When Kevin Lane isn’t working with distributors to stock beer from Crosstown Brewing Co. in bars, restaurants and on store shelves, he spends a lot of his free time with honeybees.
“For me, it’s beer and bees,” said Lane, sales manager at Crosstown and a certified master beekeeper.
Today, Lane’s job and his hobby intersect with the release of Crosstown’s new summer seasonal beer, Forager Honey Rye Ale (5.6% ABV, 10 IBUs).
The beer was brewed with honey from Lane’s backyard beehives — 15 gallons of honey, in fact — used to sweeten four batches of Forager.
Lane got to pour the honey into the first batch brewed last month, and his bearded face (on the body of a bee!) adorns the colorful label art for the beer.
Forager goes on sale today, Friday, June 9, at noon in Crosstown’s midtown Memphis taproom, 1264 Concourse Ave. The beer will be available on draft and in 6-packs of cans to go.
Next week, Forager will start to be available in the community, including Kroger stores, Miss Cordelia’s, South Point Grocery, Huey’s restaurants and other locations.
Lane, who’s been with Crosstown for four-and-a-half years, said the beer is a great way to highlight the importance of both local honey and local beer.
Plus, Lane said, the beer tastes great.
“I really am very pleased with it,” he said.
“It’s got that rye — a little bit of spice — and the good balance of the honey toward the end of the taste. It’s very creamy. It’s got a velvet smooth taste. It’s only 10 IBUs. So, definitely a really good summer beer.”
The recipe for Forager was developed by Crosstown’s head brewer, Mike Converse.
Before Lane got into bees, he started making his own beer as a homebrewer while working for a local craft beer distributor.
“And then it was just like, ‘What can I do to homestead, to get more things off the land?’”
He did some reading about beekeeping in 2014, and then took a short course at Agricenter International in 2015.
“That’s when I got hooked,” he said.
Lane went on to get his master beekeeping certification from the University of Montana and is now even a published author on bees. He co-wrote a paper that was published in the American Bee Journal in 2021 called “Food Spoilage in Beeswax-impregnated Cotton Cloth Wraps Compared to Standard Storage Methods.”
When asked for ideas for naming the new Crosstown beer, it didn’t take Lane long to come up with “Forager.”
“Bees are great pollinators, but the main thing … is to be a forager, to go get the nectar, bring nectar back, and make the honey,” he said.
Lane has six hives of honeybees in his backyard.
Lane sells the honey he harvests from the hives, mainly through word of mouth, though he doesn’t have much to sell right now.
“Right now, I’m low on it, because of the beer,” he said.
Of course, after Lane’s bees go out and do some foraging, he’ll soon have a fresh supply.