Making a Roasted Barley and Honey Ale

Here is my most recent batch of beer. I really felt like doing something with honey in it, so I threw this recipe together. I found a 1kg tin of liquid malt extract at Coles near where they stock their honey – it’s made by a company called Saunders and was only $7.99.

First I pan-roasted 100g of pearl barley to a deep brown colour over high heat – it ended up similar in colour and taste/aroma to an espresso roasted coffee. I wanted to destroy all the starch. Tasting it as I went I stopped when there was no sweetness present in the grain at all – only a deep roasty nuttiness. Cracked the grains. Then I did a 1.5L steep of this home roasted barley along with 20g of chocolate malt at 66C for 1 hour. Strained the steeping liquid into the kettle (rinsed off the grains with an additional 500mls of hot water) and added the 1kg tin of Saunders malt extract, 40g of treacle and brought it all to the boil. I threw in about 15g of Saaz pellets and boiled for about 5 minutes. After flameout and a brief cooling I added about 350g of homebrand honey and a 1.7kg tin of Coopers Real Ale. Dissolved everything and poured it into the fermenter. Topped up to 23L with cold water and pitched yeast at 23C. It was very foamy.

The smell of the wort was unbelievable – the honey and barley aroma combo was mindblowing in the early stages. The initial colour was a reasonably dark, semi-translucent coffee – thanks mainly to the roasted barley.

After bulk-priming with raw sugar, and a week in the bottle, this beer turned out to be a lot lighter than I thought it would be. The Coopers kit is quite bitter, and so this beer is probably better suited to cooler weather. It also seems to be perfectly suited for ageing – perhaps from 6 months to a year.

It seems to be just about as bitter as Coopers’ Bitter Kit which I have written on before. However, this one doesn’t have the same type of roasted malt character. Although, my roast barley addition has given it a subtle coffee note on the palate. The honey is there, too, lending a complex, fruity aroma to the brew.

This went perfectly with the curry we served up for dinner – stay tuned for the recipe!

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