Adding honey to a Kolsch extract recipe?

Discussion in 'Beginners Brewing Forum' started by Wulfsbane, Aug 27, 2020.

  1. Wulfsbane

    Wulfsbane New Member

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    Hey so the 2nd batch of beer I want to do is a Kolsch extract from Northern Brewer (I'm doing the extracts until I get more comfortable and eventually get better/advanced equipment). Recently I had a honey Kolsch and I kinda want to make my own version of it. Was curious if I were to add honey to it, when would be a good time to add it?

    Also what would be a good honey to add: wildflower, clover, or orange blossom?
     
  2. Megary

    Megary Well-Known Member

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    It's hard to get honey flavor from honey. If anything, you probably get a floral, almost perfumey thing. What honey does provide is sugars that the yeast loves and that will raise your alcohol content and lighten the beer's body.

    I think if its a honey flavor that you are after, maybe try steeping some Honey Malt.

    Something like this:
    https://www.morebeer.com/products/gambrinus-honey-malt.html
     
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  3. Blackmuse

    Blackmuse Well-Known Member

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    I tend to add honey at the end of the boil or the secondary if I use it. It boosts alcohol and 'dries' a beer out adding a crisp finish. It does not add a lot in flavor so the type used is pretty much irrelevant in my opinion but I have only used clover and wild flower... I like it in my blonde ale and would also add it to a kolsch but not for the honey flavor so much as the drying effect.

    If you want a bit of honey sweetness then add the Gambrinus honey malt like @Megary said.

    Honestly, I bet you would get more honey flavor out of a malt bill 50/50 split of weyermann vienna and bohemien pilsner with 5-10% honey malt than you would honey.

    90-95 % bohemian pils and 5-10% honey malt would also do the trick on a very simple level (simple is excellent with a Kolsch!).
     
  4. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    I'd add a bit to Blackmuse's comment: simple is everything in a Koelsch. Personally, I'd never consider adding honey to a Koelsch. My favorite microbrewery makes a honey koelsch and as much as I love Koelsch, I won't drink it: The net result of adding the honey is a thin Koelsch. But I'm not every drinker and they keep making it so it must sell.... My two cents: If you want honey flavor, follow Blackmuse's advice: Use honey malt. Koelsch derives its sweetness from esters. Actual honey will thin everything and unless you use a pretty strongly flavored variety, won't add much flavor. Table sugar will thin the body for a lot less money. So it depends on what you want. I like a good Reinheitsgebot-compliant Koelsch, you may like the honey version. Pro tip: Talk to the actual brewer. If they're around, they'll generally talk to you about their beer (I've yet to meet a brewer that won't brag on how they made their beer, particularly if you compliment it first). Find out what they use and more importantly, how they use it, then try what you learn on your scale.
     
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  5. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    As per all of above, you won't really get anything from honey that you would with plain old sugar, except lighter in the wallet...
     
  6. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    Kolsch is often used as a jumping off point for flavor experimentation (mistakenly so, in my opinion...I'm firmly in the same camp as Nosybear on this). A true Kolsch should drink like a fine lager, clean, malty simple.
    That being said, an extract brew may not exactly hit all the style points, anyway, so a little "personalizing" might be fun. The honey, as mentioned, may not be very impressive, though I've done precisely what you're thinking quite a few years back and to the best of my recollection, experienced a little honey flavor. Definitely a lighter, thinner beer than it might normally be, though.
    Best way to do it is use a new, sealed container and pour it directly into the fermenter after a couple of days of activity. That'll keep some of the volatile flavor molecules in place rather than blowing everything out during high krausen. Definitely double down on the flavor by steeping some honey malt. And use a mild, floral hop like Tettenang.
    I find wheat beers to be better vehicles for added flavors. Mango Witbier, Apricot Hefe, Strawberry/basil American Wheat...things like that can be really nice if not overdone.
    Good luck with it.
     

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