Honey Nut Brown Ale

The Story

In the BC craft beer industry, nearly every brewery has some sort of honey beer. The most famous is Sleeman’s Honey Brown Lager, but there are considerably more, such as Granville Island’s Cypress Honey Lager. Perhaps including the word “honey” in a beer title makes the beer seem more accessible, as if the “honey” aspects will balance out the bitter aspects. Honey beers just always seem targeted at people who probably don’t like beer.

To feel included in this very BC phenomenon of producing honey beers, we felt the need to produce some sort of honey beer. A lot of the honey beers we have tasted seem to be just slightly sweeter pale lagers (Arguments that Sleeman’s Honey Brown Lager is actually brown are invalid). We wanted to make a beer that was bold in its honey taste, a beer with a honey taste you could identify without being told it is a honey beer.

The Tasting

Appearance: Light Brown. It was still hazy at the time of tasting because it had not been aged long enough. Very stable, long lasting head, with very small bubbles.
Aroma: A light sweet aroma, almost sugary smelling. Slightly smelling of plums
Taste: This is a beer for people who don’t like beer. It is very smooth and thick, with no hop taste; however, a small amount of bitterness seems to come from the malt. The combination of lots of honey malt and munich malt result in a very sweet, dark fruit taste. The sweet taste most certainly lingers on the tongue for a while. A small nutty taste as well, probably from the honey malt. No grain or hop taste you normally get from beer.
Overall: It is not bad, but it isn’t great either. Maybe too much honey malt, but further experiments will still need to be conducted. It is very flavourful, but perhaps too much so.

The Process

Specifics: 23 litre batch, 82% extraction efficiency, ABV 5%, O.G. 1.049, IBU 43, single infusion mash at 68 Celsius for 30 minutes

From what we have read, honey beers do not get their honey flavour from real honey. Honey is nearly 100% fermentable. Thus in beer, honey mainly results in more alcohol, not a sweeter beer. Instead, honey ales get their honey flavour from Gambrinus Honey Malt, or Brumalt (the German version). Normally, people do not recommend making the grain bill for a beer more than 5% honey malt. In this beer, we wanted to experiment with how much honey malt we could put into a beer. This recipe contains 13.5% honey malt. This is us experimenting for all you homebrewers out there.

Grain Bill

Gambrinus Pale Malt: 4 lb
Gambrinus Munich Light: 4 lb (to add maltiness and we did not have enough pale malt)
Gamrbinus Honey Malt: 1.5 lb (to push the limits of honey malt in a beer)
Flaked Barley: 8 oz (to give the beer a thicker, almost like honey like feel; also to add smoothness)
Gambrinus Wheat Malt: 8 oz (to thicken the beer and add a good head)
Chocolate Malt: 2 oz (to darken the colour, and add a small toasty, chocolately, dark taste to the beer)

Hop Schedule

A lot hops were added to this beer, purely to balance out the sweetness of the malt, thus the hops were all boiled for longer than 30 minutes. At 43 IBUs, the beer should be still quite sweet.

60 min: 1 oz Northern Brewer
30 min: 1 oz Northern Brewer


7 days in primary
14 days in secondary

This beer ended up being very carbonated.  So much so that bottles of this beer turned into fountains of foam if they were not poured into a glass immediately. It is possible that honey malt takes longer to finish fermenting than 21 days, resulting in the beer to continue fermenting after being bottled. This might be something to take into account if you use plenty of honey malt in your beer.


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