Q&A: Honey Moon Mead and Cider’s Murphy Evans
Tucked into an alleyway, Honeymoon Mead and Cider’s storefront (or what they charmingly refer to as ‘their house’) is a hub for musicians and artists, and of course, a beacon to mead and cider lovers everywhere. The meadery and cidery has been part of the cider revolution since first opening their doors in 2005 with an English-style cider, CiderHead. In the last 10+ years while the line-up has expanded to meet demand, the commitment to quality craft cider remains simple and true: cider is made from fresh local apples with no added sugar or concentrate. Owner and brewer, Murphy Evans, gave us an inside look at his life and his beverage philosophy.
When did you first start making Mead and Cider?
In 2005. (My wife says: “Tell them you’ve been making it since before cider was cool. . .”)
What prompted you to start brewing?
I started as a homebrewer, making beer, and then experimenting with wine. It just kind of snowballed from there. It wasn’t necessarily a vision to open a business when I started, but eventually all those carboys outgrew the basement. Twelve years later, here we are. It’s been a blast!
How are Mead and Cider different, and how did you come to make both?
The most essential difference is their main ingredient: mead is made from fermented honey while cider is from fruit, especially apples. Beyond that it’s really a question of tradition and expectation, and how you treat the ingredients. Mead is generally approached more like a wine, with a similar richness and complexity, and an alcohol content in the neighborhood of 12-14 percent. Cider is typically lighter and more delicate, with a correspondingly lower alcohol content. Plus it’s usually carbonated. It’s not a beer, but it drinks more like a beer than a wine.
Cider and mead are similar in that they both play well with others. Both are imminently blendable, and, in fact,they blend together very nicely. A mead-cider blend is traditionally called a cyser, and we make a number of these. Our Raspberry, Rhubarb and Quince ciders are all technically cysers or mead-cider blends.
We make both because, well, I like both, and I really like to experiment. There’s so much that grows in our area; it just inspires you to try new things. (Here’s my wife again: “Tell them about all the carboys in the basement!” Yeah, I had a lot of carboys in the basement. . .)
When you’re not brewing up something tasty, what are you doing?
Cleaning up! (My wife says: “Yeah, right. . .”)
What goes into making the perfect cider and mead?
I’m not sure I know about “perfect,” but the quality of the product is a function of the care you put into it every step of the way. Careful selection of the honey and apples is most critical. There’s also careful attention to the fermentation, the filtering, the cleanliness, all of it.
What sets Honey Moon apart from other Meaderies?
We don’t have a preconceived notion of what we’re supposed to do, or how it’s supposed to be. We’re constantly experimenting with new flavors, new combinations. It’s a great creative outlet.