In the historic heart of Melbourne, among the high fashion and highly polished mosaic tiles of the 1892 Block Arcade, is a stylish slice of the Australian bush. With its Australian hardwood furnishings, large photographic murals of eucalyptus forest and supercool underlit tasting table Beechworth Honey’s city store has become a destination to taste the best of the nation’s natural honeys. Beechworth Honey has long been at the forefront of championing Australian honey and Australian varietal honeys. The business was started 25 years ago by husband and wife team Steven and Jodie Goldsworthy in Beechworth in North East Victoria. The new Melbourne location is the perfect place for city folk to learn about the magnificent honeys produced by bees foraging in the Australian landscape.
Australian varietal honeys are made by the bees collecting the nectar of native trees in flower – mainly eucalypts but also other species, such as banksia and macadamia. Beechworth Honey has more than 500 hives in bushland across Australia. The honeys produced are unique and pristine, free of any agricultural pesticides and truly delicious. Tasted side by side, the honeys reveal huge differences in texture, aroma, fragrance and length of palate. You’ll soon find yourself describing them much as you might an array of wines at a tasting, each revealing its own character. Staff are on hand to help you work your way through the dozens of honeys open for tasting. They’ll explain that tasting honey demands the same protocols as wine tasting, starting with milder tasting varieties then moving on to stronger flavours.
You might start with a delicate honey such as Ironbark – a light golden honey with a delicate buttery texture and short sharp bursts of sweetness with notes of caramel at the end of the palate. It’s perfect for adding sweetness without extra flavour to a cup of tea, or drizzled over pancakes.
Then move on to a smooth and warm honey such as Macadamia, gathered from groves in sub-tropical Australia. This honey is wonderfully complex, full of tropical fruit aromas such as guava, with a gentle creamy texture and an attractive amber colour. Its unusual savoury character makes it a perfect match for red meat in a marinade – or drizzle it over blue cheese.
Then there are the bold honeys such as Red Stringybark. Amber in colour with a dense texture, it has a rich malty aroma with a clean sharp finish, though a hint of bitterness brings to mind the flavour of caramelised walnuts. It makes a great addition to moist cakes, either in the batter or drizzled over the cake when still warm to infuse your masterpiece with its rich aroma.
There are dozens of species and varieties, from tangy Peppermint Gum to the heady and aromatic Tasmanian Leatherwood honey. The range available for sale and tasting depends on seasonal availability: it’s a quirk of Australia’s native flora that some flower only once every three years.
The new store, like its counterpart in Beechworth, offers tastings of other delights, from pure honeycomb in its own honey to jars of fresh nuts immersed in honey. Honey nougat and soft drinks show what a versatile product it is. You will also find a diverse range of honey-based balms, scrubs and washes.The attractive gift packs are particularly popular with visitors from across the nation and around the world.
Beechworth Honey, Block Arcade
98/100 Elizabeth St, Melbourne, Victoria
Tel 03 5728 1433