I finally got this brewed yesterday morning and it looks/smells amazing. Per my previous post, honeys used were: Amber Wildflower (AWF), Clover, Buckwheat (BW) and Orange Blossom (OB).
My original thought was to use two pots to bring my stepped additions up to temp before adding them to the main pot (5 gal stainless). I realized I was over thinking the process and just added the honey to the main pot at each addition. Since there are cooking differences between gas and electric, it might be worth noting this is all on gas.
I used 18 lbs honey for about 6 gal of bochet in a 6.5 gal carboy.
In the final product, my time:honey:heat was as follows -
2 hrs......3lbs Amber Wildflower....................High Heat/Rolling Boil
1.5 hrs...2lbs Clover, 1lb ea AWF, BW, OB.......Reduced heat to Medium/Simmer
1hr........2lbs Clover, 1lb ea AWF, BW, OB.......Medium/Simmer
.5hr.......2lbs Clover, 1lb ea AWF, BW, OB.......Medium/Simmer
I made a big starter of KV 1116 about a week ago, 1.5L, decanted off the top half and pitched the rest. I noticed signs of fermenting about 8 hrs in, and I pitched my first round of Superfood PLUS.
My OG was: weird. I'll comment on that below.*
Notes and observations:
Turtlescales and Mrbrownfolks' posts got me thinking, and while I'm interested in the carmel/toffee notes this could produce, I didn't want them overpowering. I reduced my long burn from my original 6lbs for 2.5hrs to 3lbs for 2hrs.
I started on high heat, but within 15 minutes it was well on its way to burning (like, way burning) and an acrid white smoke was on its way to filling the house (SWMBO was not amused). By the end of the half hour the honey had turned black as night. The smell and taste were, like has been previously noted in other posts, very much like burned marshmallows. Not wanting it to get too much burndeder (that's totally a word, just trust me) I opted for a lower heat and cooked the rest on medium with what I think were sufficient results.
Protein break? Much like with beer, a foam developed on my boil. It looks exactly like a protein break. I left it alone and added everything to the carboy. This morning there's still a foam cap in the carboy. I imagine it will eventually fall back in to the solution.
The volume increase was amazing. Again, this has been noted previously but I'd like to reiterate for those who might try this. You NEED a big pot. If I weren't using my 5 gal stock pot this could have turned into a disastrous mess very quickly. As it was, had I added any more honey this would have definitely boiled over. I can't speak to a lower heat for longer, but it's possible the volume increase might not be so great then.
Boiling honey is lava. Despite my best efforts at safety, after my last honey addition the volume increased almost to the top of the stock pot. When one bubble burst it sent a glop of honey flying a good 3-4 ft and it landed right on my hand. I have a spectacular blister as a result. Be careful.
The bees. Holy crap, the bees. If you do this outside, best of luck. If you do this inside, make sure the screens are secured tight. We had about 10 just hovering outside the kitchen window while this was on the stove. A few more popped by throughout the process to say hi.
When you add water to the honey, add it slowly. The honey is hot enough to boil the water on contact, and for the first quart I added in it would boil up immediately. Be careful here not to add too much as it could cause a mess and possibly hurt you.
My honey candied. Hard crystals formed and separated to the bottom of the carboy. My best guess is this is a result from high burn. I'm not sure exactly what % this happened to, but it looks like a lot separated out. I'll be interested to see how well the crystals dissolve as fermentation progresses.
*As a result of the candying, I couldn't get a true OG reading. My estimated OG was 1.108, however just before I pitched the yeast (and after some separation had occurred) my OG was 1.056. After shaking the crap out of it and getting the crystals back up in to the solution, I couldn't get a reading above 1.070. I'm not fretting too much about it, though I'll have to just guess about my nutrient schedule since I won't know when my true sugar breaks are.
I have a strict "no honey left behind" policy so I turned the containers upside down to drain out as much honey clinging to the sides as I could. I got about 3/4 of a cup, then used warm water to dissolve the rest of what was in the containers. I figure I got about a cup total. I added this at the very end, so it wasn't burned at all. While I think this is a negligible addition, for the posterity of the process I figure it's worth noting.
If everything goes smoothly this should ferment out totally dry and I'll back sweeten accordingly.
Again, this'll get french oak in secondary.
All photos courtesy of sous chef SWMBO.
3lbs AWF starting to boil
3lbs AWF after 30 min high heat. You can see how much it expanded up the sides.
Color of the AWF after 30 min high boil.
About 1hr in. 8 lbs honey in the pot.
1hr 45 min in. 18 lbs of honey expands to fill almost the entire pot.
The final product. It's a little hard to tell the color, but it's a nice dark brown (almost black) with an almost burgundy hue.
Oh, and for those concerned about the process ruining a brew pot, mine cleaned up just fine. There might be a bit of discoloring on the bottom, but nothing to be worried about. Everything actually cleaned up significantly easier than I'd imagined.