This is one of Charlie Papazian’s most popular homebrew recipes. “It’s a classic,” Papazian shared with Zymurgy magazine. “Hundreds of homebrewers have won awards in competitions for their renditions of this beer.”
The honey lager takes it’s name from a track of the same name on The Beatle’s White Album. The song was an earworm of Charlie’s ever since his parents brought him back the record from England in 1968. “To this day, [“Rocky Raccoon”] is high in my humming repertoire.”
Rocky Raccoon’s Honey Lager | Premium American Lager
- 5.75 lb. (2.6 kg) Pilsner malt
- 2.5 lb. (1.13 kg) Honey added after boiling is finished. Do not boil honey. (Choose a honey known for its perfume-like floral aroma and flavor, such as orange blossom, basswood, linden tree, tropical climate honey, etc.)
- 1 oz. (28 g) Cascade hops, 5% a.a. (60 min)
- 0.5 oz. (14 g) Aramis, Mt. Hood, Santiam, or U.S. Tettnang hop pellets (dry hop)
- 0.25 oz. (7 g) dried aromatic jasmine flowers (optional), added during dry hopping
- 0.25 tsp. (1 g) powdered Irish moss
- American lager yeast, Pilsner-type yeast, American ale yeast, or White Labs Cry Havoc yeast
- 6 oz. (170 g) corn sugar for priming bottles, or 2.6 oz. (74 g) corn sugar for kegging
- Original Gravity: 1.050 (12.5 B)
- Final Gravity: 1.008 (2 B)
- ABV: 5.5%
- IBU: ~23
- SRM: 4
A step infusion mash is employed to mash the grains. Add 6 quarts (5.7 L) of 140° F (60° C) water to the crushed grain, stir, stabilize, and hold the temperature at 132° F (56° C) for 30 minutes. Add 3 quarts (3 L) of boiling water and add heat to bring temperature up to 155° F (68° C) and hold for about 30 minutes. Then raise temperature to 167° F (75° C), lauter, and sparge with 3.5 gallons (13.5 L) of 170° F (77° C) water. Collect about 5.5 gallons (21 L) of runoff. Add 60-minute hops and bring to a full and vigorous boil.
The total boil time will be 60 minutes. When 10 minutes remain, add the Irish moss. After a total wort boil of 60 minutes, turn off the heat, stir in the honey, and place the pot (with cover on) in a running cold-water bath for 30 minutes, or use other methods to chill wort. Then strain and sparge the wort into a sanitized fermenter. Bring the total volume to 5 gallons (19 L) with additional cold water if necessary. Aerate the wort very well.
Pitch the yeast when temperature of wort is about 70° F (21° C). Once visible signs of fermentation are evident, ferment at a temperature around 55° F (12.5° C) for about one week, or until fermentation shows signs of calm and stopping. Rack from primary to secondary and add the hop pellets and optional Jasmine flowers for dry hopping. If you have the capability, “lager” the beer at temperatures between 35 and 45° F (1.5–7° C) for 3 to 6 weeks.
Original Extract Version
The following is the original Rocky Raccoon Honey Lager recipe from The Complete Joy of Homebrewing (4th Edition) by Charlie Papazian.
- Original Gravity: 1.048 - 1.052 (12 - 13 B)
- Final Gravity: 1.004 - 1.008 (1 - 2 B)
- Bitterness: 23 IBU
- Color: 4 SRM
- Alcohol: 5.8% by volume
Ingredients for 5 gallons (18.9 L):
- 3.5 lb. (1.6 kg) plain extra-light dried malt extract
- 2.5 lb. (1.1 kg) light clover honey
- 1.5 oz. (42 g) Cascade hops (60 minutes), or try 2 oz. (56 g) Saaz for a Pilsner-like character
- 0.5 oz. (14 g) Cascade hops (finishing)
- 0.25 tsp. (1 g) Irish moss
- American lager, Pilsner-type yeast, American Ale yeast, or White Labs Cry Havoc yeast
- 6 oz. (170 g) corn sugar or 10 oz. (283 g) dried malt extract (for bottling)
Add the malt extract, honey, and boiling hops to 1½ gallons (5.7 L) of water and boil for 60 minutes. Add Irish moss for the last 10 minutes of the boil. Add the finishing hops during the final 2 to 4 minutes of boiling. Strain, sparge, and transfer immediately to 2 gallons (7.5 L) of cold water in the fermenter. Top off with additional water to make 5 gallons (19 L). Add the yeast when wort is cool, and ferment to completion. Bottle when fermentation is complete.