Honey Beer Summit Attendee Readies Pollinator Week Beer

Derek Brown Interview 2

Each year, the National Honey Board’s Honey Beer Summit brings brewers from across the country together to share information, learn technical tips and get inspired to brew the next great honey beer.

Attendee Derek Brown of Minneapolis-based Town Hall Brewery attended the Honey Beer Summit in 2022 and was inspired to perfect his annual Pollinator Week release: Pollen Party.

This golden ale has a 7.3% ABV and is brewed with Vienna malt and wheat, Hallertau Mittelfruh and Fuggle hops, and a blend of garden herbs. For the honey, the brewery went with dandelion honey, because according to Derek, it’s bright, crushable, floral and lemony.

“No one is out there eating dandelions, so we’re trying to invoke that dandelion character into the beer,” Brown said. “Chamomile is an herbal injection and lemongrass gives you the lemon from the earth. Dandelion marries into that really well.”

The annual release is marketed specifically in time for “No Mow May,” which encourages people to hold off on mowing their lawns until dandelions and clover can blossom, and bees can gather much-needed nectar. 2023 will be the sixth release of Pollen Party.

“I try to get Pollen Party in the tank as early as possible — February to early March,” Brown said. “The neat thing about Pollen Party — yeah we’re using 20% of dandelion honey —but the magic of honey is time. As soon as we see dandelions popping up, we begin, and in Minnesota, it can be a waiting game.”

In Pollen Party, the honey is added on the hot side of the brewing process, during whirlpool. Honey accounts for an impressive 20% of the fermentables in the beer.

“In my professional career I fell into honey; it’s kind of in my lane,” Brown said. “There were a lot of things to take away from the Honey Beer Summit, technique and honey varieties I’m interested in sourcing. Hearing other people’s techniques and knowing I was onto something fermenting with honey.”

One unique technique Brown incorporates is treating honey beers like lager, letting the beer rest in tanks for eight weeks until it’s deemed “clean” of any overly aggressive yeasty flavors.

Brown said he would love to collaborate on future honey beers and is open to brewing with other varietals of honey in the United States. Ready to collaborate with Brown, brew a delicious honey beer or attend the next Honey Beer Summit? Reach out by filling out this form or emailing [email protected].