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Homebrew #11: Honestatis (Mk. II)

by Rob Friesel

My eleventh homebrew is a slight variation on my ninth. In that vein Honestatis (Mk. II) is the first recipe I liked enough to make a second time:

First of the second batch of Honestatis! Bring on Thursday night's competition. #untappd #homebrewing

Right out of the gate here, full disclosure: I brewed this beer for the Home Brew Night Summer Brews event at ArtsRiot in Burlington. I felt so good about my first batch of Honestatis, that when my friend Becca mentioned the competition, I knew exactly what I wanted to enter.

(Plus or minus a couple of little tweaks to dial in certain flavors, of course.)

Thus, the first order of business was to make those modifications and get my ingredients together. The main goals here:

  1. Minimum 5 gallon yield. Because that’s what I needed for the competition.
  2. Match the target O.G. to actual O.G. I was happy about landing at 1.067 last time, so I figured I should (you know) target 1.067 this time.
  3. Up the smoke, up the spice. I wanted to bump up the proportion of smoked malt and rye1 in the steeping grains this time around, to make those flavors a bit more pronounced.
  4. Get some earthy aroma hops in there. This being re: the Columbia/Columbus mix-up last time; and if I couldn’t get Columbia, then Fuggle would be an acceptable substitution.

Other adjustments would be in support of those objectives.2

Brew day fell on July 4th, and the story of the boil is much the same as others. I got my little helper and we steeped and boiled and stirred and added hops and cooled and pitched a double dose of US-05.

Honestatis Mk. II #homebrewing

And that double dose was fortuitous because my starting gravity turned out to be 1.076, rather than the planned 1.067.3 Regardless, fermentation went well and seemed to follow a pretty similar curve as the previous batch.4

comparing fermentations

Despite some healthy and vigorous bubbling though, attenuation wasn’t quite on par with the previous batch — 71.6% (Mk. II) vs. 79.1% (Mk. I). Both are within the range that I commonly see reported, but it’s on the lower end of what I’ve previously observed. (Granted, it’s also the highest O.G. that I’ve produced…) Nevertheless, the final gravity reading was 1.021, giving an ABV of 7.4%.5

A little corn sugar and about two weeks (and some mild agitation) later and I had 49 × 12 oz. bottles ready for the competition.

Bottling day. #homebrewing

Oh… And I kept one for myself. For quality control. To make sure that what I was bringing to the competition was suitably carbonated and delicious.

Night of the Competition

Honestatis: all set up and ready to pour. #homebrewing

August 13th came and I made all my last-minute preparations. I got my bags of ice for the cooler. I printed and assembled my signage. I found a bucket or two that I could use for spitters and yeast dregs. I went down to ArtsRiot (a little later than planned) with my two cases worth of Honestatis and set up my station.

The first part of the night was all about the brewers. We got to mingle, sample each others’ creations6, and do our own early round voting for the Brewers’ Choice award. This was followed by a half-hour discussion with Dan Sartwell (Brewmaster for 14th Star7) about the role of malts in brewing and how to best use them for flavor, color, and body. This part of the night was also the highlight for me, partly because it was a little more laid-back, and partly because of Dan. I’ll be up-front about this: I was very flattered that he spent what must have been about four or five minutes at my station drinking and chatting about Honestatis. He kept sniffing and sipping, trying to pin down the source of the esters, asking me about fermentation temps and how I’d treated my rye and cherry-smoked malts, asking me how long I’d been playing the homebrew game. This alone would have been enough — but then he asked me to pour him just a little bit more, and that there was my favorite moment.

At 7:30, the doors opened to the public and it was pretty much a packed hour right from the start. I got a fair amount of traffic, pouring 32 bottles. Quite a few people came back two, three, even four times. At least three people asked me where they could buy it or how they could otherwise get a hold of it8 and that it was the kind of thing that they would order if it was on draught somewhere. Some of them were even courteous enough to check-in on Untappd:

Travis S.:9

4 beers stood out to me in that comp and yours was one of em.

Kyle T.:

Had this at Arts Riot last night, it won my vote for the best beer there. I wish I could’ve brought it all home

Syd K.:

Earthy. Hints of cherry. Very very good. 4 stars

Kenneth W.:10

Big fluffy head, rich backbone of malt, nice balanced bitterness, piney nose, slightly fruity, like plum or pluot. This is really good

At the end of the night, I felt pretty good. Though I didn’t win, I felt like I’d developed a cult following. The event’s organizer brought it up11 that I’d placed highly in the running, though not quite enough to put me over into the top three. Just the same, I would do this again in a heartbeat, and it was a great validation of the beer. As I told a couple of people Thursday night:

This was the beer I was born to drink, so I’m glad I figured out how to make it.


The extract recipe for Honestatis is as follows (and feel free to compare with the original recipe).

Steeping Grains

  • ⅝ lb. flaked barley
  • 1¾ lb. Crystal Rye
  • ⅝ lb. Cherry-Smoked Malt


  • 5 lb. amber DME
  • 4½ lb. amber LME

Hop Schedule

  • 1 oz. Galena (60 min.)
  • 1 oz. Galena (20 min.)
  • 1 oz. Fuggle (flame-out)


  • Fermentis Safale US-05 (2 × sachets)

Brew Day

  1. Collect 3 gal. water and heat to 170°F.
  2. Steep the steeping grains for 170°F for 30 min.
  3. Add fermentables and bring to a boil; add 1 oz. Galena hops.
  4. Boil for 60 minutes; add 1 oz. Galena hops with 20 minutes remaining.
  5. Add Fuggle hops at flame-out.
  6. Cool to 100°F as rapidly as possible and top off the fermenter to reach 6 gal.
  7. Aerate wort and pitch Safale US-05 yeast when the temperature is in the right range.

Beyond Brew Day

  1. After fermentation completes, rack to a carboy.
  2. Allow beer to condition for approx. 2 weeks.
  3. Corn sugar to carbonate on bottling day.
  4. Allow for about 2 weeks to carbonate.
  5. Enjoy.


Honestatis, an original American amber ale by Tilde Gravitywerks

Original Gravity 1.074 (17.8%Br)
Final Gravity 1.021 (9.8%Br)
ABV 7.4%
Attenuation 71.62%
IBU 36.25
SRM 19.57
Links Untappd
  1. 5%, up from 4%, and 14%, up from 12%, respectively. []
  2. For example, scaling the amber extracts for gravity and color, or else adjusting the hop bill to get that target IBU. []
  3. As an aside: this has been the cause of much head-scratching for me. I couldn’t really explain the higher-than-expected gravity on the first batch, but I had a sneaking suspicion that it was a combination of (1) having slightly more extract than I’d planned and (2) when I topped off, I didn’t hit the full 5 gallons that I’d planned. On this batch, I did plan for a higher gravity, but I also planned to start with 6 gallons in the fermenter, and I was paying extra attention to the quantities I was working with. So in that sense, I’m running out of ideas. I doubt that I’m getting all that much extra fermentable sugar from the steeping grains. And I’ve double-checked all my equipment (i.e., hydrometer and refractometer). I suppose the extracts that I’m purchasing have more fermentable sugar in them than I’m estimating but… I don’t know, seems like a stretch. []
  4. As I’ve cited before, I’m using bubbles-per-minute in the airlock as an adjunct for the rate of fermentation. I know it’s not exactly accurate, but it’s easily observable. []
  5. Nevertheless, the beer still finishes pretty dry. Dry enough that Dan Sartwell (brewmaster for 14th Star) almost didn’t believe that the finishing gravity was 1.021. []
  6. []
  7. Dan is featured prominently in this video from Two Brews about this year’s Make The Cut competition. []
  8. I tried to explain that it was technically against the law for me (as a homebrewer) to sell to anyone (“…but what if like $6 just sort of fell out of my pocket onto the table?”) but that if they wanted to be my friend then gifts could happen. []
  9. Full disclosure: I work with Travis. []
  10. Full disclosure: technically this was the next day, hand-delivered to this friend and co-worker. []
  11. Unsolicited, I swear! []

About Rob Friesel

Software engineer by day, science fiction writer by night; weekend homebrewer. Author of The PhantomJS Cookbook and a short story in Please Do Not Remove. View all posts by Rob Friesel →

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