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Honey My Basil

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Honey My Basil

back to search Back to Search  Style Details 

Beer Style: Witbier (16A)
Recipe Type: partial mash
Yield: 5 US gallons



This is a Belgian Wit that is the most refreshing summer drink I've had all year. As is, this recipe is solid, but of course the honey, lemon, and basil can all be adjusted slightly to taste (I suggest you brew it once, and make adjustments in a second batch if you decide to). As it is, this beer is a really good Wit- slightly sour and Belgian-funky on the front, with the basil coming in softly, smoothed out by the honey, and tied together with gentle lemon notes that compliment the mild sourness. As this recipe stands, none of the ingredients are overwhelming or stand out significantly over the others; it's a nice balance, and the final alcohol by volume is 5.3%. Make it!!! And make sure you use ORGANIC lemon and basil so that you don't add any funky pesticides or chemicals to your beer! Here goes (for 5.5 gallons with a final yield of about 5)-


  • 3.3# Briess Pilsen Light LME
  • 3# Briess Bavarian Wheat DME
  • 1# grain (.5 Durst Vienna; .5 German Wheat)
  • .5 oz organic sweet basil (that weight includes stems)
  • 1/4# Wildflower honey
  • 1/2 peel of organic lemon (gently scrape off the outer peel, don't gouge too deeply into the peel)
  • 1oz Hallertau Tradition hops
  • 1oz Hallertau Hersbrucker hops
  • 1oz Citra hops
  • White Labs Belgian Wit Ale Yeast

Additional Instructions

Primary Ferment: 14 days
Secondary Ferment: none

Beer Profile

Original Gravity: 1.0494
Final Gravity: 1.0143
Alcohol by Vol: 4.59%
Recipe Type: partial mash
Yield: 5.00 US Gallons

Click to Print Recipe


1) Place 3.5 gallons water in refrigerator to cool (only if you are going to have to use an ice bath to chill your wort; if using an immersion wort chiller, just leave the 3.5 gallons of water at room temp). Bring 2 gallons water to about 152 degrees Fahrenheit (ideally, 145 degrees minimum and 155 degrees maximum)
2) Steep grain inside a sackcloth in water at 152 degrees for 50 min. Press and mash grain bag periodically with sterile spoon to ensure maximum extraction. Remove grainbag after 50 min and squeeze the water out and into your kettle.
3) Bring water to a rapid boil and remove from heat. Add dried malt extract and stir in, followed by liquid malt extract. Return to a boil.
4) Add Tradition hops at 10 min.
5) Add Hersbrucker hops at 35 min.
6) Add Citra hops at 50 min.
7) Turn off heat at 50 min. and add honey (stir in), basil, and lemon peel. Let steep for 10 minutes, then strain into another pot (unless you were wise enough to place the basil and lemon peel in a sackcloth! recommended...). You may want to stir in the honey earlier, at about 40 min, to produce more fermentable sugars. However, like hop oils, the longer it is in the boiling water, the more its subtle flavors are removed.
7) Cool. Either use an immersion wort chiller and then add to fermenter with remaining 3.5 gallons water, or chill kettle of wort in an ice bath and then add to fermenter with pre-chilled water (pre-chilling really helps if you don't have a wort chiller).
8) When wort is at around 70 to 75 degrees, shake fermenter VIGOROUSLY to aerate wort and then pitch yeast (I have pitched at 80 degrees and outcome was still excellent).
9) Ferment for TWO weeks, then bottle or keg as usual. If you bottle it, age it at least two weeks and then place in refrigerator for one week. Open it on a really hot day (or any day) and enjoy!

Notes: This beer will start off with a vigorous ferment as usual, but will then slow down significantly (not necessarily unusual for Belgian yeasts). It will bubble for almost two full weeks, though. You may or may not wish to use a secondary fermenter; I didn't, and I don't think I ever would because I'm afraid of the risk of oxidizing this beer during its later slow and fragile fermenting period (that's just me, though). If you poured your wort through a strainer and/or used sackcloths, you really won't need a secondary fermenter, either, because there won't be any trub to impart off flavors and the yeast doesn't adversely affect the flavor even after two weeks. As far as yeast sediment goes- just make sure you leave the sediment on the bottom of the fermenter when siphoning to your bottling bucket. Then, leave the last half inch or so of beer in the bottom of your bottling bucket. If you do this, you will have eliminated 99% of the sediment from 5 gallons of beer. And relax, this beer is actually really easy... whatever you do is gonna taste great.