Swamp Head “Wild Night Honey Cream Ale” AND B. Nektar Meadery’s “Zombie Killer”

April 9, 2013

We’ve been seeing East Hill Honey being sold and talked about all across town. It’s always nice when a small business can get the entire community buzzing.

Wow. Thoroughly unintentional pun. Fear not, I’m giving myself a time out as punishment.

Seriously, though. Honey is one of those perfect products; plant and crop pollination, no refining necessary, energy booster, multiple purported health benefits… and it tastes good, too! To have a local apiarist plying a boutique trade all on their own is just one more reason to stay out of the big box stores and shop Pensacola.

Beer-wise, honey just isn’t an ingredient used very often. I guess it’s not “manly” enough for most people. Weird, though, that one can go out to a sports bar while the big game is on and find plenty of barrel-chested alpha males scarfing down honey-barbeque wings/ribs/spinach dip/Caesar salad… but never be so dainty as to allow honey in their beer.

I kid about the food in sports bars, but watch: I’ll have accidentally launched a new menu. Back off, Guy Fieri, this one’s mine!
There are a couple of items I just tried that do use honey in a grown-up fashion. Let’s begin with something from our own state.
Swamp Head Brewery & Tasting Room hails from Gainesville, home of the Gators, and does a great job associating Sunshine State regionalism into their tasty beer. Their Wild Night Honey Cream Ale uses Tupelo honey. Tupelo gum trees are found in the marshy areas around the Apalachicola and Chipola Rivers running through our state and a good portion of Georgia. This rare honey is highly regarded and makes a wonderful addition to Swamp Head’s beer.

Very light bodied and crisp with soft, creamy edges, it’s brightest yellow gold with eggshell-white head leaving almost no lacing; a function of the minimal hop usage. Scents and flavors are both light grain with citrus and some faint pear and flowers coming by way of the Tupelo. Never heavy, Wild Night is incredibly drinkable.
Going a totally different direction is B. Nektar Meadery’s Zombie Killer. This is a mead/cider hybrid utilizing tart cherry juice. Mead is essentially honey wine and in the wrong hands can end up sickly sweet. Not so with Zombie Killer; the blending with the apple cider lends a tart edge to balance out the sugar. The cherries amplify the sour aspects and add another layer of flavor. It tastes like it advertises; undead eradication prowess to be determined. This is equal parts fleshy Bing cherry, cinnamon-vanilla apple and distinctive floral honey.