about fermentation process from here? I'm thinking if this yeast has a tolerance around 14% I should expect an FG around 1.015, right?

vespa2t 10-01-2012 02:01 AM

What's your ferm temp? Of its going crazy then maybe you need to cool it down to slow ferm. I like to ferment at 60ish. Low and slow just like BBQ.

snuesen 10-01-2012 10:53 AM

Too much nutrient can give off flavors yes. they can generally be aged out I believe, but why risk it?

Stated yeast tolerance is for a beer wort, ymmv when using honey!

If it is fermenting super fast, I also recommend dropping the temp a touch to help prevent those higher alcohols from giving you rocket fuel.

snuesen 10-01-2012 10:58 AM

No clue on the honey sorry... I would lean towards something that doesn't throw off the juniper, though - it's a great headline flavor (at least in the sahti I've had).

GabeSyme 10-01-2012 04:40 PM

Thanks for the advice. I went with 6lbs of California Orange Blossom honey and 3lbs of wildflower honey into the fermenter and mixed it with my drill and degasser. The ambient temp is right around 68-70F so I'll try my typical chill method of resting the bucket in a tub of water to drop it a couple of degrees and slow the little buggers down a bit!

snuesen 10-01-2012 10:56 PM

This sounds like a sick (read: awesome!) Experiment tho - I hope it attenuates out. You may find that as it dries out the honey character is masked. You can always stabilize and back sweeten if needed

GabeSyme 10-26-2012 07:35 PM

I just racked this after bringing the temp up to 78-80F to help attenuation and then dropping the temp down to 65 for another week. The FG is 1.029. I was hoping for a little lower but from 1.121 to 1.029 is still ~75% and 13.7% abv. I could taste the hot alcohol flavors, especially once it warmed up, but I expected that from the Golden Strong Ale yeast. Will that ever age out completely? It also had a nice spicy, citrus flavor and a little bready earthy backbone from the malt. I'm looking forward to seeing how this ages! I should repost an updated recipe since I added another pound of rye malt.

GabeSyme 12-26-2012 04:58 AM

Batch size: 5 gallons
6lbs Belgian Pilsner
2lbs Wheat Malt
2lbs Rye Malt
6lbs Orange Blossom Honey
3lbs Wildflower honey
1oz Styrian Goldings @ 60 min
1oz Red Juniper Berries @ 5 min
1/2 gallon starter of WLP 570
Single infusion mash rest at 150F
OG: 1.121 FG: 1.029

I'm really happy with how this came out. I've had it in secondary since the end of October and I pulled a few bottles off for the holidays. This was the most expensive batch I've ever made and it was work every penny. I let it go around 72F for 7-10 days an then raised the up to 80F over 5 more days and let it sit there for a week. Then I let it drop to 65F for 2 more weeks before moving it to secondary.

The color is golden yellow. It almost looks like the honey itself but less viscous. It is crystal clear without any fining agents. It came out with a strong honey sweetness and juniper berry citrus out front which fades to a malty, slightly phenolic aftertaste. Good earthy backbone to it too. The WLP 570 lends some phenolic flavor but I was expecting more. The hot alcohol notes are really only noticable when it comes up to room temp. I've had some great comments on it and I'm excited to try it next fall when it gets cold out.

WVMJ 12-26-2012 03:45 PM

For you next batch you may even go to darker honey, some good wildflower, tulip poplar and add a few pounds of buckwheat honey if you can get it, it will be a bit more earthy that your batch now with the orange blossum but I think that honey flavor got lost in there, but the wildflower and buckwheat shoud stand their ground. Also, did you heat the honey or add it after the must cooled down to at least lukewarm to preserve the flavor of the honey? I like very dark beer and glad I read your post, I want to make a beer so dark you cant see throug it with the darkest honey I can get, or even make it a boche style. WVMJ

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