For many of us, honey typically comes in that classic plastic bear, or is limited to whatever we find at the grocery store. However, a visit to Old Blue Raw Honey in Philomath proves not only that the flavor of honey is distinct, but that “sweet” doesn’t even begin to describe this nectar of the gods.
If you’re a fan of buying local and trying new things, Old Blue has a honey for you.
Meet the Storches
Henry Storch has been keeping bees for at least 10 years. It started as a hobby, but Storch became more serious about the venture in the last five years. He currently keeps about 500 hives.
According to Camille Storch, customer service, sales, and shipping manager, “Henry doesn’t get stung every day, but some days it’s 50 times or more. He’s pretty much unfazed by it.”
The Storches put a lot of love into their honey, highlighting the following criteria: they only sell honey from their own hives, they offer a lot of small-batch varietal honeys, they value transparency and share a lot of information with their customers, and they are “actively preserving and improving Northwest-adapted honeybee genetics by raising and breeding [their] own queens.”
A Flavor for Everyone
Old Blue offers a honey subscription program that currently has more than 50 annual members. For $115, subscribers get three honeys every season. The current winter sampler includes Meadowfoam, Red Clover, and Hairy Vetch, as well as Wild Blackberry and Groundsel. Each sampler gives detailed information about where the honey comes from, the farmers who work the land, and the flavor profile you can expect.
The Storches’ website manages to be poetic and informative at the same time. Prices for individual honeys vary depending on how difficult the honey is to produce or how “crazy” the flavor is.
Meadowfoam, which is almost exclusively produced in the Willamette Valley, tastes like marshmallow and vanilla. Red Clover and Hairy Vetch “tastes of sweetgrass hay and walnuts,” while Wild Blackberry and Groundsel is compared to “golden raisins with a buttery finish.”
The Storches don’t want to be in every home across the U.S.; their goal is to create high-quality honey that sells out by June, before the next harvest. “We don’t need to be the biggest, best, or fanciest. We have humble goals,” Camille says.
Currently, the Storches have a tasting room that they are putting the finishing touches on. They wanted to create a space where people could pick up their honey—saving locals money on shipping—and for small groups to come in for tastings by appointment. By next spring, they plan on having “an observation hive in [their] new extraction facility. This will allow honeybee viewing without the risk of getting stung.”
While the Willamette is known for its wine, it’s not often that you find a tasting that is fun for the whole family. So, ditch the honey bear and try something a little more exotic without leaving the valley.
For more information or to set up a tasting, visit www.oldbluenaturalresources.
By Anika Lautenbach