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  • Writer's pictureAlex

Hiver Beer and Bee Urban Experience

Hiver beers bee hive
Hiver beers, made with Honey.

Maybe you like beer? And maybe you like honey too? Well for a while now Hiver beers have been making beer with honey (and a mission too).

We recently attended one of Hiver beers collaboration experiences with Bee Urban in Kennington park, and what a lovely experience it was!

Bee urban entrance
Bee Urban at Kennington park

Hiver beers was launched by Hannah Rhodes in 2013. Hannah had been involved in beer for a while and took a Beekeeping course as an aside, and fell in love with it. Honey has been traditionally used in Meade, but it’s not so well known as an adjunct in beer. Fermented out, the honey does not add a sweet taste to the beer, but retains the subtle aromas and complexities of taste that Honey can bring.

Most people will be aware of the plight of Bees nationally, and Hiver works with local Urban beekeepers to buy their honey for use in the beer. This produced a rounded local economy and sustainability is a central pillar of Hiver’s ethos.

Bee Urban is a social enterprise based in Kennington park and works with the local communities to promote urban beekeeping, horticulture and community growth. Set in a delightful corner of Kennington park the centre has a number of hives and buildings for education and sales of honey and equipment, and some wonderful bee-friendly gardens.

The introduction to bees
The highly informative and fascinating introduction to Bees

The Urban experience brings you approximately 2 hours of fascinating explanation and demonstration of beekeeping. Taking you through the basics of bees, through to donning a complete beekeepers suit and visiting the hives to see how the colonies work. Hives need regular inspection and you are taken through it stage by stage, if you feel comfortable you can hold and examine a rack of honeycomb with it’s honey and bees attached! I should say here that firstly you ARE fully suited, but the bees themselves were incredibly docile. What might seem a slightly scary scenario for those nervous of flying insects was in reality a very gentle and pleasant experience. The Bees just got on with their jobs and pretty much ignored everyone. It really was quite an eye opener about how gentle bees really are.

displaying sections of the hive
Examining segments of the Hive

Having been shown the various portions of a hive, the Tutor found and showed us the queen bee. Significantly bigger than the others and handily marked with a blue dot, she is the sole queen for up to 60,000 workers! I would tell you more but really you should go along and listen and watch for yourself. One thing I must say is that sometimes events like these can be a little unbalanced being too simplistic, or too complicated and technical, or perhaps a bit patronising. This was both fascinating and perfectly aimed at the beginner. Usually when the tutor asks “Any questions” there’s often a stony silence, not here! All questions were happily taken and answered fully and with great knowledge and friendliness.

Once we had thoroughly toured the hives we retired back to the centre and the second part of the experience….. the beer tasting!

Holding a bee comb
If you want you can hold some Bees, eveyone did as they were so gentle.

Hiver makes three core beers, Hiver Blonde, Hiver Amber and Hiver Session IPA. Each beer was introduced and given a short rundown on it’s tasting notes and then you get to drink it! Each beer is a little different. The Blonde is brewed with Lager yeast and is clean and refreshing. The aroma of the honey was strongest for me with the Blonde. The Session IPA was interesting, there’s a danger with an IPA that the hops will overpower any honey notes, but the honey used is Tree Ivy Honey. We also tried each of the honeys raw alongside the beer and the Tree Ivy honey was pretty spectacular in my view. Who knew Ivy made such great honey? The final beer was the Amber, brewed with Scottish heather honey. Maltier and slightly roasted, this beer is rich and fruity.

Hiver blonde ale and snacks
Hiver Blonde ale

The Experiences are run in two locations, the Urban in Kennington park in London, and the Rural at the Albourne estate vineyard in Sussex.

Hiver's core range
Hiver's core range

Dates for both locations are available up until mid-September, and run at £42 and £55. This really is a bargain for such an informative, fun, well run event. I can thoroughly recommend it!

Arch 56, Stanworth street

London, SE1 3NY

BeeUrban is at:

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