Back in December, Midwest Supplies offered to send us one of their pre-packaged homebrew kits to review. I chose Uncommon Honey Steam, a California lager (or California common) with honey. Unfortunately before we had a chance to fully ferment the beer, this particular kit was removed from the Midwest site – but I’ve got the recipe here if you’d like to create it. Now that the beer’s had some time to age, here are my thoughts.
- 8# 2-row
- 1/2# Cara-Pils
- 1/2# Crystal 40L
- 3# honey @ 5m
- 1 oz Northern Brewer @ 60m
- 1.5 oz Cascade @ 2m
- Wyeast 2112 California Lager (2L starter)
I should note that I deviated from the recipe in a few ways. First, honey doesn’t need that much time in the boil, and it kills the aroma. I put it in at flameout. Secondly, the kit came with 2 oz of Cascade hops, so I used the whole 2 oz. Lastly, Midwest included a 5 oz bag of priming sugar with instructions to use the whole thing. I shot for 2.7 vol (on the high end of the style guidelines for a Cal common) and adjusted for my beer’s temperature, so I used 4 oz. The honey and hop aromas are great, and carbonation is good but on the high side, so I think the adjustments were a good idea. I made a starter, too. It never hurts, especially with lager yeast.
The ingredients seemed good. I liked the honey (wildflower from Minnesota) and the crush of the grains was perfect — not so fine the husks are ripped, but pretty well pummeled. The recipe is also pretty good in my opinion. If you go by BJCP numbers — OG, FG, and IBU — it’s a little on the larger side, but I’m down with that. My original gravity (OG) was dead on the 1.065 that Midwest projected. However, their instructions could use a little help since they didn’t suggest a fermentation schedule. I fermented at 60F for two weeks, bumped it up to 64F for a few days, transferred to a secondary, and then lagered for six weeks. Gravity at transfer was 1.022 and that dropped to 1.020 by bottling.
The final product is slightly hazy with a dark golden color and a persistent white, foamy head. The distinctive citrus aroma is starting to fade a bit and the honey is now just as strong. The sweetness, too high at first, seems to have died down a bit and now just accentuates the honey flavor. Still, I think it would be better if it attenuated a few more points. The taste is similar to the aroma, with primarily honey and citrus backed up with caramel malt, and quite clean other than that. The carbonation is fairly high, but that’s how I like my beer. If you want a clean beer that tastes like hops and honey, this is a good pick. My natural tendency is to crank everything to 11, so if I brewed it again I’d probably add a little more hops and honey.
Overall I thought it was a solid kit for homebrewing. You can pick up similar kits for a variety of beer styles online through Midwest Supplies.