Honey Fest 2018 celebrates ‘elixir of the gods’

Celesia Smith

Honey: natural, sweet, versatile, long-lasting and packed with nutrients and antioxidants. Three years ago, Tara Chapman and Lindsey Peebles, founders of Two Hives Honey and Texas Keeper Cider, decided that honey needed to be celebrated for all of its benefits. Thus, Honey Fest was born.

On Oct. 27, Honey Fest 2018, organized by Two Hives Honey and Texas Keeper Cider, will take place from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. The festival is set to include live music, honey-centered food and drink and workshops on cooking, gardening and honey harvesting. Various vendors will also be at the festival selling everything from fresh honey to honey-based face masks.

A key part of the festival is the release of the new Texas Keeper Cider cyser, Honey Thief. Peebles said that cyser is a classic combination of honey and cider.

“(Cyser) is a very old, almost ancient, fermented beverage,” Peebles said. “You think about eating apple slices with honey drizzled on it and it seems like such a natural fit. But you’re using the honey in that situation to contribute to that fermentation because the yeasts are eating those sugars.”

The first vintage of Honey Thief was released in 2016, the year that Honey Fest premiered. Each year thereafter, a new vintage has debuted at Honey Fest. Cyser is not the only honey-related beverage making an appearance at the festival, however. Peebles and Chapman want Honey Fest to promote honey-based products from all local businesses.

“We also make a point of selling other people’s wine, cider, mead and sake, so we will have even more meads than we normally do,” Chapman said.  “There will be a lot of Texas meads like Enchanted Manor and Elgin Meadery.”

The promotion of local businesses continues with the inclusion of a variety of vendors that make appearances at Honey Fest. Some businesses have booths for selling products, and others will be hosting workshops that range from a honey-related cocktail-making lesson to a gardening class.

Jonna Black, founder of Hivelight, a local business that sells beeswax candles, sold her products at Honey Fest 2017 and said that the experience was one of the best she has ever had.

“I had a blast and sold so many candles,” Black said. “All the vendors were out in the yard, and there was a line out the door to get mead and cider. Everyone was having a great time listening to music, dancing around and learning about the bees.”

While the festival is entertaining and educational, it’s also charitable. Part of the proceeds from Honey Fest 2018 will fund an Austin Food and Wine Alliance grant to help local vendors get their businesses off the ground. Peebles and Chapman use Honey Fest as a way of both celebrating honey’s natural beauty and giving back to the entity that helped them grow their businesses.

“I want people to have a really good time and enjoy celebrating something that I think is such an amazing product that agriculture makes for us,” Peebles said. “It’s amazing that such little insects can make an elixir of the gods.”