Sunday, January 20, 2013

Batch 013: The Killer Bee

Fair warning, this is going to be a really long post.  I decided it was time to go through and document the whole process from start to finish so there are a lot of pictures and there will be a lot of explanation behind them.

A week ago I was harvesting honey from the combs in preparation to make the next batches of mead at work and was talking to my boss about honey and beer.  He mentioned that it would be nice to have a honey IPA out there that showcased the honey.  I brought up Bell's Hopslam, but he was thinking even more honey forward than that.  So I accepted the challenge and a week later I was brewing up The Killer Bee Honey IIPA.

The recipe: Being honey forward that is where I started.  I really enjoy the taste of orange blossom honey so that is what I went with.  I wanted half of my fermentables to come from the honey so I grabbed a pound and a half of honey.  This will give me 47 points or 1.047 if I only put the honey in.  Two pounds of pale ale malt will give me the rest of my fermentables with 4oz of crystal 40L and 4oz of cara-pils to boost the body.  I am mashing high to get me a lot of body, which is usually avoided in IIPA's, but due to the amount of honey that is in this and how dry honey ferments I am trying to keep some body to the beer.  At this point I am throwing an obscene amount of hops at this beer with a calculated IBU of about 140 which I still thought was slightly conservative.  White Labs WLP001 will hopefully work its way through this beast.

The process:
 First things first, gather all of your ingredients and, if available, some inspiration beer.
 I started heating up 8qts of strike water to 162.5F, almost there in this picture, just a little farther.
 When you reach your strike temp, add your bag to the pot and toss in your grains.  Make sure to stir very well to wet all of the grains, which isn't as hard when doing a full volume mash.  Check your mash temps to make sure you hit your numbers.  Aiming for 156F, so I am happy with this.
 Place the lid on your pot and tuck the extra bag on top for safe storage during the mash.
 The pot then goes into the oven, set to warm.  If you put the pot directly on the bottom of the oven it will heat up too much, but if suspended on a rack it will hold its temperature for the whole mash.
 During the mash I go ahead and measure out my hop additions.  I use butter tub lids as weigh trays.
 60 minute bittering addition: half an ounce of Centennial and half an ounce of Simcoe.
 Left to right: 60 min(1/2oz Centennnial, 1/2oz Simcoe), 10 min(1/4oz Simcoe, 1/4oz Citra), Knockout(1/2oz Simcoe, 1/2oz Citra), and dry hop(1/4oz Simcoe, 1/4oz Citra).
 I weigh out my dry hops while weighing the rest so that I don't have to dig them out of the freezer when it comes time to dry hop.  So I bag them up then too.
 I take that bag and put them into a clean White Labs vial and place them on my freezer door for easy access, but still storing them cold and sealed to keep them fresh.

After an hour long mash, the pot comes back out of the oven and gets stirred up one last time.
  Pull the grain bag out and place it on a strainer to drain for a few minutes.  After it has drained you can discard the grains and begin heating to a boil.  Stir very well at this point.
The reason to stir very well is the make sure that your wort is uniform and will allow for a more accurate gravity reading.  I had a pre-boil gravity of 9.5P when I was expecting 8.7P.  A little high, but that's alright for this beer.
 As we reach a boil the first hop addition gets thrown in.
 Yummy hop break.
 Don't forget to start your timer.
 Pull the yeast out of the fridge to warm up to room temperature.  Since it is only one gallon, there is no need for a starter, but we will need the whole vial of yeast to fight the Killer Bee.
 During the boil is a good time to clean and sanitize your fermentor.  In this case a 2 gallon bucket that will allow for plenty of kreuson without blowing the lid off.
 If you can drink something similar to what you are brewing, the beer gods will look kindly upon you for this.
 10 minute addition of hops, my house reeks of Simcoe by now and I'm loving it.
 Knockout hops, kettle off and lots more hops going in.
 The kettle goes into a sink full of cold water to chill.  Stir the inside while moving to the pot to keep both the water and the wort moving.  When your sink is full leave it sit for 5 minutes.
 After 5 minutes the sink water should be hot, so drain it and replace it with fresh cold water.  Also this is the time to add a sanitized lid to keep the wort safe while it chills.  I usually change the water 2-3 times to chill a batch down to below 80F.
 Below 80F, good enough for me.
 Time to check the gravity again.  It is now up to 13.5P, with an estimated OG(pre honey) or 12.3P.  So I did overshoot my gravity, but as I said before, that isn't exactly a bad thing for this beer.
 Now I rack to my fermenter and try to leave the massive amount of hops and break material behind in the kettle.
 Nice cake of hops left in the bottom of the kettle.
 Time to get the honey ready.  A pound and a half of orange blossom honey going in.
 Make sure that everything is sanitized, including the container that the honey is in.
 Mix the honey in with a whisk and while you are doing that so ahead and aerate the wort like crazy.
 Last gravity check.  23P or 1.094 SG.
 Pitch your yeast and watch out for the exploding vials.
 Finally tag your fermentor so you don't loose track of what is in each bucket.
Don't forget to take notes.  Here is my note sheet that I use.

Crazy brew night for sure.  Nothing went wrong and finally got a step by step walk through of my brewing process for anyone interested.  Bottling two batches this week, adding clearing agents to my berry cyser and impatiently waiting on this and Alterna to finish.

Got the stuff to brew a few more batches up, but I am currently stocked up in the fermentor department so once I bottle I can brew again.  Time to check on the bottle supply.

If anyone has any questions about how I brew, or just want to leave a message, hit the comment button below.

Until next time,

Cheers everyone!



  1. Hey, nice brew! I, too, am a one gallon brewer and I thoroughly enjoyed this. The only thing I'm left asking is, "No sparge?" Or did you leave that out because of the type of beer you were brewing? Just wondering...

    1. I sparged the first time or two on this system, but haven't since then. I am still getting around 70% efficiency with full volume, no sparge so I just adjust recipes around that number.