Murder Hornet was HLH’s first unqualified success, in my humble opinion, and it remains one of our signature beers.
My friend Chip Clements is a beekeeper, which got me thinking I wanted to make a beer with his artisanal Hollywood Hills honey. This got me riffing on themes. Among the blights visited upon the world in 2020 was the arrival of the murder hornets—as soon as this came into focus, I knew I had my theme.
But how would the hornet be weaponized? With Szechuan peppercorn, of course. As it turns out, none of the spice’s tongue-numbing properties found their way into the beer, but green Szechuan peppercorn also lends an intense floral flavor. While honey largely converts to alcohol during fermentation, it leaves floral traces as well. The decision to dry-hop with Amarillo cones was the flower trifecta.
When you poke your nose into that tulip glass to get that bouquet, you are the bee – might as well rub some pollen on your back legs and call it a day. I’ve had a friend tell me this is his favorite beer, period.
The murder hornet himself just had to be some combination of a cartoon 1930s gangster—the Beagle Boys were what came to mind—and an actual bee. Aidan Yetman-Michaelson did me one better by going all Steamboat Willie on my ass.
Most of the Residents’ catalog is unlistenable in the very best way. (If you know me personally, you recognize this as high praise.) Demons Dance Alone is the anomaly in that it’s damn pretty. But this is a characteristic conceptual feint: this is their album about the emotional fallout of 9/11, delivered in four easy pieces: “Loss”, “Denial”, “Three Metaphors”, and the title track. It says a lot that they don’t even get to Anger, much less Acceptance.
“The Beekeeper’s Daughter” is the first of the Three Metaphors (though there’s nothing on this album that is not a metaphor). The bees are under nominal control of the beekeeper, who harvests honey from their hive. One day for no apparent reason, the bees swarm and invade his home, stinging him viciously before disappearing as quickly as they came. Make of this metaphor what you will.