Thursday, August 22, 2013

Abeilles à Québec

We just got back from a short vacation to Quebec. One of the highlights for me was a trip to Intermiel, an apiary located in Mirabel Saint-Benoît, Quebec.

The tour began with a quick history of the apiary, which was begun about 30 or so years ago by a French couple by the name of Macle who immigrated to Canada back in the 60's. Passionate about bees, they began an apiary which now has over 5000 hives.  It's quite an operation!

This was followed by a viewing of the inside of a Langstroth hive and a close-up look at bees in the biggest observation hive I've ever seen!

Check out that observation hive!

Next, we got an overview of the harvesting process and got to taste some of the amazing products that this apiary produces.

Of course, the machinery Intermiel uses is way bigger;
it has to be for 5000 hives!

In addition to all the various types of honey Intermiel makes (well, the bees make actually), the apiary produces creamed honey (which also comes in cinnamon, citrus, and one other flavor that escapes me) and my favorite -- a honey & chocolate spread, which you can have plain, with nuts, or with lavender.

The tour was in French, but it wasn't a big deal. The info was pretty basic, so I was able to follow along pretty easily. Plus, our tour guide, Elise, was très charmant. She spoke some English, but mostly I liked her animated way of speaking. She reminded me of a young version of one of my aunts.

Our guide. I need a hat like that!

Of course, my favorite part of the tour was when all the kids got shuffled into a room to play with some toys (completely unsupervised -- I love it!) while the adults headed off for a wine tasting.

I always imagined mead as some kind of medieval brew that was probably kind of yeasty, heavy, and unrefined. However, the honey wines we tasted were anything but. Some of the meads we sampled included a semi-dry wine made with apple blossom honey, a sweet one made with goldenrod honey (hands down my favorite), and a very sweet wine made with wildflower honey. They also make a number of honey wines flavored with fruit. The cassis one was fantastic. Elise also provided excellent information on how to serve each one.

Additionally, the Macle family has a sizeable apple orchard and sugar maple grove, so we got to sample some of those beverages as well, including ice ciders and maple liquors.

I'm not the only one who thinks their beverages are delicious.
We tried pretty much most of their line there in the tasting room, so it's a good thing we had such tiny cups. Otherwise, I doubt anyone would have been able to walk out.

Afterward, we took a walk about the farmyard, where the kids got to play and pet some ponies, goats, etc.

Best day ever.

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