I was searching for interesting facts about honey for this post. The first place to look for such things is of course the internet. Facts on the internet and chain e-mails are much more interesting than real facts because someone has made them up. For example I read somewhere that an apple has more stimulant in than a cup of coffee, a swan can break your arm with a blow of its nose and that you can overcome cardiac arrest by coughing in a determined way (the middle one was a Peter Cook line but the other two were real). If this tells us anything I suppose it is to never believe anything you read on line, particularly on this blog.
According to a honey-themed website, 80% of all plants in the US are pollinated by honey bees. I was left wondering how this fact was arrived at. Did they film all the flowers in the US and find that honey bees pollinated 80% of them? Another interesting fact was that drone bees do not collect nectar or possess a sting. Instead their sole purpose in life is to fertilise virgins. So the insect equivalent of a Spanish holiday rep.
Honey is once again on my recipe spreadsheet for the next seasonal beer, Honey Gold. Honey is an aqueous sugar solution produced by bees from nectar collected from flowers which they regurgitate when back at the hive (mmmmm bee vomit!). One of the sugars in honey is melibiose which is a disaccharide of glucose and galactose. Traditional ale yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae cannot ferment melibiose although lager yeast Saccharomyces
uvarum pastorianus can (have I lost you there?). Honey can therefore be used to add sweetness to ales. This is a good thing because it allows ale brewers to use more hops and still achieve a good balance. I like to take this a step further and use some spice to further sharpen the flavour. Honey aroma is also a very good canvass on which to paint with citrus and spice hop notes as it is warm and earthy. In this beer I have Simpsons low colour cara to boost the honey’s presence in the body without adding the darker toffee notes associated with crystal malt. This affords even more hop presence without pulling the beer out of shape.
And so to the hops. Hop addition in this beer is pan-global. Galaxy hops from Tasmania (don’t ask me where I got them from!) rub shoulders with Aurora from Slovenia and Citra from the US. All three of these varieties provide fruit notes but from a complementary angle. The blend it is hoped will be irresistible. I say hoped because the beer is still in FV21. Supporting this, Pilgrim and Northdown provide a typically English moderation to the bitterness. Spice comes in the form of Indian ginger which is included as much for heat as it is for confectioner’s ginger notes.
I hope that you love it and trust that you will tell me otherwise!