I paid a visit to the Route 6 Liquors in Channahon on Friday to get the update for their Beer Menus. The owner lady pointed out three of the newbies and I quickly scribbled down names and packaging and prices. When that task was done, I spent a little time scanning what was available on the shelves. Rte. 6 was usually pretty good at getting lucky when it came to new beer releases.
I caught a glimpse of just one of those newbie beers, oddly packaged so I had to check it twice. In a rather nondescript yellow sixpack carton was a Flying Dog beer without all the drippy, dark Ralph Steadman artwork. The carton looked spartan (!) in comparison to what one (me) would expect when it came to picking out Flying Dog beers on a shelf. Even the name was short and sweet (pfft!) Bee Beer.
Trying to read anything on the label that wasn’t in black ink was damn near impossible. Who the hell prints small text in light orange on a white label? Flying Dog does. Maybe DFH does it too but it’s not wise from a marketing standpoint. The only thing I read on the label was in black. Ale brewed with honey and bee pollen.
I bought it anyway figuring I’d be able to write about how many legs and wings and pollen chunks I could see floating in my beer.
Once home and in some good bright light, I used a magnifying lens to see what was written on one of the label’s side panels:
Every year, at least one Brewhouse Rarity is chosen for its connection to our local agriculture. But this beer is more than that. It’s a platform to educate and encourage everyone to take action against the bee colony collapse that poses a serious threat to all aspects of our ecosystem. So drink up, and head over to our website to learn more.
I couldn’t find anything on their website about bees was a video of theirs (shown below) and Black Honey IPA. That particular beer is not being brewed anymore. Butchya never know.
Beer rating sites list this beer as a saison style. It would be interesting to see how it compares to some of the saisons I’ve had in the past.
Let’s drink some beer.
The beer poured a deep golden yellow color, crystal clear (no bee parts) and hardly brought up any foam head. Maybe about an eighth inch of white stuff and it probably disappeared within minutes. The carbonation was there, but it was minimal. The aroma was very slight and hardly detectable.
The first sip was unusual. There was a big slug of sweetness and then the taste flattened right out just before swallowing. Judging from the taste, the style is close to a saison, as specified by Flying Dog’s website. However, it is not a true saison when the flavors are lost at the swallow.
The fact that the carbonation is minimal may be a big deal in why this beer tasted the way it did. Or it could be something else entirely. But what I was drinking was a very sweet pale ale.The taste of the beer contradicts almost every fact stated about it. Flying Dog classifies it as one of their Brewhouse Rarities. Nothing in the taste of this beer says “rare.” They claim it has a “spicy and funky Saison base.” Belgian Pilsner malt and honey with saison yeast may put you in the ballpark, but spicy and funky it ain’t. I bet the ladies would like the taste of this beer though.
A little Googling showed me that bee pollen is an actual product you can buy. It’s sold as a supplement to promote general health without getting too specific about how it does it. That would make Bee Beer a health tonic. That’s one redeeming factor. But how bee pollen would affect the taste of beer is beyond me. The honey should be enough, wouldn’t you think?
Bee Beer is sure to be a hit with the ladies whose palates are tuned to the high frequency sweetness tastes. However, the price of Bee in comparison to that of Leinie’s Shandies would be cost prohibitive.
In my opinion, the Bee Beer is a decent drinking beer even though it misses the mark on style and looks more like a wine than a beer in the glass five minutes after pouring. This “rare” beer can stay that way as far as I’m concerned. I’ll settle for a readily available and “unrare” Ommegang Hennepin any day of the week.
Style: Saison/Farmhouse ale
Taste: Sweet and a bit odd, but sweet.
Smoothness: It’s smooth and sweet. Have a few before the sweet kills you.
Bang for the buck: Caveat emptor.
Amount paid: $11.99 per sixpack of 12-ouncee bottles.
Get it again? Nope.
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: No foam. Sorta does look like honey. (sniff) Still has that beer scent to it but sweeter. (sip) It’s… It’s not.. it’s weird. (sip) Not a lot to it but its sweet. (sip) I’m not impressed. (We speak the same language despite her being from Venus.)
Flying Dog and local bees [0:53]