In the winter of this year, Alter Brewing Company and the Downers Grove Park District agreed to a sponsorship that will allow for some incredible involvement in the community. One of these opportunities will be a beer and honey infused educational adventure! Read the full press release here.
Our story begins at Lyman Woods, a beautiful 150-acre nature preserve in Downers Grove consisting of oak woods, prairie, and marsh habitats that is home to over 300 species of native plants. The preserve’s roots date back to the early 19th century when the Lyman family first moved to Downers Grove. Walter C. Lyman was a pioneer in beekeeping, and when coupled with his wife Jesse’s passion for nature and wildflower preservation they began a legacy that the Downers Grove Park District seeks to preserve for generations to come.
Nestled in a clearing just a short walk from the entrance is the Lyman Woods Apiary, where visitors will find a collection of bee hives that has now been bolstered by 5 with the help of Alter. According to the National Honey Board, an average hive produces roughly 80lbs. of surplus honey every year. However, this number can vary wildly depending on weather and a variety of other factors. Harvesting this year will occur in late July and Alter will be receiving 50lbs. to use in a special beer. The official debut of the Lyman Honey Wheat Ale will be September 30th at Downers Grove’s Harvest Fest, however a lucky few will be able to taste it in advance.
Knowledge… and beer… are meant to be shared.
This whole partnership is great and all, but we thought it would be even better if it were shared with the community. On September 9th Alter and the Park District will be hosting a special program called “Field to Fermenter.” The one day event will kick off at Lyman Woods where the class will get to visit the apiary in full protective bee attire and learn about bees and the making of honey from one of the foremost bee experts and naturalists in the area, Marge Trocki. In addition, all participants will get to taste a variety of honeys in the William F. Sherman Jr. Interpretive Center as they learn about one of the most delicious natural treats around.
Participants will then journey to Alter where our head brewer Mark Hedrick will take them on a tour of the entire operation. He will explain the fundamentals of brewing beer and lend insight as to how honey was used in the creation of this new brew. Lunch will be provided by The Roaming Hog food truck and everyone will be given both a pint to try with lunch and a 32oz. crowler to take home! The program will be open for registration in the fall catalog.
We hope that this program will encourage more members of the community to get involved in conservation and learn more about this precious resource that we have in our back yard. Bees are an integral part of nature and the survival of many species, including our own. The more knowledge that available and introduced to the public, the better chance we will have of successful preservation for years to come.
In addition, we seek to open people’s eyes to the innovation that can occur in the brewing industry. Honey is one of many interesting natural ingredients that can forever change a person’s perception of what beer can be.
Finally, we are confident that this educational partnership, and the delicious honey beer that it produces, will serve as an example of what great things can come when the community works together.