Although the name Chomolungma may be quite the tongue-twister, the amber brown ale brew’s flavor notes rolled delightfully off the judges’ tongues at the 2019 Honey Beer Competition, winning top honors. The nut brown ale brewed with wildflower honey came out on top out of almost 300 entries, and Head Brewer and Co-Director of Brewing Operations, Seth Morton, shared the story of the beer and brewing with honey.
How did you come up with the idea for Chomolungma? Of course, we need to talk about the name!
In May of 2007, our owner Art Oestrike's brother, Brian Oestrike, summited Mount Everest to raise money for the LUNGevity Foundation, a lung cancer-focused nonprofit. Art and Brian's mother, Jackie, who had never been a smoker, had passed away from lung cancer on June 14, 2006.
Newcastle Brown Ale was a favorite of Jackie's (who was born in England), and then-brewer Brad Clark created the recipe for Chomolungma in an American interpretation of the British classic. The beer was named for the word Tibetans use for Mount Everest, meaning "Goddess Mother of Mountains." When it came time to choose the core lineup of beers to be released in cans from our production brewery in 2012-2013, this meant-to-be-one-off beer had become the third best-seller at our brewpub. It was first packaged in cans in May of 2013, and it has been a favorite between our customers and staff alike for many years.
What prompted you to enter Chomolungma into the honey beer comp again?
Chomolungma is a very special beer to all of us; we knew we had to enter it! We also entered it into the competition in 2018 and received an award for it.
Let’s talk about brewing with honey. What role does the honey play in Chomolungma?
For Chomolungma specifically, honey boosts gravity and adds a dryness to the finished beer. The flavor of wildflower honey complements the traditional American hops we use in the beer. We have used honey in brewing across a broad range of styles, with great success. Once you learn the flavor profiles of different honeys, you then get to explore what each honey can add to different beers. The honey we use in Chomolungma is wildflower honey, sourced from Ohio-based apiaries. For that beer alone, we use close to 20 gallons a month.
Can you describe the flavor of Chomolungma in 10 words or fewer?
Toasty bread, fig with floral honey and herbal hop tones.
Do you plan on making any more brews with honey in the future?
We have a lot of honey beers in the works! We have our annually-released Bourbon barrel-aged Wheatwine, Wood Ya Honey, which we'll begin blending soon. We have a massive Belgian Honey Stout, a collaboration with our friends at Oxbow Brewing Company, aging in Bourbon barrels. That's aging right beside a Meadowfoam honey Tripel, also in Bourbon barrels.