By Wesley Case - Contact Reporter
The Baltimore Sun
Flying Dog University professor Justin Tarnow — yes, the Maryland brewery has a public beer-education program — pitched his beer idea as a part of the small-batch Brewhouse Rarities collection after reading about bee colony collapse disorder. (It’s the phenomenon when a colony’s worker bees disappear, leaving behind the queen and leading to the loss of hives, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.)
When he saw Maryland was particularly struggling with the issue, Tarnow knew Flying Dog should contribute to righting the wrong.
“Bees are such a big part of the agricultural industry,” Tarnow said. “It just seemed like a good opportunity.”
Flying Dog’s Bee Beer (7 percent ABV) is currently fermenting, but Tarnow is encouraged by early samples. (This American Saison releases at the brewery Sept. 30, and will be available throughout Baltimore the following week.) For brewing, Flying Dog used pollen sourced from Lord Byron’s Honey Apiary in Thurmont, and buckwheat honey from an apiary in Nebraska. (The lack of the latter in Maryland underscores the need for stronger bee colonies, Tarnow said.)
The most important part of the beer to Tarnow is the honey’s presence, and making sure it comes through strongly.
“Usually when a brewer does use honey in the beer, I’d say most people are kind of disappointed because they’re expecting there to be a little bit of honey sweetness afterward,” Tarnow said. “We wanted there to be a very pronounced honey flavor.”
For those further interested in the colony collapse issue, Flying Dog will hand out purple coneflower seed packets (sourced from Chesapeake Valley Seed in Savage) at the brewery to coincide Bee Beer's release. The purple coneflower is the best pollinator plant for the area, so Tarnow hopes, regardless of how customers feel about the beer’s taste, others will make use of seeds.
“If it’s just the seed packet that someone got out of this, I still see it as winning,” he said.
For more information about the beer release, and to learn about Purple Coneflower planting instructions and care, visit the Flying Dog blog.