These two beers were made back in mid-2018 by blending mature, barrel aged golden beers from our cellar with two different types of (Gold and Amber incidentally) natural honey from Bulwarra Bees in the Southern Highlands of NSW. A big thanks to the team at Biota for putting us in touch with Greg.
After fruit season in 2018, our stainless steel refermentation vessels were empty and I was keen to finally test something out I had been thinking about for a while... a honey re-fermentation. So rather than adding honey in the boil, as one might to make a traditional biere-de-miel, I was intrigued by what would happen if we treated the honey in a similar manner as we do with our fruit during harvest, namely blending it with mature beer. So to make both these beers, we selected a few barrels (see notes below for info) of mature, barrel-aged beer and blended them with 20kg each of slightly warmed honey for refermentation. Critically to me, the honey was never boiled, only heated to about 32 degrees so to not inhibit yeast/bacteria colonies and not release precious aromatics. They were re-fermented with this honey in stainless for 6 weeks before bottling on 15 August 2018.
We had wanted to release these beers in early 2019. However, both of these bottlings went through stages showing excess THP (mousiness) from the bacteria in the honey but eventually, the brettanomyces in our house culture broke these down. The results are truly fascinating with a brilliant sweetness in the nose and palate with two extremely dry beers, spending 1 year and 3 months in bottle.
Made from blending three barrels 1735 (7 month old lager base), 1775 (7 month old solera base) and 1778 (7 month old lager base) with 20kg of Bulwarra bees 'light' wild honey and refermenting them for 6 weeks.
At release, the Hive: Gold has strong sweet blossom aromatics which give the nose wonderful lift. Time has given the beer a smooth transition from nose to palate. The honey gives body to the gold beer base without being overwhelming. Strong honey notes on the finish combine beautifully with the citrus character of the base beer. More acidity than Gold... great length. 525 bottles.
Made from blending three barrels 1730 (13 month old 'mother' base), 1603 (5 month old lager base) and another one I must have lost track of (sorry!) with 20kg of Bulwarra bees 'amber' wild honey and refermenting them for 6 weeks.
At release, Hive: Amber has a more robust fuller nose, woody earthy notes from the honey shining through. A bolder honey character through the palate. Sweet flavours carry throughout the palate to a noticeably dry bretty finish softened by the finishing honey flavours. Really lovely... more of an “Australian bushland” beer. 519 bottles.
Like all our beers, Hive: Gold and Hive: Amber are best enjoyed when decanted off a settled natural yeast sediment at cellar temperatures (10-12°C).