We take pride in crafting an inventive array of meads and melomels from locally sourced ingredients. All our meads start with pure wildflower honey, harvested in the foothills of the North Cascades. We use 55 gallons of honey -- about 640 pounds -- in every batch, and the quality of this essential ingredient is paramount. We are fortunate to work with a beekeeper in the Skagit Valley who has a particular knack for staging his 1500 hives amid profusions of blackberry and fireweed blooms, and the resulting honey is light and delicately flavored. Our goal is to preserve the balance of that gorgeous liquid -- subtle floral aromas against a rich, earthy background -- in every bottle. Our signature Mead is beautifully simple, made from just honey, water and yeast. But simplicity lends itself to endless variation. Apples and berries from around Whatcom County, rhubarb and herbs from our own backyard, as well as the occasional imported spice blend -- we're continually experimenting with new combinations, cultivating new relationships, discovering delicious new possibilities. Read on for more information about mead and how best to enjoy it.
Mead history & Lore Mead, or wine made from honey, is the world's most ancient and storied alcoholic beverage. Archaeological evidence suggests consumption of drinks made from fermented honey could date as far back as the Neolithic period, some 7,000 years before grape wine was introduced. Certainly mead is the stuff of myth and legend. It was the nectar of the gods on Mt. Olympus; the inspired gift of wisdom and poetry from Odin; the exclusively royal quaff of Egyptian pharaohs and English kings. The word mead comes from medhu, the Sanskrit term for honey, and reference to its presumed ecstatic properties can be found in the Vedic texts. Indeed, mead has long been sought after not merely as a wine but as a magic potion of sorts. In medieval Europe, common wisdom ascribed all sorts of benefits to the mead drinker: good health, longevity, prosperity, happiness, and (wait for it) the birth of sons. Our modern idea of a honeymoon derives from the practice of giving newlywed couples honey wine to drink every night for a lunar month -- presumably to encourage the aforementioned desirables. Don't say we didn't warn you.
For more mead lore, go here.
How is it made? Some ethnologists like to speculate that our ancient forbears found an abandoned hive in a hollow tree, perhaps one that had been exposed to the rains, sampled what they found there, and proceeded to get very happy. At Honey Moon, while we certainly appreciate primordial serendipity, we're much more systematic in our approach. We begin by dissolving pure wildflower honey in water, gently heated just to the point of dissolution. When this mixture has cooled we transfer it to a stainless steel fermenter and add yeast, usually a winemaker's cote de blanc. Then it's a process of watchful waiting, monitoring the progress of fermentation, measuring specific gravity and racking at least three times. It generally takes 3-6 months before the mead is ready to bottle or blend. Each batch is unique, with variations dependent on the initial character of the honey, the particular strain of yeast, and the intended final product. After fermentation is complete flavoring may be added -- either by infusion, as with our Orange, Wassail, Rhubarb or Fleurs Ameres meads, or by blending with fruit which has been fermented separately, as in the case of our Raspberry, Blueberry and Strawberry meads (also called melomels). Our Special Reserve Mead has been conditioned in oak for up to three years. Each 55 gallon drum of honey yields approximately 180 gallons of finished mead, or about 75 cases.
How sweet is it? Ah, sweetness! We desire it in life and in love, but in wine, it's not everyone's cup of tea. Honey is sweet, obviously, but it doesn't follow that mead is equally as sweet. As with any other wine, it's all about fermentation. Mead can be anywhere from teeth-achingly sweet to bone dry, depending on the character of the honey, the strain of yeast, and the mead maker's choices along the way. But, unlike grapes and other fruits with high tannic concentrations, honey has little to no acid profile and thus no molecular structure to support flavor in the absence of residual sugars. In other words, very dry mead doesn't taste like much of anything. At Honey Moon, we strive to find that proverbial "sweet spot" where we can taste the nuance of the honey in the glass -- a drink that is delicate and flavorful, sweet, but not too sweet, with a rich mouthfeel and a smooth finish. For you wine geeks out there, our signature Mead has a final gravity of 10.15.. The content of our flavored meads and melomels varies, with Rhubarb and Raspberry typically being the driest.. Of course the experience is completely subjective. What is delectable to one may be cloying to another. That's ok. We get it. Sometimes we like a good IPA ourselves.
What's the best way to drink it? We recommend serving our meads lightly chilled . Then again, sometimes the occasion calls for gentle warming, as might be the case with a mug of Wassail or Hot Spiced Mead blend by a fire on a winter's night. Speaking of blends, mead is a natural ingredient for inventive craft cocktails. Try a raspberry mimosa with equal parts chilled Raspberry Mead and champagne. For a citrus stinger, blend two parts Orange Mead with one part bourbon and serve over ice with a twist. Feel free to experiment, and do let us know about your favorite combinations. We'd love to include them in our upcoming recipe page.
What shall I serve it with? All our meads work beautifully either before meals as an apertif, or afterwards, with dessert. Also delicious with cheeses, particularly of the chalky, salty variety. Try our signature Mead or Orange Mead with a sheep's milk pecorino, or Manchego.