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What is the point of adding honey during the boil? What flavour it will bring?

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Miles_1111

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I noticed a recipe posted nywww.homebrewersassociation.org last week. It is a Columbus PA belowed. Just wondering what the point is by adding honey during the boil? What flavour it will bring? It is definately not aiming to increase the alcohol, right? Since it is a pale ale of less than 6% ABV, not like strong beer who needs to add addtional sugar to boost OG.

Specifications:
Original Gravity:
1.056 ABV: 5.80% IBU: 43 SRM: 6 FG: 1.012

Ingredients:
  • 8.5 lb (3.9 kg) Pale 2-Row Malt
  • 8.0 oz (227 g) Munich malt
  • 4.0 oz (113 g) Wheat malt
  • 8.0 oz (227 g) CaraVienne® malt
  • 4.0 oz (113 g) 20° L crystal malt
  • 4.0 oz (113 g) Victory malt
  • 8.0 oz (227 g) Orange blossom honey (added during the boil)
  • 0.5 oz (14 g) Columbus whole hops, 13.9% a.a. (60 min)
  • 0.5 oz (14 g) Columbus whole hops, 13.9% a.a. (15 min)
  • 0.5 oz (14 g) Columbus whole hops, 13.9% a.a. (5 min)
  • 1.0 oz (28 g) Columbus whole hops, 13.9% a.a. (0 minutes)
  • 1.5 oz (43 g) Centennial whole hops, 10.9% a.a. (dry)
  • White Labs WLP051 California V Ale, Wyeast 1272 American Ale II, Safale US-05 Ale, or Danstar BRY-97
 

MrPhyr

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Honey is like 95% fermentable sugar so yes the primary reason to add it in a boil is to increase alcohol content. Can't speak to other considerations as I have not used it before.
 

D.B.Moody

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Boiling supposedly drives off most of honey's flavor, but it does make a difference where the sugars are coming from. I've only used honey once in a beer, and I wasn't impressed by what it added to a beer recipe I often used. On the other hand it was thistle honey, and of the three times I brewed Barkshack Gingermaed the one with thistle honey ranked lowest. The one made with orange blossom honey was absolutely excellent. That recipe you're asking about has a lot of presumably thoughtful additions to the base malt each adding something.
 

thehaze

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Like MrPhyr said above, honey is almost entirely fermentable, which means it will be converted into alcohol. Honey flavour is hard to trap into a beer. Adding it in the last 5 minutes of the boil, would possibly add some flavour, but I would think it will be proeminent in a light lager/ale sort of beer. In an IPA, it will just not be there. Adding it during fermentation, could also work, but then again, it will get fermented.

Honey malt is said to add some honey flavour.
 

VikeMan

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When trying to retain honey flavor/aroma in a beer, the later you add it, the better. e.g.:

high krausen > flameout > late boil > early boil

But no matter when you add it, it's not going to add sweetness, which of course is the major flavor component of honey. (ETA: Unless we're talking about back sweetening, or a big mead whose yeast hits the wall before finishing.)
 
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Miles_1111

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That recipe you're asking about has a lot of presumably thoughtful additions to the base malt each adding something.
Any idea what the CaraVienne malt add to the beer?
 
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Miles_1111

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When trying to retain honey flavor/aroma in a beer, the later you add it, the better. e.g.:

high krausen > flameout > late boil > early boil

But no matter when you add it, it's not going to add sweetness, which of course is the major flavor component of honey. (ETA: Unless we're talking about back sweetening, or a big mead whose yeast hits the wall before finishing.)
Unfortunately the recipe did not tell when to add during boil, but I bet it must be a late boil, since this PA does not need honey to boost OG, so it must be for the flavour purpose. One question is if I add at last 5 mins, will the honey have enought time to completely dissolve in the boiling wort?
 

VikeMan

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One question is if I add at last 5 mins, will the honey have enought time to completely dissolve in the boiling wort?
Sure, assuming you stir it a little as you add it. And maybe even if you don't, depending on the boil.
 

D.B.Moody

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Any idea what the CaraVienne malt add to the beer?
Well, that's why I said "presumably thoughtful." I have no idea what CaraVienna is, but the recipe maker apparently does, and that person specified orange blossom honey which is superior in my experience.
 

VikeMan

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Any idea what the CaraVienne malt add to the beer?
Caravienne is a crystal malt, usually about 20L in color. It provides (IMO) a light caramelly flavor.
 
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Miles_1111

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Caravienne is a crystal malt, usually about 20L in color. It provides (IMO) a light caramelly flavor.
The 20° L crystal malt in the bills is not doing the same thing? They are both the same color (20L). What is the difference between Caravienne and 20° L crystal?
 

VikeMan

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The 20° L crystal malt in the bills is not doing the same thing?
IMO, they are, pretty much. That said, no two maltsters' 20L crystal malts are made exactly the same way, so there would be subtle differences. For example, belgian Caravienne would (IMO) be a little bit "toasty" as compared to a Briess C-20. But really, it's pretty unusual to see Caravienne and C-20 in the same recipe.
 

sharknado2

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I once added honey during the last minutes of boiling while doing the raging irish red ale from this forum and it didn't dissolved well. When I finished transfering my cold wort to the FM I noticed a lot of the honey still in the BK.

Note aside if you get your hands on some good orange blossom honey do not boil it.

If you do want to get some interesting flavors from honey into beer try caramelizing it in a direffent pot then add it into your wort.
 

thehaze

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If you intend on brewing something similar to the recipe you found above, and you want to use honey, simplify the recipe. Just go with Pale malt and some Honey malt. Then add honey on top of that. Honey, being such a subtle flavour, it will kinda get lost in there with the Munich, different Crystal malts and hops. Honey malt can add some warm, sweet notes. Add honey to the boil and maybe some at the tail of fermentation.
 

Kickass

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I like using honey in my holiday beers. I add it after flameout at about 180 degrees. I’ll confidently say that adding 8oz of orange blossom honey during the boil will be a waste and lend no additional flavor. If you want any chance of capturing that flavor in a PA, you’ll need to add it after flameout.
 

mattdee1

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I've tried all kinds of commercial "honey" beers and I've never - not once - detected anything in the taste that I could actually attribute to honey.
As such I've always just kind of written off honey in beer as a marketing gimmick. As in, its primary purpose is to appeal to the craft beer fan's sense of adventure ("woah, cool.... this beer has honey in it! I love honey!") rather than to actually do anything meaningful to the beer. Sounds like some folks here have had positive experiences with it but I don't see myself using it in beer any time soon.
 

Joggin

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I've brewed with buckwheat honey and other types in the boil at various times. Not much flavor. Read someone puts in their primary as it has anti-bacterial properties so no need to worry about infection. I've been doing that for years and never got an infection. But I notice the honey flavor, especially the darker honey like buckwheat. I like that in a spring bock I make and currently trying it in Weizenbocks.
I also use honey for bottle priming when transferring to a corny keg and have extra wort to put in some bottles. No infections there either.
I stick to raw honey so there should be more flavor hopefully.
 

bwible

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In that recipe, the 8 oz of honey is just a waste. It’s not going to contribute anything except a little tiny bit of additional alcohol, a small fraction of a percent. Its a tiny percentage of the total fermentables. It’s not going to contribute much flavor at that small amount, honey has a delicate flavor to start with, and any flavor from it will be destroyed in the boil. Not to mention it will be totally covered by all those aggressive hops. Might as well just replace that with corn sugar. Corn sugar is cheaper and will do the same thing.
 

BrewnWKopperKat

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locally sourced honey
Continuing in this thought, I did a search on "honey" in Mastering Homebrew. It was interesting to see the different flavors that honey from different continents could provide.

The book also has observations on the pros/cons of adding honey early/late in the brewing process.

It's probably not a "one side fits all" approach when trying to master homebrewing.
 

ScrewyBrewer

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Continuing in this thought, I did a search on "honey" in Mastering Homebrew. It was interesting to see the different flavors that honey from different continents could provide.

The book also has observations on the pros/cons of adding honey early/late in the brewing process.

It's probably not a "one side fits all" approach when trying to master homebrewing.
Honey from hives located in different part of a state, county or town can take on very distinct flavors. Although you pay a premium for locally sourced honey the flavor is worth the extra cost. I preheat honey so it flows better before adding it to the kettle at least ten minutes prior to flameout. This is not the only way to add the honey but it works well on my brewing setup.
 

BrewnWKopperKat

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FWIW, the recipe that OP mentions is at Columbus Pale Ale | Beer Recipe | American Homebrewers Association. The notes on that page refer to a recipe in Modern Homebrew Recipes. The recipe in Modern Homebrew Recipes includes a Sensory Description section and Formulation notes section by the author.

It should be noted that brewing salts appear to be missing from the AHA recipe while the author of Modern Homebrew Recipes provides that information.

One of the take-aways from the New IPA (book) is that people taste beer differently.

So one person's "adds some aromatics that play well" can be another persons "[it is] is just a waste".
 

pfmeyer

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I brewed Charlie P.’s Rocky Raccoon Honey Lager years ago when I first started homebrewing, and I must have been lucky or something because the beer was amazing. My friends also thought the beer was fantastic. However, if pressed I don’t think any of us at the time could have confidentially said it had a honey flavor. The addition of honey contributes its own unique flavor, and I think the potential outcome would vary significantly depending on the type of honey used. And yeast too for that matter. I used a standard early 1990’s dry ale yeast packet, probable Edme. That could have been what made the beer stand out. Who knows. I never been able to quite replicate the success of that beer again. My advice, go for it and take good notes.
 

Beenym88

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I just brewed this beer with a pound of honey at flameout and a pound of honey malt. It doesn’t taste anything like honey to me. But it’s good it was an American wheat ale I used 6 pounds wheat 6 pounds 6 pounds 2 row 1 pound honey malt one pound honey and lemon zest. I was shooting for a honey lemon taste that didn’t happen but it’s still good it took forever to ferment and came out very strong 9%. With the honey it’s was the first time I’ve had the hydrometer read below 1.01.
 

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Tobor_8thMan

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I just poured myself a glass to report on the honey in the Columbus Pale Ale. Slight orange blossom honey aroma and slight orange blossom honey flavor. This, to me, is prefect as I didn't want a Honey Pale Ale.

Actually, easy to forget about the honey in the pale ale. Last weekend I thought I was tasting something strange/unexpected (a flaw?) in the pale ale. Puzzled, I checked my brew day notes. Nothing out of the ordinary. Conditioning was standard. Fining and kegging were standard. Checking the recipe I remembered the orange blossom honey and realized this was the flavor/taste that was puzzling me :)
 

HVCBrewing

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IMO 1-2 lbs of honey will add ABV with no residual sugar and no perceivable flavor. Honey will likely ferment to completion. In contrast, grains will add ABV and residual sugar + grain flavors (depending on the grains). The honey flavor addition will be very subtle at that ratio. Depending upon the primary flavor aspects of the beer (flavor grains + hops), honey flavor will be extremely difficult to perceive. At that ratio, I wouldn’t expect to find honey flavor. You will get a bump in ABV with no residual sugar.
 

Tobor_8thMan

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IMO 1-2 lbs of honey will add ABV with no residual sugar and no perceivable flavor. Honey will likely ferment to completion. In contrast, grains will add ABV and residual sugar + grain flavors (depending on the grains). The honey flavor addition will be very subtle at that ratio. Depending upon the primary flavor aspects of the beer (flavor grains + hops), honey flavor will be extremely difficult to perceive. At that ratio, I wouldn’t expect to find honey flavor. You will get a bump in ABV with no residual sugar.
Yes, honey will ferment, but I do believe it depends on the type of honey for aroma. In this case the orange blossem honey aroma is slight and, in this case, welcome.
 

VikeMan

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IMO 1-2 lbs of honey will add ABV with no residual sugar and no perceivable flavor.
I believe honey will leave some residual sugars/dextrins, but not a lot. I did an attenuation experiment this past summer with some orange blossom honey solution. Some details:

Yeast Strain: US-05 (plus Fermaid-K)
Measured OG: 1.036
Measured FG: 0.997
Computed Apparent Attenuation: 108.3% (~88.8% Real Attenuation)

I strongly suspected I'd get something less than 100% Real Attenuation, but was surprised that it was as low as ~88.8%. Just a single data point.
 

BrewnWKopperKat

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It's hard to say much about crystal malts without taking about the specific product (20L vs 120L) and maltster (e.g. Briess vs Weyermann).

It's hard to say much about hops without mentioning when it's added (start of boil vs dry hop), the variety (Fuggles vs Citra), and often where it's grown (WA vs MI).

And the same is true of honey.

Specalty honey providers are pretty easy to find online. Honey sampler packs tend to be offered as potential holiday gifts. Construct a "honey sampler" recipe (maybe blonde ale base @ 4.5%-ish, 20 IBUs) and experiment with flavors and timings. Mastering Homebrew has additional information these experimental brews might want to confirm or refute.
 

VikeMan

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The keys (IMO) to retaining honey aroma/flavor:

- Use a flavorful honey variety
- The Raw-er the better
- Add it as late as possible
- Use a lot

One thing about using a lot of honey...this can really thin the beer, as compared to a beer of the same total effective OG that does not have any honey. When designing honey recipes, I like to add back body with maltodextrin. I did an article for BYO many years ago about this. I just looked it up and found it, but it's behind a paywall. I kind of wanted to read it again.
 

SFC Rudy

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Honey will be fermented out and you'll be left with what the bees used to make the honey. I made a Honey Amber Ale with orange blossom honey I got off of Amazon; two poiunds in a five gallon batch. I could definitely taste the orange blossoms in my beer, but two pounds was too much. Next I'll use just one pound.
 
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I recently made a Honey-Ginger IPA. There was about 1 1/2# of honey added at flameout/whirlpool, and then I primed the keg with honey as well for carbonation/spunding. It is a very subtle flavor, but it is present. It boosted the ABV, as expected, but did not leave any residual sweetness behind.
 

Dr_Jeff

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I brewed a honey triple several years ago, it was a ten gallon batch. I added about a half gallon of honey near the end of the boil and the other half gallon about 3 days into fermentation. It was strong, bottled half of it to give to the fellow that provided the honey, during bottling we drank the "spillage", we were tore up at the end of bottling. The honey was overpowering, but the fellow that provided the honey loved it. I put three bottles away. A couple of years later, I opened them up. The residual honey fermented and provided that tingley sensation characteristic of Belgian beer and was fantastic. Honey was a background taste not up front, totally spot on.
 

Tobor_8thMan

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The keys (IMO) to retaining honey aroma/flavor:

- Use a flavorful honey variety
- The Raw-er the better
- Add it as late as possible
- Use a lot

One thing about using a lot of honey...this can really thin the beer, as compared to a beer of the same total effective OG that does not have any honey. When designing honey recipes, I like to add back body with maltodextrin. I did an article for BYO many years ago about this. I just looked it up and found it, but it's behind a paywall. I kind of wanted to read it again.
VikeMan, what BYO issue? I have all of them.
 
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