Harris Meadery Supports the Jax Beer Society
Orange Park, FL: Harris Meadery has announced it’s launch during the first brewer sponsored event of the Jax Beer Society. The event was held from 6:00 pm through 9:00 pm at Brewer’s Pizza located at 14-B Blanding Blvd. in Orange Park. As a special perk for signing up for membership in the Jax Beer Society, patrons were granted a free taste of local Florida mead including our wonderful melomels such as our award winning Key Lime Pie mead as well as our new Strawberry Key Lime Pie mead and Cherry Raspberry Currant mead. Our whole crew was on hand to answer questions about what it takes to start up a new meadery in Florida and what our future plans are for establishing our business.
What the heck is mead anyway?
Maybe you’ve heard about it but never have really known what mead is. You’ve seen it featured in television (ahem, Game of Thrones, ahem), seen it in movies or maybe considered it some sort of exotic, mysterious beverage that’s consumed by the gallon by Vikings before laying siege to the rest of the world. Mead is quite simply an alcoholic beverage where the majority of the fermentable sugar content is honey based. Honey + Water + Yeast = alcohol. It’s the world’s oldest alcoholic beverage with it’s earliest origins dating from the African continent from 8,000 b.c., likely from a spontaneous fermentation where a honey bee hive was flooded with rainwater. Well, somebody decided to taste that wildly fermented honey mead and the rest is history. The oldest archaeological fragments of purposeful mead production date from 6,500 b.c. in Northern China. In Europe, mead has been made since at least 2,800 b.c. and was considered the favorite drink from Ancient Wales in the west to Japan in the east, Scandinavia and Russia in the north to the southern tips of Africa, India and Indo-China.
What does mead taste like?
Just because mead has a honey base, doesn’t necessarily mean that it tastes like a spoonful of sue bee honey. Mead can be very dry like a dry beer, semi-dry like a white wine or sweet like a dessert wine. Mead comes in three standard strength levels which have to do with how much alcohol is in them:
- Hydromel: More water than honey. These are “sessionable” meads that are generally between 3% and 6% alcohol by volume (ABV). The alcohol level here is comparable with the majority of craft ales and lagers.
- Standard: Equal parts honey & water: These are average mead strengths in the 7%-14% ABV range. They pack about the same amount of punch as an Imperial ale or a glass of red wine.
- Sack: More honey than water. Sack meads are strong alcohol meads in ranges from 15%-20% ABV. These are generally strong drinking meads that are best sipped and savored in small servings and are close to being comparable with a shot of fortified wine or liquor without the fortification or distillation.
Now that we have strength out of the way and have investigated the gamut of dry to sweet meads, here’s a list of the most common varieties of meads and what flavors you can expect:
- Melomel: A Melomel is a catch-all name for any mead flavored with fruit. Strawberry mead, peach mead, citrus mead and prickly pear mead are all examples of Melomels.
- Cyser: A mead made from Apples.
- Braggot: A mead made with added grains, like barley malt, rye or oats.
- Methlegin: A catch-all name for meads made with spices, like cinnamon, star anise, hops or vanilla.
- Pyment: A mead made with grapes.
- Bochet: A mead made with burnt honey, giving it a marshmallow flavor.
So, meads can taste a lot like honey, or just about anything that has flavor that you can mix into it. They can taste like beers, wines, or something completely different from both. I like to think about meads as an intermediary between the flavors of a beer and wine.
Mead sounds pretty cool, when/where can I try some?
At Harris Meadery, we’re working hard on our federal and state licensing requirements at this time. If everything goes as planned, we will begin contract brewing our meads at Pinglehead Brewing in Orange Park by the end of 2015. At that time, we will be offering our meads into distribution for retail sale all around the north Florida area. Until then, under the Federal Homebrew Law of 1974, we’re obligated to give away everything that we’re brewing for free. Please watch this website or click one of our social media links to the left of this post to see where we will be serving up our meads next (especially Facebook). Rock on mead drinkers. Rock on.