Announcing the SFHG Presidential Honey Ale Competition!

The 2012 Election Day is coming up in early November and the White House chefs just released their White House Honey Ale recipe, so we’re going to get all political with the “SFHG Presidential Honey Ale” Homebrew Competition. More homebrew is the one thing we can all agree is great policy for all of these United States! We’re also doing a Label Competition for these brews, scroll down for the rules.


Rules & information 


DATE: Saturday, November 3rd (soon, so brew it ASAP!). The competition will double as a Homebrew Share in which all the competition entrants must bring a couple gallons of their Presidential Honey Ale for everyone to try. Everyone is encouraged to bring homebrew of all varieties to share.


PLACE: TBD but we’re looking at some very cool spots!


ENTRY: Beer submissions will be due on Oct 31st and must consist of three 12 oz unlabeled bottles with a piece of paper taped or rubber-banded to the bottles containing the entrant’s name, phone number, email address, and the name of the brew. There will be two drop off sites in SF. We will announce the drop off locations shortly. This is also a Homebrew Share — all entrants in the competition will be required to bring two gallons of their brew to the event for everyone to try (that’s about twenty 12 oz bottles or ten 22 oz bottles).


PRIZES: The top Presidential Honey Ale and the People’s Choice beers will win ribbons and an assortment of other prizes sourced from local breweries, homebrew shops, and better beer bars. The second and third place beers and the winner of the Label Competition will win prizes sourced from local breweries, homebrew shops, and better beer bars.


PRICE: SFHG members can enter the competition and attend the event for only $5, non-member price is $15. We will pre-sell tickets to this event to avoid a crush, our mailing list will be the first to get the email with a link to buy tickets.


JUDGING: Judging for the top three beers will be conducted by a panel of professional brewers, BJCP judges, and beer experts. There will be a separate vote by attendees for a People’s Choice beer and for the Label Competition.


Entrants are responsible for brewing according to the rules!


1) You must make your beer using the White House Honey Ale recipe! Here is the recipe on the White House blog, along with some vids of their process. We’re doing the Honey Ale, not the Honey Porter.


2)You may modify the recipe in the following ways:


A) You may use the British-style yeast of your choice. The WH chefs used Danstar dry Windsor Yeast, but for this competition you can use any dry or liquid British Ale yeast. You’ve got to use British yeast. Fermenting with a clean American-style yeast will result in a very different beer that will not fit within the rules of the competition, regardless of whether the final product is tasty. We’ll be looking for British Ale character.


B) The WH recipe is an extract recipe, if you want to convert the recipe to all-grain you are free to do so. If you convert the recipe to all-grain, you must still use only the same specialty grains the WH chefs use, namely 8 oz of biscuit malt and 12 oz of crystal/caramel malt. The WH chefs don’t specify the Lovibond rating of the crystal/caramel malt they used, but they would probably be between 20 L and 60 L, what color rating (or mix of colors) you use is up to you.


C) Regarding the hop bill — the WH recipe appears to contain a misprint. The ingredient list states that you need 1.5 oz of Fuggles, but the directions only state that you should drop in .5 oz at the last minute of the boil (leaving 1 oz of Fuggles unused). We can’t know what they meant to say there. For all we know, the 1 oz of Fuggles should go in at the 15 minute mark…or maybe at the very end…or maybe that extra oz shouldn’t even be listed at all! It’s your call on what to do about that 1 oz of extra Fuggles (FYI the 1.5 oz of Kent Goldings are probably enough for bittering hops).


D) Lowering the gravity a bit is OK – we don’t have long to brew the White House Honey Ale for this competition. That’s great because it forces us to get the ball rolling ASAP, but it’s not great because it doesn’t give the beer long to mature in the bottles. Generally, six weeks is more than enough time for making a low-medium gravity beer, bottling it, and allowing it to carbonate and mature a bit. We have eight weeks to get our Presidential Honey Ales done. That said, when you put the ingredients for the White House Honey Ale into a beer calculator like, it tells you this is a 1.065 OG beer with a final ABV over 6%, which is fairly high. Therefore, we are allowing competition entrants to lower the gravity of the brew slightly if they would like, for the sole purpose of ensuring that these beers have enough time to mature prior to the competition. For instance, if you remove the one pound of dry malt extract the OG falls to about 1.056 and the final ABV is about 5.3%. Will this throw off the balance? I don’t know…think about it a bit before you do it. The best plan is to brew the beer ASAP so it has an extra week or two in the bottles before the competition date so maturation isn’t an issue.


E) Use 1 pound of the honey of your choice. Obviously, the one ingredient we cannot get is the White House honey. Use one pound of any honey you’d like. Different honey types will definitely affect the flavor of the final beer.


F) Using gypsum to adjust water chemistry is completely optional, as is any water adjustment.


About the beer: From the look of the White House Honey Ale recipe, this is a medium-gravity amber beer with a malt-leaning character that will be biscuity, cracker-like, and slighly caramel. The English ale yeast will provide the typical fruity esters found in British beers such as milds and bitters, while the Kent Goldings and Fuggles hops will give the beer an earthy-floral British hop flavor and aroma. The honey will give the beer a unique flavor and dry it out a bit as honey is fully fermentable. Garret Oliver, the brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewing, stated in this New York Times article that it would probably taste: “Light, crisp and dry, with some bready flavors from the malts, floral notes from the honey, and fruitiness from the British ale yeast.” This is not a BJCP category beer and we do not have an exact beer to compare the entrants to, which means that it will all come down to who brews the best beer using the White House recipe and the slight modifications we are allowing. 


SFHG “PRESIDENTIAL HONEY ALE” LABEL COMPETITION RULES: Here’s the label they put on the White House Honey Ale. Sure, it’s nice and all, but that design is pretty conservative, considering how progressive Obama is supposed to be. I think our homebrewers and designers can do better! There will be a Label Competition for all you graphic designers, so print up those labels and slap ‘em on the beers you bring to the tasting event! There will be a vote by the attendees of the event to determine the winner of the Label Competition.


You’re probably not the only one with your question, please write us at and ask. I’ll send out another email about this event which will contain more details and any necessary clarifications, as well as the final word on who some of the featured judges will be and the location for the event. Also, we will pre-sell tickets to this to avoid a crush, so there may be a link for that in the next email as well.


This is going to be awesome!

About SF Homebrewers Guild

What: The San Francisco Homebrewers Guild was established in 2012 to serve as an organizing force for the local homebrewer community. Our goal is to encourage the art and craft of homebrewing and to bring local brewers together. Join us for monthly events including homebrew shares, brew days, commercial and home brewery tours, meet-the-brewer parties, style classes by pro brewers, and so on. Who: You! Whether you have been brewing for many years or have barely unpacked your starter kit, the SFHG welcomes homebrewers of all levels to our events. Even the most experienced homebrewers can benefit from feedback about their creations! BYOH: Bring your own homebrew!
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One Response to Announcing the SFHG Presidential Honey Ale Competition!

  1. Pingback: Free Range Librarian › Hachette Job, and Other Pre-LIANZA Musings

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