What do you envision when you hear the word “mead?” Do you think of castles and knights, medieval royalty sipping it out of goblets, ancient Greeks imbibing in it, perhaps reading about it being poured during a feast in Middle-earth, Vikings swigging it, or maybe the most appropriate beverage for your Game of Thrones binge-watch-a-thon?
It’s not surprising that your mind may linger on any of these things. Mead is considered an ancient drink and potentially the first ever fermented beverage, dating back prior to wine and beer according to archaeological discoveries. It’s also a drink steeped in lore, rumored to be the beverage of choice for Greek gods, one that makes appearances as a thirst quencher for literary heroes and in fictional, fantastical courts and halls.
In the present day, though, mead has grown in popularity as an incredibly diverse and unique beverage, and Boulder boasts an innovative, longstanding meadery that strives to both create delicious, creative products and educate people about why they should be imbibing in mead.
David Myers, Chairman of the Mead and founder of Redstone Meadery in Boulder, jokes that mead is making a long-awaited comeback.
“I like to say that mead’s popularity comes around like clockwork every two or three thousand years,” says Myers.
According to Myers, the simplest way to describe mead is as honey wine, or wine fermented from honey. After that, however, the possibilities for the tastes and styles of mead are endless. Mead can be dry, sweet, sparkling, still, crisp, honey-heavy, carbonated, and more, and Myers notes that mead is not always the overwhelmingly sweet beverage that many people assume it is.
“Mead surprises people,” says Myers. “People tend to think of it as really a singular beverage, but it’s just not.”
Myers first got involved in the local craft beverage industry as a home brewer of beer in the late 1980s. Getting a wealth of exposure to the industry through continuous networking, brewing, and involvement in organizations and events such as the Great American Beer Festival, Myers’s interest in small batches and mead grew as he began turning his hobby into a business.
“What we really care about is the craft beer and craft beverage atmosphere of exploring new flavors,” says Myers. “We like to say that the things we’re seeing in the market today, we were doing yesterday.”
Launching Redstone Meadery’s first product in June of 2001, Myers rose to the forefront of an industry poised to boom. According to Myers, only about 35 companies specializing primarily in mead existed at the onset of his company. That number has grown to approximately 250 meaderies in existence nationally today, about 100 of which opened in just the last year and a half or so.
Ever versatile and creative, Redstone Meadery, known primarily for their signature Mountain Honey Wine, pioneered low alcohol carbonated mead, also known as a session mead. While their Mountain Honey Wine boasts a 12% ABV, their Nectar line of meads, which include enticing flavors like the Black Raspberry Nectar, Passion Fruit Nectar, and Sunshine Nectar, are known as their “Mead for the Masses” with a slightly lower ABV and drinkable, sparkling nature.
Just like any other craft beverage, be it beer, wine, or spirits, mead’s versatility means it pairs well with a variety of foods and can also be used in an immense number of recipes. Myers notes that mead also “plays well with others” and can add a unique twist to a number of cocktails, from swapping out the champagne and enjoying a “mead-mosa” at brunch or blending mead with your favorite craft stout or wheat for great winter or summer drinks. With an emphasis on natural and sustainable brewing, Redstone Meadery adds no sulfates to their meads and only uses natural ingredients. Redstone’s mead is also gluten free.
In recent weeks, Redstone has released their new Apple Nectar, also known as a cyser, to their Nectar line of meads. With the continued goal of both creating innovative and interesting mead products and spreading the word about what a diverse beverage mead is, Redstone offers free tours of their facilities Monday through Friday at 1:00 PM and 3:00 PM, and on Saturdays at 12:30 PM. With a tasting room here in Boulder that is open Monday through Friday from 12 – 6:30 PM and on Saturdays from 12 – 5 PM, Redstone invites you to come learn about and appreciate this unique craft beverage. Stop in and enjoy the drink that mortals and immortals alike have been enjoying for thousands of years!