Hop Butcher For The World’s They Who Bear Honey

Beer Reviews by | Jun 2017 | Issue #125

I love the fact that this is a dry-hopped Pale Ale. I find it a bit easier to delve into the nuances of a hop when the bitterness is at a more moderate level. Right away the Mosaic hop character is noticeable, though the distinctive Southern Star adds much more to the aroma. My sense of smell picks up peach pits, wild flowers, bay leaves, and mild pine. The addition of blueberry honey also gives this beer a deeper smoothness and adds to the complexity with hints of earthy blueberry.

Curious about the style, I asked owner Jeremiah Zimmer what makes They Who Bear Honey an International Pale Ale. “The inspiration behind the name, artwork, and recipe was derived from the Southern Star hop, what it brings to the beer, and the region (Outeniqua) of South Africa the hops come from,” he says. “We took a stab [at it], respectfully and playfully stretching the style name to align with that and hopefully help[ing] create a bit more awareness than usual for those hops.”

With the use of uncommon hops and blueberry honey, you’d think there would be some trial and error involved, but Zimmer assured me that they were pretty much spot on with the initial batch. “In this instance, we wanted a pleasant, darker-colored, easy-drinking Pale Ale with restrained notes of honey, blueberry, and pine,” he explains. “None overpowering, but all harmonizing. [We] nailed it on the first shot, but we had some thoughts on what we might tweak moving forward. Feedback has been positive enough, though, that I’m starting to second guess those thoughts.”

As with many beers that have random production schedules dictated by hop contracts, Zimmer alluded to the uncertain future of They Who Bear Honey. “We do intend to brew this one more than once, but we do not currently have any flagships, so everything comes and goes. … We were able to get our hands on 44 pounds of Southern Star on spot [last year], but find ourselves in the position of waiting for our 2017 contract to hit this summer so we can make more. Once we have a more steady stream of the hop behind the beer, it’ll get made more regularly for sure.” In light of recent news about AB InBev possibly holding South African hops hostage, this beer and many others could be in jeopardy.

They Who Bear Honey stays true to style for a Pale Ale and is very well balanced from start to finish. The flow from hop pungency to mild sweetness to a dry, bready graininess also proves that this brew was well thought out. This beer is all about nuances and that’s something that makes it so much more inviting.

They Who Bear Honey
Hop Butcher For The World | Chicago, IL
STYLE: American Pale Ale
ABV: 6.0%
AVAILABILITY: Rotating (Greater Chicago area)
Look: 3.75 | Smell: 4 | Taste: 3.75 | Feel: 4.5 | Overall: 4
Jason’s Score: 3.94/5 

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