Oh, Mead, Oh, My, indeed.
My new favorite, in fact.
I must admit, I was apprehensive about trying mead. Based on the name, “mead,” I was expecting a thick, mealy, alcoholic concoction of who knows what. I would often refuse opportunities to try it, sticking with a comfortable pint of whatever delicious draft the establishment offered.
Boy, was this a mistake.
Apprehensively, I gave it a try.
All of my preconceived notions were far from correct. (Why I didn’t just Google the stuff is beyond me.) It is a pale-to-yellow gold tinted, translucent, sweet drink.
All those glasses wasted on not-mead. I regret.
Mead is sweet nectar that is made of water and fermented honey. Comparable to many other beverages, yet unique in its’ own right. It’s alcohol content can vary from that similar to beer to something as strong as brandy.
According to beer100.com, the history of mead may date back more than 8,000 years, and predates the creation of wine.
So I wonder, why there aren’t more meaderies?!
Recently, I visited Maine Mead Works, (51 Washington Ave, Portland, ME) a small place that I had passed a few hundred times, never thinking to stop in.
The company made residence in this garage-front warehouse in 2007, and transformed it into an industrial-chic space where you can taste what they create in the back. Upon walking in, you face the tasting bar, and in my case, the smiley girl standing behind it. Shelves are well stocked with different varieties of their meads. Blood orange walls, area rugs, and string lights add a warm and comfy feeling to this building made of mostly metal and concrete.
Beside the tasting room is an additional room, containing a second bar and beautiful wooden picnic tables. Leah (our tasting guide) informed us that this room is used for events and during the summer it is filled with (I’m assuming, only the hippest of) their neighbors.
My friend and I sat down at the bar, and we were given a list of the 7 meads we were about to try. Leah was knowledgeable about the meads, and was happy to describe and discuss them. From their HoneyMaker line we tried the Dry, Blueberry, Semi Sweet, Lavender and Apple Cyser, and from their Ram Island Line, the Lavender Lemonade, and the Chai Mead.
The Ram Island meads are carbonated in the bottle.
I enjoyed every glass, but if I HAD to choose my favorite(s), it would be the Lavender, and the Chai. The lavender would be great in the summer as it is sweet with (very) strong floral notes. The chai mead, bursting with aromatic cinnamon, cardamom and clove, would be great in the fall.
My friend also had a few different favorites. (The blueberry and the semi-sweet)
Once we were done tasting, Leah walked us through the meadery.
A single room contained the entire process from beginning to bottle. First, water and wildflower honey are combined and heated. Then comes the fermentation process. They use a technique developed by a doctor in South Africa named Dr. Garth Cambray. Maine Mead Works is the only producer of mead to use this continuous method of fermentation aside from Dr. Cambray himself.
Then the mead runs into giant containers where any special flavors are added. Then any particles are removed from the mixture, making it perfectly smooth. Then the mead is bottled and every bottle is labeled by hand.
Their process ensures that their HoneyMaker mead has an abv of about 12.5%.
Maine Mead Works’ tasting room is open Monday-Saturday from 11am-7pm and Sundays 12pm-5pm, and the offer complimentary tours Monday-Saturday at 11:30am and 3pm.
I HIGHLY suggest you take the time to visit.
Maine Mead works is a strong front-runner for my choice producer of Maine-made beverages.
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