Author Topic: Besides more alcohol, what exactly does honey contribute?  (Read 2576 times)

Offline ccfoo242

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Besides more alcohol, what exactly does honey contribute?
« on: March 01, 2012, 12:39:05 PM »
I get various local produce delivered to my office every other week. One of the options I have is to include some locally produced honey (I'm in north Florida). So I've been wondering if there's anything I can do with that in beer.

It was always my understanding that honey in the fermentor doesn't actually contribute much, if any, flavor. Is this correct?

If I wanted to create a pale ale, or an IPA, that accentuated things that remind me of Florida (citrus, pine) I know I can get that from hops. But can I get something subtle from adding honey somewhere in the brewing process?


[edit]
Here's a picture of the honey, in case color matters:
« Last Edit: March 01, 2012, 12:43:08 PM by ccfoo242 »

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Offline BrewArk

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Re: Besides more alcohol, what exactly does honey contribute?
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2012, 01:15:44 PM »
I scored a 5 gallon pail of honey from work & was wondering the same thing.  I put a gallon of it in a ten gallon batch of porter at flame out.  The half that got the Nottingham was rather dry.  The half that got the Safale US05 had some residual sweetness & some (but not much) of the honey notes.  Mead day is coming & I'll put a mead up again this year.  That's always popular around the Brewark.
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Besides more alcohol, what exactly does honey contribute?
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2012, 11:38:48 PM »
Wildflower honey isn't going to give you much flavor and aroma when it's fermented, but you could use it to bump gravity.  Or just use it as a sweetener in your cooking.
Tom Schmidlin

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Re: Besides more alcohol, what exactly does honey contribute?
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2012, 06:02:32 AM »
I've found that honey does little in a beer other than adding points.  Its far too fermentable and the flavor and aroma are too volatile to survive to packaging and serving.  I recommend Honey Malt if you want a perception of honey-like flavor and aroma in a finished beer. 

The same thing can be said of Meads.  If you heat the must too long or too high, the opportunity for any honey flavor or aroma diminishes.
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Offline bo

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Re: Besides more alcohol, what exactly does honey contribute?
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2012, 06:05:51 AM »
I agree, save the honey for baking or pancakes.

Offline nateo

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Re: Besides more alcohol, what exactly does honey contribute?
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2012, 09:00:54 AM »
I'd use the honey for mead. I had a dry sparkling mead the other day at the Schlafly Taproom. It was awesome. All the other mead I've had tasted like awful white wine, but apparently mead doesn't have to suck. I'm planning on making some this summer. 
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Offline kmccaf

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Re: Besides more alcohol, what exactly does honey contribute?
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2012, 11:50:58 AM »
I've heard priming with honey can add some honey notes, but I've yet to do it myself. I was thinking of doing this soon, so perhaps somebody could comment on whether or not this is true?
So it goes.

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Besides more alcohol, what exactly does honey contribute?
« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2012, 11:57:52 AM »
I've heard priming with honey can add some honey notes, but I've yet to do it myself. I was thinking of doing this soon, so perhaps somebody could comment on whether or not this is true?

I've primed with honey before and have not noticed much in the way of character from that. I've primed with maple syrup and various different kinds of sugar and have not noticed much character from any of those. The amounts are just so small.

You can get some honey character by adding a significant amount to a brew but it does take a fair amount. like several pounds to a 5 gallon batch.
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Besides more alcohol, what exactly does honey contribute?
« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2012, 12:13:06 PM »
I also think it depends on the honey.

I used buckwheat honey once.  I should have tasted it first, but did not.

You could certainly taste it in the beer and I learned that I do not like the flavor of buckwheat honey.

Other people did, though, including the lady who runs the health food store where I bought the honey.  She got lots of bottles from me of that batch.
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Offline ccfoo242

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Re: Besides more alcohol, what exactly does honey contribute?
« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2012, 02:31:46 PM »
Well, I guess I'll leave it out...thanks for all the input!

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Offline pikelakehomebrew

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Re: Besides more alcohol, what exactly does honey contribute?
« Reply #10 on: March 14, 2012, 07:10:21 AM »
Well, I guess I'll leave it out...thanks for all the input!

What?! Giving up so soon?  Where's your sense of adventure!?   ;D

Relax, have a home brew, and run a few tests of your own in smaller one-, two- or three-gallon glass carboys — that way you're not out a full batch of beer.  It's true you'll need a larger amount of honey to bring in the flavor, but there are plenty of craft brewers out there that do use honey (Bell's immediately comes to mind with their Hop Slam).

Don't cry retreat too quickly.  Do listen to the advice you get, but don't let it inhibit you from being a little adventurous in your brewing either.   ;)
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Offline ccfoo242

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Re: Besides more alcohol, what exactly does honey contribute?
« Reply #11 on: March 14, 2012, 07:31:23 AM »
I get some of that honey tomorrow, so I'll get to see how strong the flavor is. I'm sure I'll try something eventually, though.

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Offline jmcamerlengo

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Re: Besides more alcohol, what exactly does honey contribute?
« Reply #12 on: March 15, 2012, 11:10:49 AM »
I've made a honey wheat with 2 lbs of orange blossom honey per 5 gallons and a 1/4 lb of honey malt. I rather enjoyed it! I'd be hard pressed to tell you if the honey malt gave me more of a honey flavor than the honey itself but I could definitely pick up some of the citrus notes from the orange blossom honey, and it dried it out and made it pretty darn refreshing.
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Offline Pinski

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Re: Besides more alcohol, what exactly does honey contribute?
« Reply #13 on: March 15, 2012, 11:17:44 AM »
I made a honey pale with three pounds of orange blossom honey that definitely had some residual sweetness and significant honey notes.  This did fade with time and in my opinion improved to a very nice beer.  Your gonna need more than a pint of honey with mild character though, otherwise yeah you're just adding sugar/dryness.
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