A beer now being served up at Steel & Oak Brewing Co. has a distinctively New West flavour.
The local craft brewery collaborated with the New Westminster Beekeeping Association to produce Smoked Honey Doppelbock, a double-strength lager with beechwood smoked malt and local honey from New West’s own urban beekeepers.
“We used 60 kilograms of New West honey in this year’s batch of Smoked Honey Doppelbock,” said Eric Moutal, head brewer at S&O. “It adds the perfect amount of sweetness to balance the smokiness of the malt.”
Britney Cunningham said it’s “that liquid gold” that makes the 2022 Smoked Honey Doppelbock so tasty. She met with John Gibeau, who is in charge of education and membership for the New Westminster Beekeeping Association.
“While producing honey is delicious, the biggest value of beekeeping is pollination,” Gibeau told Cunningham.
The New Westminster Beekeeping Association is a non-profit registered society that provides training, education and a sense of community to local members. Established in 2015, the club owns a collective of 16 hives, each hive houses up to 30,000 bees and can produce around 150 litres of honey per year.
Smoked Honey Doppelbock, now available at Steel & Oak’s tasting room and at local liquor stores, is the recipient of some of that honey.
Jorden Foss, co-owner of Steel & Oak, said the Smoked Honey Doppelbock is one of the beers S&O brews every year.
In past years, Foss said the brewery got honey from the Honeybee Centre, which has been great to deal with. But this year, the brewery thought it would be cool to go with honey from hives in New West, after learning about the group through a couple of its members.
“It worked out really well that way,” he said. “We were able to get 60 kilograms of local New West honey, which is really neat. So, hopefully, we'll be able to continue to do that every year now with the New West Beekeeping Association, now that we know that they can supply enough honey for us. It's a pretty unique experience. Anytime you can do anything with an ingredient that you can walk to is wonderful.”
And just how does this year’s brew taste with made in New West honey?
“Often, the honey that we've had previously has been super sweet, and this honey it is actually not,” Foss told the Record. “It's a little more subtle in sweetness, and that's actually in a good way. We don't want the beer to be too sweet.”
Foss said the beer contains smoked malt, which helps offset that sweetness. He said the honey has notes of lavender and flowers – but that could change yearly, based where the bees are getting their nectar from.
“It’s really neat because the beer really can change depending on what kind of honey you get and what those bees have done that year,” he said.
Foss said the brewery is hoping to team up with local beekeepers next year, and it will be interesting to compare and contrast the taste of the 2022 and 2023 product – and see what effects the weather and other factors may have on the Smoked Honey Doppelbock.
“This is one of those situations in beer, which we are normally pretty controlled with, where seasonality and what was in bloom can affect the flavour of the beer,” he said.