This story begins nearly two years ago, back in the summer of 2017. Local brewery Urban Chestnut hosted the National Honey Beer Summitt, and after that UCBC Lab Specialist, Amanda Mikolay got busy. Busy as a bee.
“The year after we first hosted the National Honey Beer Summit – we networked with local city hive groups and sourced our first hives the next year,” said Mikolay.
The hives were originally kept on the roof at the Grove brewery but were moved to a sheltered space between the warehouses on the north side of the brewery, because of the heat.
Harvest season is held in July when the bees are in full swing collecting nectar from the surrounding flowering plants. Harvesting in July is extremely important so that hives can collect more nectar between August through October so they have enough food to last the winter.
A big reason why UCBC chooses to maintain their own hives is not only about production, but also their commitment to sustainability-focused brewing methods. “These intentional measures help us be a better global and local citizen,” said Mikolay. “The hives support our local pollination efforts. We operate a city garden on-site and support city gardening actively through donations. Any honey we get from the hives that we don’t use in brewing can be used creatively to support local apiarists and city gardens.”
New Brew A Buzzin!
Aside from her day job at Urban Chestnut, Mikolay is also a proud member of the local Pink Boot Society chapter. The PBS are the female movers and shakers in the beer industry. They own breweries, package the beer, design beers, serve beers, write about beer, and cover just about any aspect of beer, and they are all women.
Recently, Mikolay and the group was approached by the National Honey Board, a federally funded organization that encourages honey for consumer products nationwide, to brew a honey beer. This opportunity included all the honey they would need for brewing along with $5,000 for additional brewing costs.
“After a discussion with our chapter, we decided to utilize the resources of 2nd Shift Brewing and co-owner Libby Crider, to accomplish this feat,” said Mikolay. “Our goal with this honey beer is to utilize the profits gained from sales to fund a St. Louis scholarship.”
The National Honey Board is using this project to begin a scholarship as well for their National Honey Beer Summit which they hold twice a year (one in Austin around the beginning of May, and the second at the end of August in St. Louis) for the Pink Boots Society.
In early October, the brewing got underway!
“We were able to brew about 250 gallons of an Imperial Stout utilizing melter honey as part of the fermentable sugars,” said Mikolay.
In a collaboration beer, the choice of what to actually brew is intriguing. With 2nd Shift volunteering as the brew’s home, it was decided to base this beer off 2nd Shift’s seasonal Cat Spit Spout, but the volume of honey gave them a higher gravity resulting in an imperial stout. Gravity or OG for Original Gravity is a measurement used by brewers to determine the future alcohol content of a beer fermented from a particular wort. The OG on this beer was 22, so it should be at ABV that will keep us all warm this winter.
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