If you stick to the recipe your homemade honey beer will turn out yellow or amber with a delicate floral aroma, light hints of hops, lush foam and bitter aftertaste. It’s hard to compare its taste with other beverages. You’ll have to try it at least once.
The method of brewing beer from honey is simpler than traditional brewing since it does not require saccharification of malt (as it’s not used at all). This eliminates the need to adhere to a narrow temperature range during brewing. We will set aside disputes on whether you can consider a beverage without malt a beer. Honey wort is called “honey and water.”
The following recipe was built upon the technology proposed in the book “Mead brewing or the art of making beverages from honey and fruits” by Professor T. Tseselskii, published in 1906. The characteristics of hops and yeast have been specified, and the stage of carbonization and aging has been added.
- Honey – 1 liter
- Water – 8 liters
- Hops (alpha acidity 4.5%) – 0.4 oz/10 grams
- Brewer’s yeast (top fermentation) – 0.2 oz/5 grams
It is advisable to use fresh floral or buckwheat honey. The amount of hop is approximate and depends on the desired bitterness. If you don’t have any experience of brewing go by the proportions and alpha acidity specified in the recipe. In this case, the bitterness will be just below the average (for my liking). You should use only brewer’s yeast. Using bakers or distillers yeast will result in wash, not beer.
Top fermentation yeast can be replaced by bottom fermentation yeast, but then you’ll have to maintain the temperature (step 10) in 5-16°C range.
In order not to infect the wort with foreign microorganisms all used tools and containers must be boiled for safety or sterilised in any other way beforehand.
Honey Beer Recipe
- If necessary liquefy sugared honey: leave a honey jar in warm water for 25-40 minutes.
- Boil 8 liters of water in a boiling vessel (the recommended volume for the recipe proportions is no less than 15 liters).
- Slowly pour liquid honey into boiling water while constantly stirring to make a homogeneous mass and prevent honey particles from sticking to the bottom or sides of the saucepan.
- After the honey is fully dissolved, measure the initial volume of the wort (remember it or put a note on the saucepan exterior).
- Boil the honey solution for 60 minutes without a lid on medium heat, constantly skimming the froth.
- Pour some boiled water to get the initial volume, compensating the losses from evaporation. Add hops and mix.
- Boil for another 60 minutes. Don’t skim the froth for the first 30 minutes to let the wort better absorb the hops. You can skim the froth during the last 30 minutes. Pour some boiling water to bring the volume to the initial state.
The total boiling time is 2 hours after the boiling starts: 1 hour of wort boiling and another 1 hour of boiling wort with hops.
- Cool the honey solution to 18-22°C as soon as possible to avoid contamination with pathogenic microorganisms. If you don’t have any special brewing equipment you can dip the saucepan into a bathroom with cold water or ice.
- After cooling, filter the wort through sterile gauze to remove the remnants of hops, and then transfer it to the fermentation vessel. At least 20% of the volume should be left empty for foam and carbon dioxide. Add the diluted brewer’s yeast (top fermentation yeast for this recipe), and then mix.
- Transfer the fermentation vessel to a dark room (and cover it) with a unvarying temperature of 24-25°C. Install a water seal of any design on a bottleneck. Leave it for 7-9 days.
Plastic fermentation tank with airlock
Active fermentation will begin in 8-12 hours and will last up to 5 days. Then the intensity will subside, and after 7-9 days it will stop altogether: the water seal will stop emitting gas, the beer will become lighter, and a layer of sediment will appear at the bottom.
- Add 1 teaspoon of honey, dextrose or sugar (the worst option) in each storage bottle (plastic or glass) per liter of volume. It’s required for carbonization – the process of saturation of the drink with carbon dioxide as a result of repeated fermentation. Thanks to carbonization the beverage will have thick foam, and its taste will improve.
- Pour the honey beer from the sediment through a tube into prepared bottles (fill them up to 2 cm before the bottleneck) and hermetically seal them.
- Transfer the filled bottles into a dark room with a temperature of 20-24°C and leave them there for 10-12 days.
- Honey beer is ready, but the beverage is still slightly harsh and bitter. To improve the taste, you should put it into a refrigerator or basement for 25-30 days of maturation.
The color depends on the type of honey. Depicted on the photo is buckwheat honey beer
At a temperature of 3-16°C, the shelf life is 5-6 months. An open bottle should be consumed within one day.