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When to add honey?

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by afrokaze, Sep 12, 2012.

  1. afrokaze

    afrokaze Advocate (620) California Jun 12, 2009

    I'm brewing a "hoppy" saison with some really high quality local wildflower honey. It has a great floral aroma and taste, and I'd like to keep those intact as much as possible so when would be the best time to add it during the boil? I'm assuming later in the boil, but I'd love to get any opinions from those with more experience than I, as this is only my second batch. Here's my recipe, it's an adaptation of Northern Brewer's Surly CynicAle partial-mash kit. My intention is a floral, spicy dry saison with the floral aroma and kick from the Amarillo dry hop. Thanks, cheers!


    OG 1.053
    FG 1.008
    IBU 37
    ABV 6 %
    5 Gallons
    Mash @ 148


    1.00# Belgian Pils 0.63 Rolled Oats 0.63 German Acid Malt 0.63 Belgian Aromatic 6.00 Light Malt Extract Syrup
    1.00 Honey

    0.25 oz Styrian Golding - FWH
    0.25 Columbus @ 60
    0.25 Comlubus @ 30
    0.25 Columbus @ 15
    0.25 Amarillo @ 10
    0.25 Amarillo @ 5
    1.75 Styrian Golding @ 0
    0.50 Amarillo @ 0
    0.25 Columbus @ 0
    1 oz Amarillo dry hop for 7 days






     
  2. MaxSpang

    MaxSpang Advocate (515) Ohio Jan 28, 2011

    I would add the honey at flameout. That should keep some of the more subtle flavors and aromas, and it should kill anything that may be in it.
     
  3. Homebrew42

    Homebrew42 Savant (425) New York Dec 20, 2006

    If you want to keep the flavor and aroma as intact as possible then don't boil the honey at all, add it at flamout or during cooling, or some people even like to add it during primary.
     
    MaxSpang likes this.
  4. telejunkie

    telejunkie Savant (340) Vermont Sep 14, 2007

    i'll say toss it in during active fermentation. You could heat it up to 170F for a couple minutes to pasteurize it before doing so, but unless you're planning on extended aging, there shouldn't be a problem....even extended aging has very low risk.
     
    Jabartheljr likes this.
  5. Agree.

    Also, that is looking pretty heavy on the late hops for a beer that you want honey aromatics from. Looks tasty though!

    EDIT: What yeast are you going to use BTW?
     
  6. I live to even wait until after primary is pretty much complete, all of the CO2 production during primary has a tendency to scrub out the volatile aromatics.

    I think honey variety and quality are big issues too. The honey from fruit trees are great.

    Sounds delicious, good luck!
     
    nanobrew and MrOH like this.
  7. pweis909

    pweis909 Advocate (705) Wisconsin Aug 13, 2005

    My use of honey has been limited to several meads and one braggot; honey has always been 50% of the fermentables or greater in my experience. I never used a 1# addition and do not know whether you can expect to get much honey character out of one. The small amount suggests that OldSock's advise to add as primary is winding down may be especially valuable.
     
  8. Is there any risk of infection (e.g., wild yeast or other microorganisms) of adding honey to the primary?

    Cheers!
     
  9. barfdiggs

    barfdiggs Savant (420) California Mar 22, 2011

    My only infected beer came about adding it after primary ferm was done. I've since switched to adding at flameout/whirlpool with no problems.
     
  10. VikeMan

    VikeMan Advocate (740) Pennsylvania Jul 12, 2009

    Very little. Honey has antibacterial properties.
     
  11. VikeMan

    VikeMan Advocate (740) Pennsylvania Jul 12, 2009

    My vote would be for flameout or high krausen. Very low risk of infection, and better preservation of flavor/aroma as compared to boiling.
     
    inchrisin likes this.
  12. Homebrew42

    Homebrew42 Savant (425) New York Dec 20, 2006

    In over a decade of making mead by simply mixing raw honey, yeast nutrient, and yeast into room temp water I have yet to experience a single infection. Take that for what it's worth.
     
  13. Homebrew42, do you do anything to sterilize the water, or do you just use water straight from the tap? Would be tempted to boil water and let it cool back to room temperature, myself.
     
  14. afrokaze

    afrokaze Advocate (620) California Jun 12, 2009

    Forgot to mention that, the kit came with Wyeast 3522 - Belgian Ardennes. From what I've read in other homebrew forums it's pretty well suited to what I want as long as I keep it on the lower end of its temp range.
     
  15. afrokaze

    afrokaze Advocate (620) California Jun 12, 2009

    Thanks all for the advice, I'll definitely go with it at flameout. As mentioned above, anyone familiar with Wyeast 3522?
     
  16. inchrisin

    inchrisin Savant (435) Indiana Sep 25, 2008

    This approach would work. Most wine recipes advise adding a campden tablet and to let it sit for a while before adding fruits or honey. I think you'd want to do this to remove cholamines anyway.
     
  17. MrOH

    MrOH Savant (465) Maryland Jul 5, 2010

    I agree with this, I've added honey in 1-2# amounts in several beers, but the only times I've really gotten a nice honey flavor (even in hoppy beers) was after the krausen was starting to recede.
     
  18. afrokaze

    afrokaze Advocate (620) California Jun 12, 2009

    Thanks all for the help, brew day went smooth and the sample I tried yesterday had an awesome floral honey aroma and the taste was noticeable, although I'm sure most of that will ferment out. Cheers!
     
  19. FATC1TY

    FATC1TY Moderator (640) Georgia Feb 12, 2012 Staff Member


    Good points, but even when primary has stopped, once you add the honey, it will start fermentation again anyways, so it doesn't really matter.
     
  20. Not really. It is still better to have only the amount of fermentation generated by the honey scrubbing the aromatics, rather than the amount created by the honey and the malt. Even a fairly aggressive amount of honey will only be 15-20% of the total fermentables.
     
  21. FATC1TY

    FATC1TY Moderator (640) Georgia Feb 12, 2012 Staff Member


    Uhhh.. If you add honey to the beer with yeast still active, it will eat the sugars of honey... It's almost entirely fermentable sugar.. Over 90%. It's still going to produce Co2 as it starts to ferment and eat the sugars. While I agree that it's better to have just the honey kick start the beer, fermentation is still fermentation.
     
  22. VikeMan

    VikeMan Advocate (740) Pennsylvania Jul 12, 2009

    I think what Oldsock was trying to say is that the second fermentation with just the honey would be less violent than the fermentation of the wort plus the honey at the same time. Therefore less scrubbing away of aromas. I think I agree with him.
     
  23. FATC1TY

    FATC1TY Moderator (640) Georgia Feb 12, 2012 Staff Member


    I understand that, and said I can agree that it seems like the right idea, but when it gets down to it, violent or not.. It'll still ferment almost all the way out.
     
  24. VikeMan

    VikeMan Advocate (740) Pennsylvania Jul 12, 2009

    I'm not sure I'm following. The sugars in honey are extremely close to 100% fermentable. The aroma in honey does not come from the sugars, and the compounds that produce the aromas do not ferment.
     
  25. Exactly! The goal is to ferment the sugars of the honey without getting destroying or scrubbing out the aromatic compounds
     
  26. Homebrew42

    Homebrew42 Savant (425) New York Dec 20, 2006

    The sugar in honey is 100% fermentable, but honey is not 100% sugar, and it's the non sugar elements in honey that make it taste like honey and not just like table sugar. The same elements will flavor your beer once the sugar ferments out, you just have to be careful because those elements are volatile and delicate.

    This is why a dry mead (one with all of the sugar fermented out) tastes like mead and not like alcoholic water, because you can ferment the honey sugar out and the honey flavor is left behind.
     
  27. FATC1TY

    FATC1TY Moderator (640) Georgia Feb 12, 2012 Staff Member


    I haven't ever made mead, but have drank it. I appreciate the input. I stand corrected.. As I understood, honey will ferment out almost completely, and figured regardless of how "violent" it was.. it would ferment and wash. I've generally found that honey gets somewhat lost in the mix for the most part, but leaves a slight finish to the beer.

    Thanks for the lesson on honey today folks.
     
  28. Homebrew42

    Homebrew42 Savant (425) New York Dec 20, 2006

    It's a common misconception, people often say "honey is 100% fermentable", and this is true, but it's the sugar in honey that's fermenting, and there is non sugar stuff left behind. Grape juice for example, is also 100% fermentable, but when you ferment it to completion you're not left with no flavor, because grape juice is more than sugar.

    Honey in beer tends to get lost in the mix because people generally use small amounts of supermarket honey, which has a weak flavor to begin with, and then clobber it with hops and/or specialty grains. Try brewing a braggot that's 50% high quality raw honey (and go light and on the hops and specialty grains) and you'll definitely taste the honey.
     
    Ilanko likes this.
  29. FATC1TY

    FATC1TY Moderator (640) Georgia Feb 12, 2012 Staff Member

    Appreciate the info.. I have access to some pretty high quality, minimal process honey at my place in NC. Fantastic sourwood honey, and can even get some of the honey comb to go with it.

    I might grab a fair bit of it next year when they harvest it, and try something with the honey in it and see what I think of it.
     
  30. ninakpoole

    ninakpoole Initiate (20) Mar 9, 2013

    I am little confused about it, but can anybody tell me can honey cause any kind of infection??
    like wild yeast ,...???
    Manuka honey
     
  31. ninakpoole

    ninakpoole Initiate (20) Mar 9, 2013

    I am little confused about it but can any body tell me whether we can really use honey??
    Does it really effect??
    manuka honey
     
  32. VikeMan

    VikeMan Advocate (740) Pennsylvania Jul 12, 2009

    Honey very rarely causes any kind of infection.
     
  33. Barfdiggs posted above: “My only infected beer came about adding it after primary ferm was done. I've since switched to adding at flameout/whirlpool with no problems.”

    It is your choice whether you want to risk adding honey without boiling (heating) it.

    Cheers!
     
  34. Many mead makers do a "no heat" method of making their meads and if you peruse their forums you will be hard pressed to find discussions of infections.

    A concentrated sugar environment is a very difficult place for bad stuff to reside.

    Correlation is not causation.
     
  35. “A concentrated sugar environment is a very difficult place for bad stuff to reside.” I have read where wild yeast can ‘survive’ in honey. Does every batch of honey have wild yeast in it? I have no idea.

    “Correlation is not causation.” I can’t argue with that.

    So, I am of the opinion that honey can contain wild yeast. Will this necessarily cause a problem in a batch of beer (or mead)? I think the answer is that there is a low probability of infection by a wild yeast using honey. I personally take great pains to sanitize in my homebrewing practice. I personally will not take the chance of a wild yeast infection by using honey that isn’t boiled or heated. Each homebrewer needs to decide for themselves like I posted previously: “It is your choice whether you want to risk adding honey without boiling (heating) it.”

    Cheers!
     
    UncleEmu likes this.
  36. It must contain wild yeast. If you've ever seen how honey is harvested you'd agree (I spent a summer as an assistant apiarist). That said, so does every bucket, carboy, piece of tubing that you use (sanitizing is NOT sterilizing. 99.999% is not 100%!).

    I am of the firm belief that if I pitch the right amount of yeast (using professional pitching rates, as per Mr. Malty, yeascalc or the new one) that it will out perform and starve out the wild yeast.
     

  37. “I am of the firm belief that if I pitch the right amount of yeast (using professional pitching rates, as per Mr. Malty, yeascalc or the new one) that it will out perform and starve out the wild yeast.”

    You made your choice.

    The beauty of homebrewing: make the beers you like and make them the way you like.

    Cheers!
     
  38. I personally add honey in the fermenter after heating it to kill off any bacteria or yeast that my be present
     
  39. pweis909

    pweis909 Advocate (705) Wisconsin Aug 13, 2005

    Honey is a harsh environment for microbes, so their populations are very low. The honey gets diluted, and these microbes could thrive, accept that they must compete with yeast, which start with superior numbers thanks to your appropriately selected pitching rate. This competitive advantage allows the yeast an opportunity to change the environment to one in which those microbes still can't thrive - high alcohol and lower pH. This is the general model for why unboiled honey rarely results in infection.
     
    kjyost likes this.
  40. I can't seem to find any info about it, but I was thinking of mixing a little everclear in with honey to sterilize it, then add it to primary. Would this work or would the high alcohol concentration destroy the honey flavors? As with the OP, I have some high quality local honey I'm picking up today, and really want to get the most flavor I can out of it.
     

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