So, it was time to brew a new batch of beer for this summer. As I learned with the Pumpkin Spice Ale, you have to plan early to have the right beer ready for the season. I’m going to let this one age a few extra weeks, so I started this beer early so it would be ready by Memorial Day.
This beer is based on a beer that used to be one of my top five favorite beers of all time. I say, “used to be” because it is no longer brewed by Hale’s Ales in Seattle. In fact, they stopped making it over 10 years ago.
About 18 months ago I, along with friends, attended a “Brewer’s Night” at a local pub here in Boise where the guest was Mike Hale. The Mike Hale. I got to ask him about the Honey Wheat and he explained that he decided to return to their roots of classic brews and they stopped brewing the Honey Wheat. So, like any good home brewer, I asked him if he could share with us the recipe. He did. My friend Bil Schneider, who got me started on home brewing, brewed the beer last summer and it turned out great. It was a great hit at the our parties all summer long. Needless to say, my keg of it went very fast.
So, its time to do it again. I made one change to this recipe as an experiment. I prefer darker beers, so I used an amber malt instead of a light malt. But that’s it. Now, clearly, there is really no way to make an exact replica of my famous memory of the Honey Wheat, but that’s okay. Experimentation is all part of the satisfaction of home brewing.
I have a new brewing kettle that I bought since I brewed the Pumpkin Spice. It has a big nice thermometer on the side with a 1/2″ ball valve. More importantly, it has a lid. I lost 1 1/4 gallons of wort to evaporation last time because I lacked a lid. This time I lost less then 1/4 gallon. Much better. The chairs you see on the side are my wind break. I can’t wait till later in the year when I can actually brew in warm weather.
Ya, yes, the heart of the brew!
The last thing you do with this beer is add the honey. When Bil made this brew last summer, he made a five gallon batch. I am making 6 1/2 gallons with this batch. Five gallons for my keg and the rest to bottle. I don’t remember how much honey Bil used last time, I thought it was around 2 lbs of honey? Bil, maybe you could comment? Anyway, I used 3 1/2 lbs for this batch.
If you look carefully in the photo on the left, you’ll notice the sky behind me is white. That is not an over exposure with the camera. I was brewing during a mild snow storm. You can see the snow on the patio stone as well.
And of course, you can’t make home brew without drinking a home brew!
Sorry this next photo is slightly out of focus, but I wanted to add it to the post anyway as it shows the process of adding the wort to the primary. This new kettle is nice. I can pour the wort right out of the ball valve into the primary. This helps with aeration of the wort which in turn helps the yeast. Since I’m making a 6 1/2 gallon batch I needed to add some more water to the wort to bring my total to the proper amount. The boil was four gallons. That is why I’m standing there with a gallon of bottled water dumping it into the primary fermentor. I haven’t upgraded to a fancy stainless steel conical fermentor (and probably never will), so right now I’m using an entry level plastic bucket for my primary. The brew will sit in the primary for about 5 – 7 days. When I transfer it to the secondary, I’ll update with another post.