If you’ve avoided honey beers because they’re “too sweet,” you’re missing out: Honey does smooth out a brew and give it some sweetness, but that’s balanced by honey’s other best quality: earthy, floral dryness. An already sweet blonde or cream ale can heighten the sweet factor, but these six beers spotlight honey’s more nuanced flavors for scrumptious, summery swallows.
Bison Honey Basil: Fresh, whole-leaf basil lends a dewy, green quality to the dose of clover honey in this 6%-ABV brew. Basil doesn’t bring its usual pungency—and that’s a good thing, ’cause the delicate sweetness has room to shine; the herb rears up in the end to dry out the crisp sip. Bonus: The beer’s certified organic!
Squatters Bumper Crop Honey Ale: Open the bottle and breathe in whiff after whiff of heavenly lavender. The soft, mellow 5.5%-ABV brew shows off honey’s sweet/dry balance; lavender builds into the finish with its floral, wood and vanilla tones cresting in the back and leaving earthy spice behind.
BRU Beezel: This 9.3%-ABV behemoth laces sharp black pepper and bitter orange peel (think pithy, not sweet) through floral clover honey notes; close your eyes, and you’ll swear you’re sipping a spirit.
Revolver Blood & Honey: Honey from a neighboring apiary gives this 7%-ABV wheat beer its dry fullness; orange and spice lift the honey off the palate. It put the young Texas brewery on the map.
Back Forty Truck Stop Honey Brown: Apparently, honey plus roasted malts equals butterscotch. The Alabama brewery pumps an English-style brown ale full of wildflower honey, and ends up with this laid-back sipper that completely evokes butterscotch; it could be dessert, but it’s an excellent main course.
Almanac Honey Saison: California honey and spicy, tangy ginger root bolster a 4.8%-ABV saison. Wheat in the brew fluffs up the effervescent mouthfeel and lends a tang that connects the ginger to the honey’s smooth dryness.