Home Brew Recipe : Honey Beer

Adding honey to your home brew is a great way to increase the aromas and flavours in your beer. This recipe for a full bodied refreshing brew will also give you ideas for developing your own honey beer recipes.

Honey has been used in alcoholic drinks for centuries in mead and in beer. While mead is made completely from honey, honey beers are made by adding honey as a flavouring to a general beer base.

Honey beers have become popular with home brewers because the honey flavours and sweetness complement the taste of malt. It can also add complexity to existing favourite recipes.

Commercial breweries have added to the popularity with beers such as Fullers Organic Honey Dew becoming widely available.

It’s important to realise that honey contains wild yeast and bacteria which can potentially damage the brew. (This is why it’s often not recommended to give honey to very young children). Although many brewers throw the honey in without any problems, it’s as well to consider this issue before you start brewing.

There are several schools of thought on how to deal with it.

Some brewers add honey to the wort for the last ten minutes of the boil, sterilising it in the process. The general view, though, is that this kills the flavour along with the bacteria.

In my recipe, the honey goes into the fermenter after high krausen.

This preserves the aromas and gives the yeast extra food to keep the fermentation going for longer. To deal with the wild yeast and bacteria, pasteurise the honey at 80°C for 1 hour before adding to remove the problem without the honey taste.

More information on this and the use of honey in brewing can be found on the National Honey Board website.

Honey Beer Recipe

Fermentation Period
19 Days

Recipe Volume
16 litres

Start Volume (Brew in a Bag)
21 litres

Pale Ale: 3 kg
Melanoidin: 0.56kg
Honey: 0.5kg (added Day 3 with 1 litre of water)

Mash Time
70 mins

Mash Target Temperature

Cascade (6.8%): 15g for 60 mins
Kent Goldings (5.3%): 20g for 10 mins
Kent Goldings (5.3%): 20g for 5 mins

Danstar Nottingham Ale Rehydrated in 200ml water at 35°C for 30mins

Original Gravity

Final Gravity

Recipe Notes

  • Prepare beer as usual and leave to ferment
  • After three days (or once fermentation has slowed) pasteurise the honey by dissolving it in 1 litre of water, heating for 1 hour at 80°C and leaving to cool. Remove lid of fermenter, carefully add honey solution and gently stir. As always, sanitise all implements before starting.
  • Leave to finish fermenting as normal before bottling.
  • For best taste, leave to condition in the bottle for at least one month.

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  1. Michael Roth

    Thank you for this recipe! I made it & just tried my first bottle last night & it was AMAZING! I used honey malt instead of the melanoidin though.

    Thanks Again!

    • John

      Thanks for the feedback, and glad you liked the beer!

      It’s got me tempted and thinking about making another batch myself.


  2. ivan kibona

    good and nice

  3. ivan kibona

    i like to make beer so me and my family we enjoy to make and drink

  4. michel parsons

    What type of honey did you use?

    • John

      It’s honey from a farm that I bought at my local greengrocer’s. It’s half-set/half-runny.

      Unfortunately it just says “honey” on the packaging so I don’t have more information than that, but the tastier the better.

  5. lucas


    I was looking for a honey beer recipe and I really like yours. I have couple of questions:
    – Have you added more honey for bottling? Or all the honey you have add before was enough for gas generation?
    – Have you tried to put 1 kg of honey? To much?
    – What do you think to use 4 kg of Pale Ale and 0.7 kg of Melanoidin? It will be too dense and in consequence too much alcohol at the end of the beer?

    your website is great! Cheers from Argentina

    • John

      Hi Lucas,

      Yes, I did prime with honey at bottling because the main batch of honey was largely used by the time I bottled.

      I haven’t tried to put 1kg but the honey effect is fairly subtle, so if you’re looking for a really honey heavy beer give it a go.

      I liked this amount of malt because it kept the beer quite light and fresh. I’m sure it would be fine to increase the quantities, and strength, but it would change the type of beer you get. It may become the sort of thing you want to drink in smaller quantities.

      It depends what you like to drink.



      • lucas

        I will try it for sure! I will keep you informed.


  6. Derrick

    Hi John,
    I just added 500g of honey in my fermenter. May I ask how much honey I should add for bottling?

    • John

      Hi Derrick,

      It will depend how much you have made and how carbonated you want the beer. This page explains that fully.

      As a rough guide, to carbonate 20 litres to medium fizziness I would use around 135g.

      • Derrick

        Thanks a lot! I will give it try and see what happens!

  7. Jeremy Johnston

    I am making a lemon/citrus beer and I really like the honey idea to use instead of adding the priming sugar. I am really new to this and was trying to understand. You are just pouring the honey on the bottom of the bottle prior to capping. I intend to use pint bottles. What would you say would be the amount of honey I should use?

    • John

      Hi Jeremy,

      I think you could just put the honey straight into each bottle, but I personally would gently heat it in a little water until it reaches about 80 C.

      This will reduce the chance of the honey introducing an infection and, more practically, will make it more liquid and easier to work with. I would add this mixture to the beer in the fermenter, rather than adding to each bottle individually.

      In terms of quanities, it depends how much beer you have. As a rough guide, to carbonate 20 litres to medium fizziness you could use around 135g.

      It’s mainly about getting the right amount of carbonation, as at those amounts the honey taste will probably not register.

      Hope that helps.

  8. Noor

    Hi John,

    This is going to be the first beer I am going to make.
    I have just bought the ingredients and have the supplies to work with.
    I already read a lot of articles and a book about all grain brewing.
    But now I have a question:
    I see that the amount of grain to water ratio is a little lower than what the books tell me is usual. Is this because of the Honey?
    And also is the og measured directly after the boil or after putting the Honey in?

    Greetz Noor

    • John

      Hi Noor,

      The OG (original gravity) includes the honey if I remember rightly, so it is a ‘theoretical’ gravity that you won’t measure.

      I think the ratio you mention comes from traditional all grain brewing where you use a separate mash tun. I do brew in a bag, which generally uses more water relative to the amount of grain.

      Out of interest, which book did you read?

  9. Noor

    Hi John,

    I am Noor and i am going to start brewing soon.
    I have read a lot of articles and stuff around the internet about brewing all grain/biab.
    Yours is realy helpful btw!
    I bought all the ingredients for this honey beer and now i am ready to go!
    but i still have a question about it.
    This recipe requires less malt than what is (usual) in kg/liter.
    Is this because of the honey that is added later on?
    also do you think it is a good idea to use like 2 liter less strike water and use this as sparge water later when you put the bag with grains to drip out?

    Thanks for the recipe and your answer is appreciated.

    greetz noor

    • John

      Hi Noor,

      Yes, the honey adds sugar as well as the malt, and also I didn’t want the beer to be too strong in general. It also depends what you mean by usual, as this is not that small an amount of malt to use.

      I’ve heard of people doing that sparge step who are happy with the results, but I’ve found it simpler to leave the bag draining on it’s own while the boil gets going. It is one thing to focus on.

      Try both and see which you prefer.

      Good luck with the brew.