The first time you hear the word “mead” it may make you think of medieval times. But it’s very much a modern beverage. And right now, it’s definitely seeing a growth in popularity in the Pacific Northwest. “Mead’s resurgence is a natural extension of the entire movement toward local, small batch, traditional foods and beverages,” says Chrissie Manion Zaerpoor, meadmaker and owner of Kookoolan Farms and Kookoolan World Meadery in Yamhill, Ore.
But what exactly is mead? Simply put, mead or “honey wine” is an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting honey with water. It can be made with the addition of fruits, spices, herbs and even hopsl. According to Manion Zaerpoor, meadmakers utilize real honey sourced from beekeepers who follow responsible farming practices. “Environmental attention on ‘saving the bees’ has an obvious resonance and romance with mead,” she says. “In choosing to drink mead, consumers are choosing to support a product that is financially viable in supporting good husbandry for bees.”
Plus, mead is simply delicious. You can find meads that are on the drier or sweeter side, along with sparkling or still. The genre is ever-expanding as meadmakers continue to be increasingly creative.Ready to dive into the magical world of mead? Find seven great options to get you started.
Sky River Mead | Solas Honey Wine | Redmond, Wash.
This mead is made entirely from golden honey producing the most enticing drink. Each time you take a drink, it makes you feel like you’re sipping fresh honey, but with a twist. Aged in Dry Fly Distilling whiskey barrels, it’s wonderfully balanced and complex, serving as the perfect introduction for anyone who has never tried the drink.
Eaglemount Winery and Cidery | Cherry Mead | Port Townsend, Wash.
Think mead just takes like honey? Think again. This cherry mead features the most stunning light ruby hue straight out of the bottle. The nose is a bit floral, but once you take a sip you’re welcomed with an incredible balance of cherry, apple and honey. And thanks to the use of tart cherries, it has just the right amount of acidity to keep you wanting more.
Hierophant Meadery | Gilead Poplar Vanilla Mead | Freeland, Wash.
Part of the beauty of mead is the power of creativity that comes along with making it. Hierophant added poplar leaf buds along with dried vanilla bean for a unique sip. It’s floral on the nose, with a hint of sweetness. But that sweetness leads way to a complex drink with an interesting earthy quality, ending with a lingering finish.
Thorax Meadworks | Strawberry Rhubarb Belma | Richland, Wash.
Longship Wines in Richland started diving into the world of mead with this offering. But they’re making mead a bit more like beer, with delicate carbonation and fragrant hops. This tart sipper features fruity notes with balanced acidity. It’s dry hopped with Belma hops, offering a slight twist of flavor without being overpowering. Sold in a can, it sips like a beer or cider, making it an incredibly approachable mead for any occasion.
Artivem Mead Co. | Crested Owl Mead | Bellingham, Wash.
Artivem is making uniquely flavored meads in Bellingham, and their Crested Owl certainly fits in that category. Part of a series inspired by Girl Scout Cookies, this mead embraces the flavor of ever-popular Thin Mints. It’s made with cacao and mint to produce a dark, rich drink with a hint of freshness.
Sky River Mead | Raspberry Honey Wine | Redmond, Wash.
Just the deep, ruby hue of this drink makes it appealing right off the bat. Each sip offers the ideal contrast of sweet honey paired with bold raspberries for a complex flavor. Its sweetness is well balanced, leaving you with an incredibly juicy and delicious mead to enjoy during any season.
Melchemy Craft Mead | Uprooted Ginger Turmeric Mead | Carson, Wash.
This mead hailing from the Columbia River Gorge starts with wildflower honey. Ginger and turmeric are added to the mix, along with just a hint of peppercorn. It’s complex, with a ginger-forward flavor and wonderfully balanced with spiced caramel notes. It’s a clever combination of both sweet and spicy and, thanks to oak barrel aging, it offers a smooth mouthfeel with every sip.