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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > Honey mistake?
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Old 10-05-2012, 03:25 PM   #1
jonahk
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Default Honey mistake?

I have been doing partial mash brewing for a little less than a year. (I'm excited to try my first all-grain batch next). However, my latest batch contained a possible error on which I'd like some feedback.

I was making a honey porter (variation of WH honey porter). I opted to add my raw honey after the wort had chilled below the temperature in which the micro-organisms in the honey would die (110F). This would ideally preserve more honey flavor than if I added it directly to the boil. Unfortunately, I forgot to add the honey until after the wort was around 85F. This is still pretty warm, but I suspected that the honey had not fully dissolved even after stirring and transferring to the carboy. (In retrospect, I should have made a bit more hot water and dissolved the honey separately before adding that to the wort...)

After 5 days in primary I racked into a secondary fermenter and there was a fair amount of trub on the bottom (normal) that seemed to include some honey (maybe a lot of honey). Here's where I made some last minute decisions. As I siphoned, I purposely aimed to incorporate the trub, even mixing it in with the beer towards the end. That was intended to incorporate more honey from the bottom if it was there. Even after racking was complete, I poured some (not all) of that trub in through a funnel. This will settle anyway, and I plan to leave it in the bottom before the final racking.

I suspect that more honey was dissolved than I thought and maybe I'm being too neurotic about this.

Here are some questions:
In the end, if the honey is not totally mixed in, could it still be aiding fermentation?

Is there any problem with transferring some trub to the secondary fermenter? I know that part of the point of secondary is to remove a lot of that from the beer.

Should I be able to tell by the activity, or non-activity of my secondary whether fermentation has restarted?

Is there a possibility that 16oz of liquid honey would not dissolve in 4 gallons of wort at 85F? I would hope that my concern is unnecessary! (I know, Relax, don't Worry and have a Homebrew)

Thanks for all the help!
Jonah

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Old 10-05-2012, 08:39 PM   #2
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Honey is naturally practically sterile, so you're going to be fine.

I don't know where you got the 110F temp from. 110F doesn't kill hardly anything. In fact, most bacteria would LOVEEEE 110F temps.

15 seconds at 161F is the magic number to kill off organics. Remember in the future that you have to get up to at least 160F to consider anything sterilized.

Quote:
In the end, if the honey is not totally mixed in, could it still be aiding fermentation?
The yeast will find the honey and will ferment 100% of it, regardless of how dissolved it is. Honey is a simple sugar that yeast can easily consume and ferment.

Quote:
Is there any problem with transferring some trub to the secondary fermenter? I know that part of the point of secondary is to remove a lot of that from the beer.
No issue. You don't even have to use a secondary if you don't want to. But you do want to let that trub you moved to the secondary have enough time to settle to the bottom, then carefully siphon above it when you bottle.

Quote:
Should I be able to tell by the activity, or non-activity of my secondary whether fermentation has restarted?
Did you take gravity readings? You shouldn't have racked to secondary until you were at FG, and if you are at FG, then fermentation is not going to restart.

Quote:
Is there a possibility that 16oz of liquid honey would not dissolve in 4 gallons of wort at 85F? I would hope that my concern is unnecessary!
Again, the honey doesn't need to dissolve for the yeast to eat it, so as long as you were at FG, then what you saw was not honey. If it was honey, then you were not at FG.

Hope that helps!
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Old 10-06-2012, 12:22 AM   #3
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Can you clarify why it is bad to transfer to secondary before full fg is achieved.? Seems it could finish fermentation in the secondary just as easily as it does in the primary?

Thanks

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Old 10-06-2012, 01:51 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gregfreemyer
Can you clarify why it is bad to transfer to secondary before full fg is achieved.? Seems it could finish fermentation in the secondary just as easily as it does in the primary?

Thanks
Once you remove the beer off the yeast cake you risk stuck or incomplete fermentation or attenuation. Yes there are still yeast in suspension but sometimes not enough to finish the fermentation as expected.
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Old 10-06-2012, 02:13 AM   #5
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Doesnt matter.

People routinely add 3-4lbs or more of Honey to room temperature Apple juice or water to make mead and cider. It will sink, but eventually will get eaten by the yeast. Maybe give it a small swirl after a few days to get t he yeast up and the honey not covered by trub.

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Old 10-06-2012, 02:51 AM   #6
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your looking at this ALL wrong...
i dissolve honey in room temp water when making mead. There is no need to have to apply heat to honey to make it incorporate into the wort.
Like others have said also the yeast will find it regardless and chew it down 100%.
NEVER siphon to secondary untill FG is reached. You pitch at a certain rate for a reason. Removing 98% of yeast will indefinitely cause a stalled ferment.

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Old 10-06-2012, 09:59 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by duboman

Once you remove the beer off the yeast cake you risk stuck or incomplete fermentation or attenuation. Yes there are still yeast in suspension but sometimes not enough to finish the fermentation as expected.
(obviously, i'm a noob)

Is yeast cake just the trub at the bottom of the primary? Is there active yeast in there? I don't know why i assumed it was inactive. So transferring to the secondary too soon separates the beer from the active yeast.

I think i got it.

Greg
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Old 10-06-2012, 11:27 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gregfreemyer

(obviously, i'm a noob)

Is yeast cake just the trub at the bottom of the primary? Is there active yeast in there? I don't know why i assumed it was inactive. So transferring to the secondary too soon separates the beer from the active yeast.

I think i got it.

Greg
Once the yeast are done fermenting the beer they flocculate( drop to bottom) and form a yeast cake which also has hop debris and whatever else may have been in the wort. This is called the trub( pronounced troob)

The yeast in the cake is no longer active as all the sugar has been consumed and some is dead yeast cells, if you we're to add more sugar and rouse the yeast they would then go back to work.

Even once the yeast start to settle out they still metabolize their own by products of fermentation and this is what people refer to as cleaning up.

Once the beer is removed from the yeast the chances of it not being able to do these things is reduced which is why you don't remove the beer from the yeast until you have verified it has reached FG.

Hope that helps
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Old 10-07-2012, 02:46 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TopherM
I don't know where you got the 110F temp from. 110F doesn't kill hardly anything. In fact, most bacteria would LOVEEEE 110F temps.
Thanks for all of the info, everyone. I'm excited for the product.
As far as the above question, I am familiar with this temp from yogurt making and Kombucha brewing. In both cases, the bacteria can't survive above 115F. Isn't this why we cool our wort before pitching? So, with raw honey I would assume a similar threshold would apply. Indeed, it is debatable how preserving the "rawness" of the honey would actually effect the flavor.
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Old 10-07-2012, 03:42 PM   #10
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Jonah, I'm sure there are some cultures that are affected at 115*. But if you are trying to sterilize some part of the wort, 115* won't do it. Beer and yogurt are very different animals, if you'll pardon the expression.

@gregfreemyer: Every step in the brewing process is (hopefully) done for a reason. "Because the instructions said to" is not a reason. Transferring to secondary is done to get the beer off the trub in order to add fruit, or oak, or dry hop (even here, not necessary), or to do an extended aging of a big beer. Think about it - why transfer to secondary and intentionally bring the trub along? It serves no purpose. Might as well leave the primary alone.

And don't worry about being a noob. We were all noobs once, and struggled with all these apparently confusing and contradictory ideas. We're here to help and answer questions; it's better to say "I'm thinking of doing X, should I?" than to say "I did X last week, did I screw up?"

Cheers!

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