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Adding honey to brews

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TimT

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May 3, 2013
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For a while I'd thought there was really only two ways to add honey to beer - chuck it in when you boil the wort and stir to dissolve, or make a honey-water solution and add it to the beer when the fermentation is at its peak.

Now just two days ago I read in Randy Mosher of another way.... add the honey at secondary fermentation as a way of retaining more of the honey character - ie, delicate fragrances, aromas, etc that might get lost in the primary fermentation or the boil.

By Jove, I think he's right! And I'd like to try this. Only.... I suspect this might be more dangerous and unpredictable than the first two ways, because the yeast will have already adapted for one type of sugar, and been working for a while, and be exhausted by the amount of alcohol already in the beer. It's often said honey takes ages to ferment (indeed, I said that myself when giving a presentation on honey brewing recently at my bee group). I suspect this would be *very* true if you add the honey to the beer this late, at secondary fermentation.

Has anyone tried this?
 

loveofrose

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Nov 9, 2012
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Honey is considered a simple sugar in the context of beer wort (read nutrient rich). As a result, many people add honey is secondary to prevent the yeast from "getting lazy " and going for simple sugar instead of the more complex malt sugars.

Also, many folks trying to push ABV tolerance in beer will add 1 oz of sugar or honey a day to constantly give the yeast a sugar boost to push through. This would be during primary fermentation usually, but it can be done in secondary if your yeast aren't spent.


Better brewing through science!
 

TimT

NewBee
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May 3, 2013
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It kind of makes sense - like adding fruit or adjuncts in the secondary, which is also common practice.

A lot depends what you mean by "simple", of course. Yeast will ferment malt sugars pretty rapidly; honey can take much longer.
 

Honeyhog

NewBee
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Oct 6, 2013
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A lot depends what you mean by "simple", of course. Yeast will ferment malt sugars pretty rapidly; honey can take much longer.
That's why honey takes longer to ferment on it's own is because it is a simple sugar and doesn't have all the other nutrients yeast needs to flourish like a beer wort would.
 

TimT

NewBee
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May 3, 2013
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But also some of the sugars in honey just give the yeast problems. As I read it the yeast gobbles up the sucrose and glucose but take ages on the fructose - which is one reason why you can ferment some wines out within weeks on simple cooking sugar but you have to take more time and patience with mead.
 

smertz001

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Nov 13, 2012
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I've always added honey during secondary, just straight in without heating or boiling. Gently mix it up so not to aerate the wort too much, I figure a little bit isn't a problem as I'm kicking up the yeast activity and they will clean up the O2 quickly.

I've never had a problem with it. This is also how I go about making my braggots. I start the grain wort fermenting, then when it slows/stops I add the honey to help preserve the honey flavours and aromas quite nicely.

And of course I also use honey to prime my beverages when I want them carbonated. No heating there either, just measure it out and dump it in and mix it up... No problems here either.

Cheers!
-- Steve
 

bathtub brewer

NewBee
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Nov 19, 2014
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I have used honey in beer making. I usually add the honey in prior to fermentation. After boiling the wort but while it is still hot. Mostly because I thought it needed to be pasteurized.
I made a delicious honey pecan beer a while back.
 

EJM3

Honey Master
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Nov 21, 2013
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But also some of the sugars in honey just give the yeast problems. As I read it the yeast gobbles up the sucrose and glucose but take ages on the fructose - which is one reason why you can ferment some wines out within weeks on simple cooking sugar but you have to take more time and patience with mead.
Sucrose is a disaccharide consisting of glucose-fructose bonded pairs. And yeast LOVE fructose, that is the main sugar in most fruit. here is a quote I found:

"Natural Sugars Found in Apples. All fruit contains a variety of naturalsugars in different proportions and ratios. Fructose -- also called fruit sugar -- is the most prevalent, although some sucrose and glucose are typically present, especially in sweeter fruits"

I forget the order but most yeast go for the glucose, fructose, first, and leave things like lactose alone.
 
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