The Making of Prickly Pear Honey Wheat Ale
As the winter fades and spring draws near, the time to brew one of our favorite seasonal beers is upon us. Prickly Pear Honey Wheat Ale is back! This seasonal is an American style Wheat Ale that is dry-hopped with Loral hops and infused with the fruit of a prickly pear cactus.
I developed this recipe while I was running our Chandler brewery, in collaboration with my assistant brewer at the time, Dannon. We created this beer to pay homage to our late friend, Ian, a beloved Icon in the brewing community. Ian’s positive, cheery personality was infectious. When he passed at just 26 years of age, it impacted everyone that knew him.
Dannon and I wanted to brew something that would be impactful and would leave anyone who tasted it with a smile, just as Ian did. We started with one of Ian’s old prickly pear Hefeweizen homebrew recipes as the base. I remember harvesting the prickly pear fruit from his front yard and processing it for a brew the next day. We had to remove all of the spines from the fruit and then boil it down to remove its bitterness. Then we froze it and made it into a puree for a secondary fermentation addition.
Our rendition has changed dramatically since the days of our homebrew recipe. At the time, a dry-hopped Wheat beer was rare, let alone one with fruit in it. The Loral hops had just been released. After trying them, all I could think about was how it tasted like a prickly pear lemonade from the farmers’ market. With that in mind, we used the Loral hops to help accentuate some floral and fruity characters from our beer. We purchased local orange blossom honey and zested two crates of lemons by hand to add a touch of citrus. Together, these ingredients culminated into a pretty tasty beverage!
To test our practices and the recipe, we bottled the first batch and shipped it to the North American Beer Awards (NABA), where it competed in the experimental beer category. It won a silver medal! From there, it went on to be an innovation beer in our AZ market, and then again in the Ohio Valley, where it was met with high praise from our guests.
Now it has made its way to the mainstage again as our newest seasonal! We are very proud to bring you our Prickly Pear Honey Wheat Ale.
Next: 2022 Zany Zitrus