Chatting with Central State Brewing

We recently sat down with Josh Hambright, head brewer at Central State Brewing, to learn more about L’Apiculteur, their farmhouse ale made with honey. We talked about the beer and how honey and honey bees inspired them to create an outstanding beer and label, which won them the gold medal in the Design/Packaging category at the National Honey Board’s 2018 Honey Beer Competition.

What was the inspiration behind this beer, and who came up with the recipe?

For this beer, we collaborated with our good friends, Brett and Tia, at New Day Craft.  We go way back with them, and Brett and I are always bouncing ideas off each other. When it came time to formulate this recipe, we knew we wanted to include at least 40% honey and the rest Indiana grown malts. We added elderflower for its complex floral notes, and the black limes add a very rich brightness. We selected a light amber wildflower honey that added depth and complexity to the beer. The label was a collaborative effort between Brett, myself and the folks at Good Beer Hunting studios, who design our labels.

To a casual beer drinker, how would you describe this beer in less than 10 words.

Funky, citrus, floral, earthy, peppery, sticky, bright.

What do you enjoy most about this beer?

Definitely the aroma. All the layers of spice, honey, malt and our unique farmhouse yeast lead to a complex symphony of olfactory joy.

What role does honey play in this beer?

Honey was super important to this beer. We ended up using honey for a hair under half of the fermentable sugar, so it truly blends the mead influences of New Day with our beer expertise. We took everything a step further with the label and naming. L’apiculteur translates to the bee keeper in French, so we decided to feature the image of a 19th century beekeeper on the label to harken back to its ancient roots of the fruit style of beer/mead hybrid.

What do you enjoy most about using honey in the capacity of brewing beer?

I love the complexity that it lends to beer. With so many compounds in honey, they add layers of aroma and flavor that we couldn’t achieve otherwise. We also enjoy the perceived sweetness and body that honey gives beer while still being able to ferment out all the sugars to produce a shelf stable product.

To see more great honey beers and winners from the 2018 Honey Beer Competition, visit