A German-style pilsner from Chambersburg, Penn. took home silver at this year’s Honey Beer Competition, and Ryan Richards, head brewer of Roy-Pitz Brewing Company spoke with us about this brew that celebrates the start of Spring every year. With aromas and flavors of orange blossom honey, clove, cream, orange and vanilla, the judges were transported to warmer temperatures and cool breezes with this pilsner truly made with love in mind.
Take us back to the beginning of Honey Sucker Pils. It was first released in 2013, correct?
The roots for the recipe and idea for Honey Sucker Pils goes back to the year I was married to my wife Sarah in June 2013. At the time, I was working on a new recipe for our spring seasonal. I am a big fan of sessionable summer lagers (I think Sierra Nevada's Summer Lager and Victory Throwback Lager were my fave at the time) and making a smooth easygoing lager with a dash of honey sounded delicious. So we decided to launch the beer in honor of our wedding day, and Honey Sucker became such a big hit with all our family and friends that day.
How do the ingredients, especially orange blossom honey, make Honey Sucker so special?
Honey Sucker Pils is brewed with German malts, American and German hops and a healthy dose of orange blossom honey. It snarls a floral bouquet of honeysuckle aromas, orange honey flavors with a slight bitterness leading to an easy finish. We tasted all the honey we were sourcing from our supplier and decided that orange blossom was our favorite and would be perfect in a spring/summer lager. The light, fresh and sweet orange honey flavors/aromas complement the creamy German lager yeast and have a nice contrast with the bitterness from the hops.
What do you think is the driving force behind why the judges gravitated toward this beer at the competition?
Take us through how you use honey in this beer. What role did you want honey to play in the beer?
We add the honey during the primary fermentation of the product. We want the flavors and aromas of the orange blossom honey to shine and be on the forefront of the taste buds, so we add an ample amount of honey during this phase of the process. This also ensures all the fermentable sugars of the honey are consumed by the yeast and the yeast finishes out the fermentation. Once the yeast consumes the fermentable sugars from the honey we are left with a wonderful orange honey flavor and aroma in the beer without all the extra residual sweetness from the honey lingering in the beverage.
When you take a sip of Honey Sucker Pils, what’s your personal favorite thing about the beer?
It's an experience kinda like liquid nirvana. At Roy-Pitz our slogan is “Liquid Art.” Every brand starts with a story, and then a painting gets developed for the brand and label. Honey Sucker Pils has a great name and amazing artwork. The art was an original oil on canvas painting crafted by Will Hemsley out of Easton, Md. He is a relative to our ownership here at Roy-Pitz and has painted a majority of our beer labels; this one for sure is one of his best. I can't find anything else like it out in the marketplace. The label is a piece of art, the name stands out, and the beverage is super unique, priced right, delicious and drinkability is very high. My personal favorite beer we make here at Roy-Pitz with over 50 different recipes. Great year-round beer.
For more information on the Honey Beer Competition, visit http://honeybeercompetition.com/.