The Honey20: #20 to #16

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The National Honey Board is proud to announce the Honey20, a list of made with honey alcoholic beverages that have impacted our drinking experiences for the last 200+ years. This isn’t a list of the best meads, honey beers, or honey spirits in the world. Nor is it a list of the best-selling alcoholic beverages with honey. Instead, the Honey20 recognizes the most influential honey beers, spirits, and meads ever produced — the products that changed consumer perceptions, influenced industries, and challenged our notions of honey’s true expression in an alcoholic beverage.

On this list, you’ll find products that you can buy at your local supermarket and bottles you can only dream of finding on the second-hand beer market. You’ll find global distillers, farmhouse breweries, and meaderies breaking the mold.

They all have one thing in common: honey. An ingredient that most likely fermented into the first alcoholic beverage ever and continues to be used to craft some of the most innovative and quality sips available. Enjoy the list and seek out the products. Also, if you have any comments about our selections (we know you will), we’d love to hear them at [email protected].


#20. Dance Language

Oxbow Brewing Company, Newcastle, Maine

At only two years old, Dance Language is the newest beverage on our Honey20 list, but it’s also one of the most innovative. This Biere de Miel (honey beer) was first brewed in 2018 with honey from the brewery’s own hives. After the first batch disappeared quickly, Oxbow hatched a plan to use the beer as a vehicle to explore monofloral honey. In 2019, the company released Dance Language as a variety 4-pack, with each bottle featuring different single-source honey, including blueberry honey, Japanese knotweed honey, black button sage honey, and meadowfoam honey. Using varietal honey is nothing new in brewing, but showcasing how varietal honey impact beer flavor in a single 4-pack truly influenced the way consumers and brewers view honey’s role in beer.


#19. Drambuie

William Grant & Sons Limited, North Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

From the newest product on our list to the oldest, this iconic Scotch whiskey liqueur makes its mark on the Honey20 due to its history, widespread usage and quality. The story of Drambuie’s origin is part of an epic saga in European history, which involves a young prince’s medicinal elixir finding its way to the shores of Scotland in 1745. The Drambuie that we drink today was first produced in the 1800s at a small hotel on the Isle of Skye. The hotelier added whiskey, honey and sugar to the elixir and trademarked the name Drambuie in 1893. Honey plays a significant role in the liqueur, making the bitter herb and spice recipe more palatable. In cocktails such as the popular Rusty Nail, Drambuie pairs with Scotch to create a bold, yet flavorful drink.


#18. Eille

Off Color Brewing, Chicago, Illinois

In our work to promote honey’s use in alcoholic beverages, the staff at the National Honey Board has imbibed on quite a few honey beers. And, our favorites generally are brewed by John Laffler and the team at Off Color Brewing. Few are as passionate about honey bees or as deft at using honey in a recipe as Off Color. In Eille, the brewery has managed to brew a Biere de Miel that perfectly showcases the many roles honey plays in beer. On the functional side, honey’s use in the recipe boosts the ABV of the saison while drying out the body. From a flavor perspective, the honey complements and enhances the gin spices and lemon juice used in the beer. Simply put, Eille is our dessert honey beer.


#17. Christmas Ale

Great Lakes Brewery, Cleveland, Ohio

Honey has always had a home in holiday beer recipes, but none quite as popular or as effective as Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewery. First brewed in 1992 for the family and friends of co-founders Dan and Pat Conway, the beer quickly made its mark and continues to grow 28 years later. Today, the beer requires 200,000 lbs. of honey to brew and its own special release holiday: First Pour. Christmas Ale is best described as Christmas in a glass. Ginger and cinnamon play significant roles in the recipe of the beer, with honey tying everything together and providing strength, sweetness, and subtle floral notes.


#16. Blue Moon Summer Honey Wheat

Molson Coors Beverage Company, Golden, Colorado

Ask a beer drinker what his or her first sip of honey beer was and they most likely will say Blue Moon Honey Wheat or the #3 entry (no teasers!) in the Honey20 list. Summer Honey Wheat is everything you want from a summer beer: light, flavorful and crushable. A balance of citrus and sweet honey with a low ABV of 5.2%. Plus, it’s available pretty much nationwide during the summer. It’s dependable for barbecues, days at the lake, ball games and your friend who’s always telling you that they “don’t like the taste of beer.” Summer Honey Wheat also has an impressive track record at the Great American Beer Festival, winning a Gold Medal at the 2006 and 2010 competitions. Not bad for a beer that debuted in 1995 as Honey Blonde Ale, reappeared in 2006 as Blue Moon Honey Moon and has finally found a permanent name (we hope) as Summer Honey Wheat.


Congratulations to the meaderies, breweries and distilleries that made our list! And, stay tuned for our Top 15 in the coming weeks.