I’ve been talking about wine for all my “Winery Visit” blog posts, but there is another form of wine (believed to be the oldest fermented drink) called Mead. Archeologists have discovered Mead in pots dating back to BC time. So what is Mead?? Its a combination of water, yeast and honey, with honey being the different factor. During my visit to Meadery of the Rockies, I learned that honey can never go bad… so in layman’s terms, there is a chemical process whereby honey gives off hydrogen peroxide, which actually kills off bacteria!!
So if honey is in Mead, does that mean its always sweet?? And the answer is NO…Mead can be dry, semi-sweet or sweet. Meadery of the Rockies actually makes many different Meads…from the traditional, to fruit-based Meads called Fruit `n Honey, dessert Meads called Satins that are fortified with grape spirit and a Honey Sheré, that is 18% alcohol.
I met with Brian Stevens, winemaker for Meadery of the Rockies as well as Talon Winery and St. Kathryn Cellars, who gave me the 411 on Mead making. You first need the basic ingredients – water and honey. Meadery uses Orange Blossom honey, which primarily comes from California and Florida. Its my understanding that Arizona has the best honey (who would have thought??), but it is expensive and hard to obtain. Brian mixes the water and honey in a huge 1960s dairy tank (sorry forgot to take a picture!) until he gets 24 brix (a sugar measurement). He then transfers it to a big tank and adds yeast. Here it ferments and becomes Mead. Brian says making Mead is different than making wine as there are more complex things to deal with.
For more information on Mead, see Meadery of the Rockies website or better yet….stop by for a taste!