The Bee’s Knees
Mead makes a comeback
Mead, a drink made by fermenting honey with water, is one of the world’s oldest known alcoholic beverages. It’s having a moment once again, with east coast meaderies adding their twist on a classic by incorporating fruits, grains, and hops. Given the drink’s pervasiveness in Game of Thrones, it’s no wonder that twenty-somethings are putting down the pint glass for a sip of something sweeter.
Small batch mead production has arrived in Brooklyn with the opening of Honey’s, a front-of-the-house tasting room from Enlightenment Wines, which has been focusing on small batch meads made with wild yeast, foraged herbs, and locally sourced fruit since 2009. The company’s honey-based wines are dry (not sweet), around 12% alcohol, barrel fermented and released seasonally. Chrysanthemum flowers, chamomile buds and dandelion leaves lace the beverage for distinct, woodsy flavors. More than just sample a flight, visitors are encouraged to craft their own mead at home by experimenting with herbs and plants that can be found in Honey’s rooftop R&D garden.
CHARM CITY MEADWORKS
After experimenting for a year with various types of hops, meadmaker Andrew Geffken of Charm City Meadworks in Baltimore released a carbonated mead that’s sweet like honey and bitter like hops for a modern take on the ancient drink. Going through more than 5,000 pounds of honey each month to meet demand, the company constantly experiments with new formulations. In addition to its hops brew, standard flavors like Rosemary and Basil Lemongrass are offered alongside seasonal options like Cinnamon, Pumpkin, Strawberry Ginger, and Mango Compeño.
At Melovino, New Jersey’s first and only craft meadery, the rules of mead-making are out the window. The tasting room is simple, but the tasting flights—which include mead melded with espresso and the juice of wine grapes—are not. With more than 10,000 varieties of honey to choose from, founder Sergio Moutela only uses "true source certified honey" to ensure that the product is pure and grown by beekeepers who follow sustainable practices. Bottles of his mead range from $18 and $20, and tours are available at the meadery to showcase how the beverage is brewed.