Though it’s one of the oldest alcoholic beverages known to man, many people don’t quite know what mead is. The short answer is “honey wine.” However, since mead is made everywhere from China to right here in Ferndale, many different styles and types exist. The more traditional types, like the ones you may have tried at the Renaissance Festival, are sweet, with a hint of earthy quality made only from fermented honey, water and yeast. Two notable styles are pyments, sweetened with wine, or cysers, made with apple cider. Nino’s has always carried an assortment of meads. However, lately, we have been making way for more–due to demand, especially for Michigan-made meads.
If you want to go with a traditional style, Chaucer’s may be the one for you. In the Santa Cruz Mountains, California, Chaucer’s has been making mead and fruit wines since 1964. A combination of sage, cotton-alfalfa, orange flower and mountain wildflower honey gives their mead a unique, nature-driven flavor that lingers beneath the honeyed sweetness. Be sure to try it as a warm, mulled treat, with the complementary spice bag.
A great introductory mead would be Ireland’s Bunratty Meade. Though it is technically a pyment, sweetened with white-wine grapes, it is light, floral, and smooth with a honey liquor finish.
Perhaps you’ve tried these and are looking for something fresh and interesting? Then look no further than Ferndale’s B. Nektar. B. Nektar started in 2008, and when they offered to come to Nino’s to share their new product, we couldn’t get them in the door fast enough! Like good Riesling, B. Nektar mastered the balance between sweetness and acidity while capturing the essence of the flowers that produced the honey. Though B. Nektar has very tasty traditional meads (my favorite being the Orange Blossom), its experimental carbonated series has brought the most acclaim.
It started with Zombie Killer, a cherry cyser. Tart cherry juice is added to the apple cider mead, giving it a pop of flavor. The Zombie Killer is by far our best-selling mead. It’s tart, fruity, fizzy and delicious. You’ll also enjoy the mango black-pepper-flavored Necromangocon and Evil Genius IPA-style mead, both delicious in their own right.
Michigan is in the middle of an inspiring craft beer boom. Mead is riding the wave, and we are all better for it.