honey added, very dry, strong alcohol smell/taste

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hurley195

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I have a few questions regarding use of honey and also the strong alcohol smell/taste + very dry tasting. I got this strong alcohol smell/taste while sipping a sample from a gravity check when thinking its time to bottle. I only assume its the honey that ruined the batch? This was my first batch, so maybe its just a sloppy beginners batch. I was very careful with my sanitation, star-san used in correct concentration on all equipment, NO rinsing of carboy, etc. Also, I did make a mistake on OG gravity, only came out at 1.034, but I do now realized I did not mix it well after adding top up water and likely got a bad reading. It was mixed very well before pitching yeast and had a vigorous fermentation with some even escaping thru the airlock for mmm maybe a couple hours before I saw that bugger and re-sanitized the airlock and re-bunged. After that OK with no more krausen trying to escape. Blow off tube from the start next time. Leason learned.

Details: NB carribou slobber (brown ale). Wyeast 1332 NW ale (activated/inflated). followed directions per NB, except I decided to experiment with adding honey... 18 days primary, 36 days so far in secondary. Yikes, still trying to ferment in secondary because of honey? Yes, Im blaming the honey again. House at 63-66 degrees, Id say mostly constant around 64 degrees. I did not see bubbles in the airlock for nearly a week, so I decided its gravity check/bottle time! I moved the carboy to my bottling area and that bugger started bubbling again after the move and now seems to be trying to ferment again! I assume the movement gave the yeast a little kick and that is why. I decided to take a final gravity reading and NOT bottle. reads FG1.010 and will check in 2-3 days to see if I can bottle. Anyway, that sample I sipped from the gravity check was simply put. TERRIBLE. Smells of alcohol, tastes of alcohol and is VERY dry. I got some hints if hops, but the taste was just to say, dissapointing.

Any thoughts on what happened?

BTW my second batch of a pilsner was bottled before this one a few weeks ago. This one turned out great!

Story short on the honey, many people suggest these times as options: during boil, at flame out, at high krausen, secondary, bottle priming, etc. Simply put, I chose to add in secondary to try and retain honeys delicate flavors/aromas and went with the theory its naturally anti-bacterial, but knowing some yeast can be found in honey if not boiled or pasturized.
 

TyTanium

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A few things.

First, the hot, boozy taste may be from the honey, but it is also very possible from too high of a fermentation temp. What yeast strain did you use? Some of them work very quickly and generate a lot of heat; so 64F ambient might push 70F+ fermentation, which could definitely give you hot, boozy taste. That will mellow some with time, but not much.

Honey definitely increases dryness, and if used in large quantities it can have a very intense boozy character. That definitely mellows with age (see: meadmaking). It's fine to add it when you did, but I think most of us would add it during flameout or during chilling. It's not necessary to pasteurize it, but it sure dissolves easier in warm wort. Plus it's one less step later on.


So, for this batch, I would leave it for a while and see how it changes. But don't expect it to become wonderful. Shoot for drinkable, haha.

And start another batch, focusing on keeping your fermentation cool. A wet towel and a fan works wonders.
 
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hurley195

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OH. I used 12oz of honey. A little less than 10% of grain bill. forgot to add that..
 

TyTanium

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OH. I used 12oz of honey. A little less than 10% of grain bill. forgot to add that..
Oh, cool. That's not much at all; shouldn't really affect it that much. My bet is on your fermentation temperature and/or yeast health (what yeast? did you pitch enough?)
 
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hurley195

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I used the Wyest 1332 Northwest Ale Smack pack. I pitched at 67-68 degrees and as noted my house is pretty steady around 64 degrees. Yes, I was also surprised that only 12 oz of honey dried the beer out this much.. The batch sure doesnt seem infected even though I did have some krausen escape through the airlock early on but remedied that quickly by resantizing and rebunging it.
 

daksin

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Yea, 10% honey is not over the top. Hot alcohol flavor is likely fusels from overwarm fermentations. However, if it's just boozy, it may age out; what was your predicted OG? Your low one was likely, as you said, a bad reading from insufficiently mixed wort.
 
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hurley195

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DAKSIN -- My predicted OG should have been between 1.045 and 1.050. I followed the NB instructions very close and that is what the OG should be at. I am quite sure my OG reading was off due to not mixing well after top up water.
 

Schol-R-LEA

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Mind you, it is often suggested - for good reason - that if you want general honey-like flavors (as opposed to flavors for a specific honey variety), you would be better off adding honey malt to your mash rather than using actual honey. It uses a unique malting method that gives it a very sweet, smooth honey flavor. I would experiment with both and see which gets the results you seek the best.
 

m1batt1

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I've never had any trouble with using honey. I usually add it 5-10 minutes before flameout. Last two batches of my honey wheat that I've made I also added 1# of honey in secondary with great results.

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jbock220

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I've never had any trouble with using honey. I usually add it 5-10 minutes before flameout. Last two batches of my honey wheat that I've made I also added 1# of honey in secondary with great results.

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How how much are you adding at flameout, how long are you fermenting in primary and secondary? Do you use honey malt, and if not do you taste the honey at all or do you do it just for drying and lightening the body?

Sorry for all the questions. It's nice to have someone who's got experience.
Thanks!
 

m1batt1

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How how much are you adding at flameout, how long are you fermenting in primary and secondary? Do you use honey malt, and if not do you taste the honey at all or do you do it just for drying and lightening the body?

Sorry for all the questions. It's nice to have someone who's got experience.
Thanks!

The kits I use have 1 pound of honey for the late addition. As for time frames I typically do 2 weeks in primary and then when I do the extra honey I don't follow a strict time frame. Just however long it takes it to ferment out but generally it's another two weeks.

As for honey malt I'm not certain as I do extract kits and have never paid attention to what the steeping grains are. I typically get a decent honey flavor out of the honey addition into the fermenter.




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rodwha

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I've been working a fair amount with honey and honey malt.

I have found that too much honey malt gives it a very harsh grainy flavor that takes forever to mellow enough.

I've also found that too much honey gives beer a very watery strange feel. It also can give a boozy taste, which is what I thought might be your problem, but saw you didn't use that much.

I've added honey to the boil, at flameout, and in the fermentor a week after fermentation began. I won't boil it anymore. I've even used it for priming.

I've used honey in wheats, blondes, and a cream ale.

My latest honey wheat is a bit strong as it's meant to be moving beer where you just don't have the time to relax and enjoy your beer, but here is my recipe:

6 gals partial mash/partial boil

3 lbs wheat DME (2 lbs at FO)
2.25 lbs honey (FO)
1.75 lbs 2-row
1.75 lbs soft white wheat berries (pulsed in a blender)
0.5 lb honey malt
0.4 oz ea Willamette and Mt Hood @ 45 mins
0.8 oz ea Willamette and Mt Hood @ 20/5 mins
WB-06 dry yeast

1.053/1.008
5.9% ABV
30 IBU's
4 SRM

I adjusted my efficiency # to 70% to match my OG. I assume this is mostly due to not crushing the wheat berries well, though I also had troubles with mash temp swings.

My FG was a bit lower at 1.006, which gave me ~6.2% ABV.

This beer does not come off as being as strong as it is until you've drank a couple, and also doesn't taste like 30 IBU's.
 
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