Saturday, October 15, 2011

Moonlight Meadery – Liquid Gold from New Hampshire



I’ve heard enough feedback about mead in the last eight years that I can say you either like mead or not, but all too often the mind is made up from only one style of mead; and there are many to try. I invite anyone who hasn’t experienced mead or enough of it to come and give it a try.

As a home brewer, cidermaker and winemaker I’ve also dabbled in mead. Early on I learned that mead has different names depending on what it is made with. I’ve made mead twice, two more batches are in the queue to start next month, and have yet to cover all the primary styles. Below is a concise overview of those styles. There are many other variations and names for mead.
  • Traditional – water, honey and yeast. That’s it. People interested in mead should try this style to get a baseline for what wine made from honey tastes like. All of the rest of the variations below are riffs on this, using the honey, water and yeast as the starting point.
  • Metheglin – contains spices. I made an Orange/Vanilla mead this year that is technically a metheglin. The orange was low volume and the vanilla is a predominant flavor in the finished product. Other spices like cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, tea and ginger are all commonly used. My first mead was a Blackberry with nutmeg so either a metheglin or melomel (up next).
  • Melomel – made with fruit. Next to traditional mead this is the second most popular type in my experience. Berries, cherries, currant, mango, etc. These can come dry or sweet depending on the maker’s preference. If made with apples and grapes, see below.
  • Pyment – made with grapes or grape juice. I’ve only had a few of these, one just last night in fact that was rockstar, and this is an area I will experiment with in the coming years. If oak aged it can have a port-like character.
  • Braggot – made with hops and/or malt. Another variation I’ve only had a couple of times, but has intense character. The best one I've had came from Michael at Moonlight Meadery (we’re getting to he and his meads!) and was in an Imperial Stout form. Another area for potential experimentation for me.
  • Cyser – made with apples or cider. I am making one of these next weekend, with some cinnamon. Sort of baked apples perhaps.
I wouldn’t know nearly as much as I do about mead and what it can be if it wasn’t for Michael Fairbrother and Moonlight Meadery. I’ve already said many glowing things about Michael and Moonlight Meadery in this blog, but they are all very much deserved. The breadth of styles and flavors presented in the products really does offer something for everyone; also representing a lesson in the varied styles of mead. Michael is a passionate meadmaker and business person who regularly tells me in a humble and unassuming way that the growth and interest in this very new business has been way beyond his original expectations. Moonlight is growing and expanding rapidly, outgrowing smaller brewing equipment several times just this year, seeing a deluge of orders and starting to add full-time staff to answer the call of the thirsty consumer. Moonlight Meadery is the first winery in New Hampshire to have distribution in California. Michael and his award winning meads came from the community of home brewers in New Hampshire, aptly named Brew Free or Die, a group he continues to support and give back to. 

( Micheal Fairbrother explaining to my parents how the meads are made. )

The best way to continue to shower Moonlight Meadery with well deserved accolades is to review two of their products. I’m already a convert to the meads from Moonlight, but as any frequent reader of my blog will know, I tell it like I see it and don’t say positive things just because.Check out Moonlight Meadery's full product line at http://www.moonlightmeadery.com/content/our-meads

Utopian

When I first had this product described to me I was pretty sure it was going to be a magical experience. Why? It is mead aged in the oak barrels that had been previously used to age Utopias, a super-premium beer from the company behind the Sam Adams brand. Knowing what aging in spent barrels has done for many beer and spirits makers I had no doubt something of interest was in store.

The mead pours a brilliant gold color with a hint of a shift to orange/brown, something I am going to guess comes from the oak aging. The nose is huge of honey, baked fruits and spices. The mouth is a bit spicy as well, with dried fruits and an obvious spirit like quality to it. There is sweetness here, but it is needed due to the complexity of the fruit and spice flavors. This is the most complex mead I have ever had and the complexity lingers straight through the finish. The perception of the alcohol is an asset in this drink, elevating it to a place where you think you are drinking aged spirits. I’ll give this a +1 in the kicks total ass category!

Indulge

Pours a gold color with a slight haze. Citrus and spices (cinnamon at the very least) meet you before you can get your nose to the glass. On the palate it is sweet and spicy, a drink that made me think of after dinner sipping by the fire. I know, a romantic. But I do have a killer room with a nice view and a wood stove for the colder months. There is a good deal of orange here, that and the sweetness were things I was told to expect to come from the orange blossom honey used to make it. The cinnamon provides a warming affect, which supports all that I've said here about how and where you might enjoy it.

This is certainly a sweet finish for my Regional Wine Week enjoyment. Decadent drinks from a business that is blowing up in my home state of New Hampshire. Moonlight Meadery is located two minutes from my house so anytime people want to come pay a visit we can go taste and Moonlight and then come back to my place and raid the cellar!

Cheers!

Jason

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

3 comments:

Sippity Sup said...

Mead is something I have heard of but it stops there. Now I have even heard a bit more, but still wonder what it tastes like. I wonder where it can be bought in CA? GREG

Megan said...

I enjoyed being schooled on Mead.... love to learn something new. Lucky you to be able taste all these different Meads.

Anonymous said...

@Sippity Sup Moonlight Meadery is sold in California through the distributor Lime Ventures! Checkout the meadery's website for a list of accounts