Honey Hefeweizen

The Story

Caribou Honey Lager

Bowen Island Honey

Granville Island Honey Lager

British Columbia is notorious for honey beers. Just check the list of beers brewed in BC. Nearly every brewery attempting to market to the lager drinking crowd has a honey beer. One theory is that honey makes beer sound more sweet, thus more easy drinking. For those who are weary of the bitterness of beer, honey sounds quite appealing. However, since honey is very fermentable, when it is added to beer most of the sweet honey flavour turns into alcohol. So the sweetness people expect from a honey beer generally comes from the malt, not the honey.

Seeing as it is summer, and we have a lot of Gambrinus Honey Malt lying around the brewery (and we want to fit in with other BC breweries), we made a honey hefeweizen. Most of the honey sweetness comes from the Gambrinus Honey Malt. We added 1 pound of Raspberry Blossom Honey after the beer had fermented, and then 1 pound of plain unpasteurized honey to carbonate. Most of the sugar from the honey turns into alcohol, drying out the beer; however, some of that honey flavour and aroma sticks around. Combined with the banana, clove, and sweet flavour from the hefeweizen yeast, this beer could end up being like alcoholic banana cream pie.

The Tasting

Honey HefeweizenAppearance: Slightly darker than a normal hefeweizen, but still very refreshing looking. Very foamy, strong head, with tonnes of lacing.
Aroma: Very floral honey aroma, with a hint of hops.
Taste: Immediate honey and banana flavour, with the bubble gum coming in later. There is malty sweet flavour as well coming from the honey malt and biscuit malt. After swallowing, it becomes very dry and slightly bitter. This is likely from the large amounts of honey (2 pounds) put into the beer. There is a slight grainy taste as well. Very carbonated, making almost soda-like, yet the body is very heavy.
Overall: It is a casual summer beer. Hefeweizens generally seem to be a beer that has a wide appeal, and this beer is no different. It is obviously very sweet because of the honey malt, but it also has a heavier feel because the honey malt and biscuit malt. Thus it is not as refreshing as other hefeweizens, but it is very flavourful. The White Lab 380 does produce a lot of bubble gum, which AJ has become less a fan of. It’s a fine beer, but adding Gambrinus Honey Malt makes a beer less refreshing because it makes the beer heavier and sweeter. Sweet and heavy are two adjectives not normally used to describe refreshing beers. Perhaps less honey malt. Also we should have mashed at a lower temperature

The Process

Specifics: 23 litre batch, 66% extraction efficiency, ABV 5.0%, O.G. 1.050, IBU 16, single infusion mash: 60 minutes at 68 Celsius.

Grain Bill
This is a fairly typical hefeweizen with wheat malt and pale malt making up a majority of grain bill. However, we added nearly a pound of Gambrinus Honey Malt to really bring out the toasty honey flavour.

Gambrinus Pale Malt: 5 lb
Gambrinus Wheat Malt: 5 lb
Gambrinus Honey Malt: 14 oz (8 oz of honey malt provides a slight honey flavour, while anything over a pound of honey malt can become cloyingly sweet. We wanted a noticeable honey flavour, without being cloying, so we settled on 14 oz)
Belgian Biscuit: 4 oz (We tried this in our Honey Nut Brown Ale, and it adds a great toasty, bready flavour that really brings out the flavour of the honey malt. So we added a little bit to our honey hefeweizen as well)

Honey in Honey Malt

(Honey surrounded by Gambrinus Honey Malt)

Hop Schedule

We only did first wort hopping, in order create a smoother bitterness that will hopefully bring out the honey flavour.

First Wort Hops: 1 oz Ultra (We have plenty of ultra remaining from our last order from Hops Direct. It is a noble type hop that works well in wheat beers and lagers. Very clean bitterness, with a slight floral aroma.)

Fermentation
Rinsed White Labs 380 yeast from the Cascade Falls Hefeweizen.
Primary Fermentation: 14 days at 21 Celsius

Adding Honey

(Adding honey to the secondary fermenter. Before the honey is added, this beer is about 4.5%)

Added 1 pound of Raspberry Blossom Honey when racking beer to the secondary.
Secondary Fermentation: 14 days at 18 Celsius
Added 1 pound of unpasteurized honey for carbonation

Fermenting Honey Hefeweizen

(The beer starting to ferment again. After all the honey fermented in the beer, the alcohol increased to 5%)

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