Kalona Brewing Company is known for utilizing local ingredients in their beers whenever possible.
That philosophy is apparent in its two summer honey brews.
“We use honey from Ebert Honey,” head brewer Warren “W” Yoder said. “They’re Iowa hives and Iowa aviaries. They’re out of Lynnville and Mount Vernon, and they have hives all around the area.”
He said that Ebert makes a great clover honey.
“I know it’s local,” Yoder said. “I know how it’s produced.”
The honey is used in brewing Good Day Sunshine, a honey wheat beer, and Free Range, a honey Kolsch.
“We found that they’ve been good styles for the summer – lighter in (alcohol by volume), lighter in style, less hoppy,” Yoder said. “The grains we use with them really let the honey shine through.”
Yoder explained that he has long been interested in brewing with honey.
“Before I started brewing, I was introduced to mead, which is a honey wine,” he said. “It was mead-making that sparked my interest in honey. (Honey) is a natural fermenting sugar. Mead is arguably the oldest fermented drink in the world.
“I still make mead to this day. It’s one of the things that brought me into brewing. Taking something that is available, like grain and honey, and making something that will bring people together. It’s what we all enjoy about this.”
When he began brewing beer, he developed a simple Kolsch recipe and decided to add honey.
“We’ve sort of tweaked it from that time, four or five years ago, to what we have now,” Yoder said. “For our purposes, I’ll throw the honey at the end of the boil. You can put honey in the boil, at the end of the boil or in fermentation. I choose to do it at the end of the boil to make sure it kills any wild stuff that might still be there, and I want as much as the honey flavor to come through.”
In 2017, Good Day Sunshine won a bronze award for Best Honey Wheat Beer in the National Honey Board’s annual beer competition.
“We’re kind of proud because it gives us recognition,” Yoder said. “We don’t brew for awards, but it’s nice to get some recognition.”