The popularity of the craft beer industry has spurred new styles and flavors beyond traditional ales and lagers. Honey is the perfect ingredient for craft brews, providing flavor, functional and marketing benefits. From seasonal offerings to foundational brews, honey is finding its way into stouts, spice beers, ales, light beers and lagers.
One of the main reasons craft brewers are drawn to honey is its ability to provide a variety of flavor profiles to match the type of beer being brewed. In the United States alone, there are more than 300 varieties of honey, all with unique flavor profiles, derived from floral sources such as alfalfa, wildflower, buckwheat and tupelo.
These flavors range from light and mild to robust and strong, and brewers can work with other ingredients, such as herbs and spices, to provide a complex flavor profile targeted toward a specific consumer demand.
Why brew with honey
Honey delivers flavor and aroma. It’s not the sweetness that brewers are interested in when using honey in beers. It’s a combination of the aroma and complex flavor that provides a point of distinction not found in any other primary sugar.
Honey is a versatile ingredient. In brewing, honey can be used in countless ways. From drying out the beer to adding aroma to contributing sweetness to bottle conditioning, honey’s role in brewing is vast and diverse.
Honey is an exceptional marketing tool. Similar to other food and beverage products, honey can be used to make product labels stand out. There are countless honey beers on the market using such iconography as bees, hives and honey comb.
Honey gives brewers a unique distinction. The craft beer is flooded with unique brews that use everything from rare fruits to yeasts found in a brewer’s beard. Do you have a unique honey varietal? Brewers would love to get their hands on it.
Check out these innovative brewers capitalizing on honey’s unique capabilities to help craft exceptional beers.
Honey Kolsch, Rogue Ales
This two-time Honey Beer Competition Best in Show winner is the epitome of a honey beer. Crisp and refreshing with an impressive aroma and flavor profile that elevates it about typical Kolsch-style beers. The brewery uses honey from its own Rogue Farms honeybees.
LSD Honey Ale, Indeed Brewing
A unique kaleidoscopic of lavender, sunflower honey and dates set this beer apart from any others. LSD sets the stage for a mind-bending beer experience as electrifying floral aromas dance atop rich notes of fruit and honey.
Midas Touch, Dogfish Head
This sweet yet dry beer is made with ingredients found in 2,700-year-old drinking vessels from the tomb of King Midas. Somewhere between beer, wine and mead, this honey-heavy ale pleases the chardonnay and beer drinker alike. To develop the beer, Dogfish Head worked with biomolecular archaeologist Dr. Patrick McGovern to bring this ancient ale to life.
Nyssa, Toolbox Brewing
This sour farmhouse ale is brewed with tupelo honey and barrel aged and barrel fermented in French oak white wine barrels. The result: a refreshing tart taste from the brettanomyces yeast with an appealing aroma and finish from honey.