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Using Honey as primer - modification of Palmer's Cinncinati Pale ale

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RolandSA

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Hey all,

I need some advice on my first batch. I took a recipe from Palmer's book (which I've been reading) for Cinncinnati pale ale and made one minor change.

After I boil, I poured the wort into the primary as directed, but instead of pouring it into 11.4L of water, I mixed a pound honey into the water.

So, I poured the wort into 11.4L of honey / water solution.



My Question:
It's now time to bottle and I was wondering if instead of priming sugar, I could use approx 5 ounces of Honey as a primer? I do have priming sugar, but I was aiming for a subtle honey-like flavour which I do not believe 1 pound mixed into the wort will give.

I read in the Palmer book that honey is an acceptable substitute. Is there anything I should know about using honey to specifically prime with??

I've read of using honey in the wort and during fermentation but not as primer.

This Sunday will have been a month in the primary (I left it a little longer for the honey I've already added to fully ferment.

Any advice would be much appreciated.


Thanks,
R.
 

Kumbria

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Honestly if this is your first batch you need to follow the KISS principle and just use priming sugar. The amount of Honey you'll use will be imperceptible however you run all sorts of risks from bottle bombs to an infection. Until you have a few batches under your belt and you are fully confident on the process, play it safe, use the priming sugar and enjoy your first batch in a couple of weeks.
 

Chromebrew

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I agree with trying to get through a few brews without trying to change it up much. If you insist on trying this primer, check out the following website. It will help:

http://www.northernbrewer.com/priming-sugar-calculator/

I highly suggest just focusing on the basics, its easy to get caught up in all the variables :) whatever you end up doing, have fun!
 
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RolandSA

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I'm leaning towards using Priming sugar (corn sugar-dextrose) because I've read a lot of mixed reviews about the complexity of using honey. But, after I've already used honey once, how will using a different sugar effect the beer? Will it even have a large impact on the flavour?
 

SkippyWilliams

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I am a fan of Honey as a primer. I have mainly used Honey and with great success. I have tried corn sugar and carb tabs, but quickly went back to Honey.
 

bleme

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I would use honey, calculated using Northern Brewer, because I like to do my own thing. I also realize that it won't always turn out perfect and I have only myself to blame. I'm OK with that.
 

Golddiggie

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Here's the priming calculation tool/site I used to use when bottling. You can also take the amount of priming sugar you should use (determined by one of the sites) and use 1.25x that in honey (ALWAYS by weight). So, if the site calls for 4oz of sugar to hit your CO2 volumes level (after you provide it with the needed info), you can use 5oz of honey to get the same CO2 volumes (or close enough to not make a difference).

I would advise aiming for the middle CO2 volumes range for a style. That way, if the honey has a lower sugar concentration, you won't be under carbonated. By the same token, if it has a higher sugar concentration, you won't be over carbonated.

I've also had solid results using raw cane sugar instead of the normal corn sugar provided with kits, or sold by virtually all HBS' for priming.
 

Calichusetts

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I only prime with honey and have never gotten a bottle bomb or infection. Just mix the honey in some hot water and be sure to really mix it...dump it in the bottling bucket and your good to go. Honey usually takes an extra week or so to carb up. And the type of honey you use will affect any flavor you are looking to add to the brew. Hope this helps.
 

Sir Humpsalot

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I generally discourage people from priming with honey. There's nothing wrong with it. I've done it myself. BUT...

The overall amount is small. It's not going to make a huge difference to flavor. If you are banking on it to make your beer better in one way or another, you could just add it to primary or secondary.

And it does take longer to carb. And if you're willing to wait longer for it to carb, why didn't you just add it to primary, wait for it to take longer to ferment, and then use dextrose to bottle?

And as for those extra risks (infection, variables as to the sugar content, etc), what are you gaining for accepting those variables? Nothing that wouldn't be gained by using the same honey in secondary.

The thing about carbing with honey is that it is kind of novel to new brewers, it IS interesting and cool, and it's a nice conversation piece about your beer. But I think it's a phase that brewers grow out of, unless they are really trying to play the "all natural unprocessed ingredients" card... but even in that case, I'd still argue that using DME, or wort, kind of makes more sense if you are brewing on a regular basis, or have access to malt extract, a stove, and a small pot.

But with that said, I know you are going to try it with honey. You won't be able to resist. You want to see for yourself. And that's cool. I've done it too. I don't think it's bad at all. But there are so many bigger variables to contend with, I think you will eventually come to the conclusion after doing it a few times that it just adds a little more hassle and risk without any real additional reward. My *opinion* on it is that there are bigger achievements to be had in brewing than achieving CO2 from honey. Just get that darned beer carbed as quick and easy as possible and start working on refining your recipes!
 

Calichusetts

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I generally discourage people from priming with honey. There's nothing wrong with it. I've done it myself. BUT...

The overall amount is small. It's not going to make a huge difference to flavor. If you are banking on it to make your beer better in one way or another, you could just add it to primary or secondary.

And it does take longer to carb. And if you're willing to wait longer for it to carb, why didn't you just add it to primary, wait for it to take longer to ferment, and then use dextrose to bottle?

And as for those extra risks (infection, variables as to the sugar content, etc), what are you gaining for accepting those variables? Nothing that wouldn't be gained by using the same honey in secondary.

The thing about carbing with honey is that it is kind of novel to new brewers, it IS interesting and cool, and it's a nice conversation piece about your beer. But I think it's a phase that brewers grow out of, unless they are really trying to play the "all natural unprocessed ingredients" card... but even in that case, I'd still argue that using DME, or wort, kind of makes more sense if you are brewing on a regular basis, or have access to malt extract, a stove, and a small pot.

But with that said, I know you are going to try it with honey. You won't be able to resist. You want to see for yourself. And that's cool. I've done it too. I don't think it's bad at all. But there are so many bigger variables to contend with, I think you will eventually come to the conclusion after doing it a few times that it just adds a little more hassle and risk without any real additional reward. My *opinion* on it is that there are bigger achievements to be had in brewing than achieving CO2 from honey. Just get that darned beer carbed as quick and easy as possible and start working on refining your recipes!
I have to disagree with nearly everything in this. First off, you will get some flavor, and it is suppose to be subtle. It depends on type of honey more than anything. Its a great way to add a small complexity to the brew, especially lighter beers

Next, there is virtually no risk of infection, I'm coming up on 100 batches primed with honey without any issues. And as long as you whirlpool in your beer, even carbonation is easily achieved. No real hassle

I only want a hint of honey, priming gets it done, I was never a fan of honey malt. Its no more hassle to use honey than anything else. Warm it up, mix, then bottle. And nearly every beer gets better with age. Even if your only waiting a week or two longer on an IPA, its usually worth it...so honey helps you with patience as well.

Hope you don't think I'm jumping all over the post and I too agree its just my opinion but I wouldn't deter the effort. Experimentation is everything, even if they do move on to other ways to prime.
 

Sir Humpsalot

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I have to disagree with nearly everything in this.
Nothing wrong with that!

First off, you will get some flavor, and it is suppose to be subtle.
But it's more or less the same subtle flavor that you get by adding it to secondary. And given that the sugar content is more variable in honey than in granulated sugars, why deal with that extra variable? What are you gaining by holding back the honey until bottling time? And if you really know your recipe, and you taste it in secondary and decide it'd be better with a bit of honey, at that point, you can add any quantity of honey that you think suits the recipe. The opportunity for choosing the quantity of honey is completely wide open. 2 more ounces in a 5 gallon batch? That's fine. a pound? No problem. 10 pounds? 20 pounds? Sure! Add it in secondary. But if you are using it to prime, then you are locked into (more or less) the precise quantity necessary for good carbonation. So you are actually limiting your options for producing your ideal tasty brew if you commit yourself to priming with it.

It depends on type of honey more than anything. Its a great way to add a small complexity to the brew, especially lighter beers
Adding it to secondary is an equally great way to add a small complexity to the brew.

Next, there is virtually no risk of infection, I'm coming up on 100 batches primed with honey without any issues. And as long as you whirlpool in your beer, even carbonation is easily achieved. No real hassle
Indeed. No real hassle. Not any better, or worse, than adding it to secondary. Except that it carbs slower and you are restricted to a very small range of potential quantities to add at that time without risking bottle bombs.

I only want a hint of honey, priming gets it done...
So would adding the same amount of honey to secondary.

I was never a fan of honey malt.
Me neither. Ick! :mug:

Its no more hassle to use honey than anything else. Warm it up, mix, then bottle. And nearly every beer gets better with age.
So you are promoting using honey specifically because it slows down the carbonation process? Not bottling it for another week will get you the exact same result. Actually, batch aging works faster than bottle aging, so it'd technically probably be a bit superior to leave it in secondary a bit longer if that were the case, though the difference is probably negligible.

Even if your only waiting a week or two longer on an IPA, its usually worth it...so honey helps you with patience as well.

Hope you don't think I'm jumping all over the post and I too agree its just my opinion but I wouldn't deter the effort. Experimentation is everything, even if they do move on to other ways to prime.
I won't deter the effort. As I said, I did it myself. I think every brewer has. And it's a cool talking point to say that the beer was refermented with honey. It sounds sexy. It makes you feel like you accomplished something. But really, you would have had more flexibility if you looked to add it in primary or secondary. To my mind, it's sort of like a marketing gimmick. It sounds good, but when you really analyze it, there's a better option... and that option isn't avoiding honey, but rather adding honey (if desired) at a point when you have more flexibility in how much you choose to add.
 

Calichusetts

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Like I said, no right or wrong, just different suggestions. I don't even tell people I use honey to carb it and I don't really see people selling it as some amazing addition. Valid points...secondary or bottle, same idea. Like I said, I don't want a "honey beer" just a touch. So priming works.

I've never had an issue with sugar variations or anything like that, you still using a decent amount of honey and diluting it pretty well, at least I've never seen a bottle bomb from this.
 

Chromebrew

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Ive been using honey quite a bit lately, just because its easy to measure, quick to use, ferments complete and i always have it on hand. I havent noticed prolonged bottle carbing... but im not pumping out batches either. I just love how theres so many ways to skin this cat :D
 
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