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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Extract Brewing > Honey Wheat Brew
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Old 09-04-2010, 08:40 AM   #1
iansbrew
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Default Honey Wheat Brew

I started a wheat beer a few days ago (Sep 1) and planned on turning it into a honey wheat by adding 1 to 2 lbs of honey to the wort at high kraeusen. Unfortunantly, I may be a bit late for that. It is now the morning of Sep 4 and it is just over 3 days since I first put the wort in the fermenter...a plastic pail. I will probably add it anyway to see what happens...who knows. I have done a lot of research on using honey to brew beer and have found much information that is contradictory. Most peopple say that it adds little flover and can make the beer drier and biter. I think it may be possible that they added the honey incorrectly. Here is my plan at this point anyway.

First, I will pasteurize the honey according to standard practices...heating it to 176 degrees F for 2 1/2 hours in the oven. Then I will dilute it with cooled, boiled water to reach the original specific gravity of the wort. I will then remove the airlock, pour the cooled solution in and replace the airlock. Hopefully using this method (obtained from the National Honey Board), I will be able to retain some of the honey esters and maybe some honey flavor as well. My only concern is that I guess I missed "high kraeusen"...any comments on this or my methods?

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Old 09-04-2010, 11:47 PM   #2
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there should be enough yeast left to finish the job. not sure why you need to dilute the honey.... but i bet it would ferment without problems, just like your priming sugar would.

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Old 09-04-2010, 11:51 PM   #3
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It may just be because I have no clue, but if you are going to add it to boiled water anyway, why not just boil 15 minutes and not deal with the stove?

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Old 09-08-2010, 03:01 AM   #4
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I have already added the honey to the primary and it took off nicely. I added it last Saturday around 2pm and checked it about 3 hours later and it was bubbling away again. I used the recommendations from the National Honey Association as they made the most sense to me. First I boiled a large pot of tap water (I would have preferred filtered). Then turned it off and let it cool. This is the water I will eventually use to dilute the honey. Next I heated the honey (2 Lbs. of uncooked and unfiltered wildflower honey) on the stovetop in an oven proof pan to approximately 176 F. I then placed the pan uncovered in the oven preheated to 176 F and set the timer for 2.5 hours. I let the honey cool a bit then attempted to dilute it to an SG of 1.04 (the same initial SG as the wort). Once I had it diluted to 10 cups I gave up and with a SG of 1.1, I added the now cool pasteurized honey-water mix to the fermenter. It is now Tuesday evening and it is still bubbling. I will take that a s a good sign.

My thoughts behind this are that by following these steps and pasteurizing the honey instead of just adding it to the boil initially, at 45 min or at flame-out, I will hopefully retain some of the properties of the honey that make it so tasty...whatever those are. I have heard brewer after brewer tell me that honey ferments almost completely and that you don't wind up with any honey flavor left in the final product. My theory is that they were not following the methods that I have used here and that is why they got the results they did. We will see.

I have also heard many people say that honey is already sterile and that it can just be added straight to the brew without treatment. Natural untreated honey is actually not sterile, but rather can have a large number of organisms in it that are dormant. Honey has almost no water in it and therefore does not support growth of these organisms, but once water is added these native wild yeast, bacteria and pollens can flourish unless neutralized by pasteurization or boiling. Boiling gets rid of the desirable esters that honey has, so pasteurization would be preferred for my purposes anyway.

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Old 09-08-2010, 04:12 AM   #5
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Please let us know how that works out, if you really get some honey flavor using that method. I have never been able to do so but I haven't used your technique.

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Old 09-10-2010, 07:12 PM   #6
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I'm not sure why diluting honey would cause it to ferment any differently. I'm prepared to believe that unheated honey will ferment differently from boiled or pasteurized honey, but I'm not sure why adding it after the boil make a difference.

Do you have a control sample of the plain wheat? I'd be interested in tasting it back to back with the honey-wheat.

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Old 09-10-2010, 07:54 PM   #7
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Pericles, Thanks for your comments and questions. I am by no means an expert on this subject and I only know what I have read (but I have read a great deal)...so far. I think describing the unheated honey as fermenting differently might be misleading. My opinion is that it will ferment the same as heated honey. the sugars probably do not change with heat. There is a quality of the honey that is said to change with heat. It is difficult to describe or quantify...hopefully it will be easier to taste. It is claimed by the National Honey Board. and others that boiling destroys what they call the honey's "esters". These, I assume, are the flavors that you are want to retain when you use honey. We will see in a couple of weeks. As to why you dilute the honey before adding it to the fermented I can only guess you do this to not change the original SG. It may also allow the yeast to get to the honey more rapidly. Again these are all just my slightly educated guesses.

No, I did not make a controlled sample. I will let other "failed" attempts to use honey serve as the control. The claim is that because honey ferments so completely that there is no honey taste or effect after the fermentation and that it will just increase the alcohol content and make the final product drier with less body due to the lack of dextrins in honey. Again, we will see soon. It is still fermenting (bubbling) 9 days out from the initial pitch and 6 days from when I added the pasteurized honey. Once that stops I will let it sit for another week. I may rack it to secondary, but since it is a Hefe-weizen it isn't really necessary. In the end I will keg it and force carbonate.

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Old 09-10-2010, 07:56 PM   #8
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Here is a link to some of the info I am using:
http://www.honey.com/images/downloads/home_brew.pdf

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Old 09-13-2010, 02:26 PM   #9
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Honey leaves a clove-type taste. It will ferment completely regardless of what you mix it with before you put it in the fermenter, IMO

Nice attempt though, interested to see what happens.

With my honey wheat bear I didn't boil it at all either. It was added right before putting it into my primary. Still fermented completely. I can't say that it tastes dry or bitter at all, but nor do I take a swig and automatically feel succulent honey flavors swirling in my mouth. To be honest, it tastes close to a micro Honeyweiss

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