Beer with honey

The honey and top fermenting sugars present in honey beer are responsible for this drink, which has a sweeter taste, but also a much higher alcohol content. Cloudy, with a dry finish and spicy flavors, this is what Honey Beers are like, the famous beers with honey.

Honey has been a prized ingredient in beer making since time immemorial. This flower nectar is a very stable product, with a very high water content and great beneficial properties for the human body. It is an ingredient with soothing properties, used to treat the aches and pains of allergies, coughs and also to prevent coronary and digestive problems.

In brewing, honey provides a large amount of fermentable and non-fermentable sugars, so in addition to increasing the volume of alcohol, it creates a whole series of sweet flavors . In this way, the final product has much more body, with more natural aromas and flavors , ranging from the most balsamic to the most complex ones reminiscent of smoked foods. This characteristic is due to the origin of the honey, for example, chestnut honey is capable of producing flavors reminiscent of wood, while rosemary will provide spicy and somewhat smoky notes.

In this sense, honey and beers have gone hand in hand since the Neolithic. The prayers to Ninkasi, the Sumerian goddess of beer, already narrated the elaboration of this drink and, in that atavistic recipe, honey was already included as an ingredient . In fact, traces of honey were found in beer glasses found in the tomb of the mythical King Midas. 

Is beer the same as mead?

The answer is no. Mead is a different type of alcoholic drink , made with a base of honey and water. In this sense, mead usually contains a mixture of grape musts or other fruits. Therefore, the final flavor is usually similar to that of sweet wines , although slightly sweeter. In this sense, mead is not made with brewer’s yeast either, but wine yeast is used.

The characteristics of beer with honey

The beer obtained following the recipe presented below must have the following characteristics:

  • Original gravity: 1051.
  • Final Gravity: 1009.
  • Processing time: 4 weeks.
  • Alcohol volume: 5.6%.
  • Bitterness index: 11.6 IBU.
  • Colour: 9.1 EBC.

The Honey Beer Recipe

In a nutshell, honey beers are brewed in the same way as a traditional beer , with the only difference being that honey is added during the last stage of the boil. In this sense, it is a recipe that admits many variations such as the incorporation of low or high fermentation yeasts, as well as all kinds of malts, both toasted and pale.

The recipe presented below is designed to make 23 liters. For this the necessary ingredients will be:

  • 4.4 kg of malt.
  • 33 g of Hallertauer Hersbrucker hops. In this sense, 22 g should be added at the beginning of the boil, 5 g when there are five minutes left to cook, and 6 g at the end of the boil.
  • Protofolc or Irish moss.
  • High fermentation yeast.
  • 38 g of coriander seeds.
  • 500 g of honey.
  • 16 g of bitter orange peel.

How to Make Honey Beer

Now that you know all the necessary ingredients with which to make this type of beer, we are going to explain step by step how it is done. Although before, we want to remind you that honey can contain its own yeasts (wild yeasts), as well as other microorganisms that can affect the flavor and final quality of the beer. To avoid problems in this regard, it is important that this ingredient is added before the boiling process is complete. In this way, if the honey boils for a few minutes, it will be sterilized and its flavor will not be lost.

Let’s see how to make beer with honey step by step:

  • To start, the malt, which can be pale or roasted, must be added to 11 liters of water. You have to let the malt macerate for an hour at 65 degrees. The final product will be the first must of the beer, which will have a sweet taste.
  • Next, add another 27 liters of water to the must and bring it to a boil. When the mixture starts to boil, the first phase of hops must be added, as well as the rest of the necessary ingredients. The total boiling time of the liquid will be one hour and ten minutes. In this sense, it is very important that the ingredients are added at the right time.
  • Once this process is finished, the must must be transferred to the fermenter. Once it cools, you should start introducing the yeast. It is possible that the fermentation is somewhat longer than usual in beer. Nothing happens, this is because honey has a higher concentration of sugar, so this process will take longer.
  • Finally, it must be left to mature for 3 weeks (or more, if necessary) at 12 degrees.

On the other hand, if you prefer to use malt extract instead of natural malts, the brewing process will be the same. However, instead of adding the malts along with the water, you will need to use 2.7 kilos of extracts (for 27 liters of water). The rest of the recipe will not change.

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