White House Honey Ale: Racking Day (aka Cusick House Honey Ale)

Above you can see our beer needs to clear out yet, during this racking stage it looked like apple cider just a bit paler.  Here is hoping it clears out some!

Above you can see our beer needs to clear out yet, during this racking stage it looked like apple cider just a bit paler. Here’s hoping it clears out some!

A couple of things:

First we have renamed this beer to “Cusick House Honey Ale” figuring it is only fitting since we did not use White House Honey but Cusick House Honey in this brew!

Second, this past weekend we took the next step in our first homebrew experiment, racking.  In the picture to the left we are siphoning our brew from our primary 6.5 gallon glass fermenter to the secondary 5 gallon glass fermenter.    The idea behind racking beer per John Palmer and How to Brew:

“Racking is the term for the process of transferring the beer without disturbing the sediments or exposing it to air. Usually this is done by siphoning. It is imperative to not aerate the wort during transfer after primary fermentation. Any oxygen in the beer at this time will cause staling reactions that will become evident in the flavor of the beer within a couple weeks.”

Why we rack:

” The yeast also produce an array of fusel alcohols during primary fermentation in addition to ethanol. Fusels are higher molecular weight alcohols that often give harsh solvent-like tastes to beer. During secondary fermentation, the yeast convert these alcohols to more pleasant tasting fruity esters. Warmer temperatures encourage ester production.  Towards the end of secondary fermentation, the suspended yeast flocculates (settles out) and the beer clears.” 

It is times like this I am glad Huz is a chemistry teacher who also has the patience to siphon beer as it takes a bit of time.  This has been one large fun experiment.  He is the brains and I am the cleaner…sanitation, sanitation, sanitation.   The next step is bottling, which I think will be done in 2 weeks from the racking day.  To save a bit of money we have been saving our beer bottles, de-labeling them, cleaning them, and sterilizing them by dry heat in the oven.  More to come on that step later this week.

Thoughts, comments, observations… please share!


White House Honey Ale

We love beer… a good cold beer paired with pizza, mexican cuisine, or enjoyed on a hot or cold day = delicious.  Thus brewing our own beer seems like a natural thing to do.  By brewing our own we can control tastes, flavor, and of course price (to a degree).  We are very much novices on this front and in preparation for our brewing we read up a bit on the topic: How to Brew  .  So armed with some knowledge and a love of beer we decided to brew White House Honey Ale , since we have a surplus honey flow from our honeybees this year.  There is also a White House Honey Porter we may try at some point, but wanted to start with the standard ale first.  Below is the recipe…

White House Honey Ale


  • 2 (3.3 lb) cans light malt extract
  • 1 lb light dried malt extract
  • 12 oz crushed amber crystal malt
  • 8 oz Biscuit Malt
  • 1 lb White House Honey
  • 1 1/2 oz Kent Goldings Hop Pellets
  • 1 1/2 oz Fuggles Hop pellets
  • 2 tsp gypsum
  • 1 pkg Windsor dry ale yeast
  • 3/4 cup corn sugar for priming


  1. In an 12 qt pot, steep the grains in a hop bag in 1 1/2 gallons of sterile water at 155 degrees for half an hour. Remove the grains.
  2. Add the 2 cans of the malt extract and the dried extract and bring to a boil.
  3. For the first flavoring, add the 1 1/2 oz Kent Goldings and 2 tsp of gypsum. Boil for 45 minutes.
  4. For the second flavoring, add the 1 1/2 oz Fuggles hop pellets at the last minute of the boil.
  5. Add the honey and boil for 5 more minutes.
  6. Add 2 gallons chilled sterile water into the primary fermenter and add the hot wort into it. Top with more water to total 5 gallons. There is no need to strain.
  7. Pitch yeast when wort temperature is between 70-80˚. Fill airlock halfway with water.
  8. Ferment at 68-72˚ for about seven days.
  9. Rack to a secondary fermenter after five days and ferment for 14 more days.
  10. To bottle, dissolve the corn sugar into 2 pints of boiling water for 15 minutes. Pour the mixture into an empty bottling bucket. Siphon the beer from the fermenter over it. Distribute priming sugar evenly. Siphon into bottles and cap. Let sit for 2 to 3 weeks at 75˚.

NOTES (A few things we did differently, or did which is not stated on the recipe)

  • Use a 6.5 gallon fermenter for the first fermentation, you will have enough head space for the fermentation
  • In step 6, rather than adding two gallons of chilled sterile water we used a wort chiller…if you have one use it.  Chilling the wort this quickly helps to keep risk of bacteria to a minimum.  Once it chilled we added it to the fermenter via straining (see next step)
  • We strained our beer, even though the recipe says no need.  It pulls out some of the trub and aerates the wort as it is being ported into the fermenter which ultimately helps when you add the yeast as it initially needs oxygen to do its thing.
  • Add rest of water to get it up to the 5 gallon mark on your 6.5 gallon carboy then follow rest of directions.

Here are a few pictures, we are currently on our first ferment & this coming saturday we will rack to a secondary fermenter (5 gallon carboy).

Some of the different stages of brewing this batch of beer.

Some of the different stages of brewing this batch of beer.

Has anyone out there made this recipe?  Any other tips we should follow or know about?