Clouds on the Horizon: Be Excited

People often ask us what the best thing about brewing with honey is. Depending on the mood of the staff, the answers vary.

Ricky loves that honey dissolves fully in water, so he doesn’t have to climb into the mash-tun to shovel out grain like he would at a brewery.

Kelly jokes that she actually hates honey because it’s sweet, but that mead is awesome because it’s the best part of honey without all the damned sugar.

Erik from Havoc really likes that working with honey can provide him a way to support pollinator health and food security in a mutually lucrative and beneficial way.

The one thing that they all agree on is that the greatest challenge of honey is also what makes it the most fun: Honey changes every year.

Since we use a cold-processed honey at Groennfell Meadery, we don’t have a big commercial plant stripping all of the pollen, particulates, and varietal character out of our honey. That means that late springs, early falls, rough winters, rainy summers, changes in flora, new queens, climate change, and a million other factors play into the final taste profile of the honey we use.

One of our tricks for smoothing out the changes in characteristics from harvest to harvest is that we always use honey from multiple seasons in each batch. For example, Chaos Cyser uses about 1800 pounds of honey, so we try to use two drums from a fall harvest and one from the spring.

As we mentioned, however, there are a lot of factors that go into what gives a honey its special charm. The newest batch of Valkyrie’s Choice is a great example of that. Take a look:
Crazy, right? Same yeast, same temperatures, same apiary, same process. The only thing that changed was switching from two drums of fall 2013 plus one drum of spring 2014 to one drum of spring 2014 and two from fall 2014.

The flavor profile is pretty similar, but with a slightly richer honey note on the start of the palate. The biggest changes are visual: The new batch is a little cloudy and distinctly more straw yellow than gold.

This batch will be on tap at the meadery in the next few weeks and shipping out to stores as Farrell finishes selling the last batch.

Keep an eye out and be excited, meadiacs: Valkyrie’s Choice continues to impress.

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