Once used as a tonic for its health benefits, mead is perhaps the oldest fermented beverage in the world, but widely unknown. Made from the fermentation of honey and in some cases, other additional ingredients used to impart a greater depth of flavor, the composition of mead depends greatly on the raw materials and their source.
Uniquely, honey varies in color, flavor, and floral quality based on the sourcing bees, their feeding and furrowing habits. Michigan honey, for instance, might impart a certain taste, versus that made by California bees. Certainly the indigenous nature of the plants surrounding the bees’ hive will change the profile of the raw product produced by them.
The remaining ingredients, water and yeast, offer their own variations on the theme.
When tasting a mead, the honey aroma should be dominant, expressing a sweet quality and the aroma of floral nectar. Fruity esters and alcohol aroma may also be present, though these are built strategically through the fermentation. Any added flavor layers should add further balance to the honey flavor and offer greater depth to the sweetness by countering the natural sugars.
At Imperial Beverage, we carry two known mead lines: Redstone Meadery and that of B. Nektar, which has recently been added to the portfolio of products IB sells in Michigan. This popular line of meads was created by Brad and Kerri Dahlhofer, who developed the line and the Nektar philosophy. Says Brad of this effort, “We started as homebrewers, and our product line reflects that. Homebrewers are some of the most imaginative brewers out there. So we embrace that spirit and transformed it into how we make meads.” Until recently, B. Nektar was distributed exclusively by the Ferndale, Michigan meadery. As the following for their products grew, they sought the support of a statewide distributor for their products, and Imperial Beverage filled the bill.
When asked who the target mead audience is, Dahlhofer replies with confidence. “We think anybody who is a consumer of craft beer or good wine is a good candidate for mead. There are so many types of mead…. Our customers range from 20 something hipsters, to 70+ year old grandparents that have fond memories of drinking mead on a trip to Ireland.”
In mead, like in life, “Recipes are just a foundation. It’s your own taste and imagination that makes great food come together.”
We invite you to try something new—mead. In Brad’s words, let your taste and imagination come together. You certainly won’t be sorry you did.