National Mead Day, a day crafted by the American Homebrew Association 10 years ago to give recognition to the oldest fermented beverage, was celebrated last Saturday by a group of 20 enthusiasts.
Motor City Brew Tours kicked off the event by taking the deluxe bus to Dragonmead Brewery, Kuhnhenn Brewing Co., Schramm’s Mead and B. Nektar Meadery.
The group consisted both of experienced mead drinkers such as Rex Halfpenny, and those with no mead background but a passion for knowledge of the craft.
“I know about beer, not mead,” said Ian Burk. “But I’m willing to try absolutely anything.”
Made by the combination of honey and water, boiled into syrup, with yeast and spices added, the result is a subtle to strong honey character with sweetness dependant on the additives. Dating back to the Middle Ages, mead was given to newlyweds for one moon cycle, in hopes of encouraging male offspring — coining the term honeymoon.
Dragonmead was the first stop on the tour, serving samples of their old-brewing style, backdrop and history. Samples of the mead Chardonnay Pyment, Very Berry and Old Guy Gunpowder Meth were distributed and Jerry Pippin, one of the various mead brewers, explained the process behind each. Old Guy Gunpowder Meth was brewed from the translation of an Olde English cookbook, “From Within The Closet of the Eminent Sir Kenelm Digby.”
“The recipe called for the craziest things and we tried to stay as true to it as possible,” said Pippin. “One of the directions said to let it rest from the time it takes to walk into town and back. We may have improvised on that one.”
From the old style to a more traditional approach, Kuhnhenn offered a selection of seven meads. The meads ranged from a sweet “drink on the back porch” mead to a more complex style aged in a bourbon barrel for three years. The social setting allowed brewers to raise wine glasses with guests and a chorus of cheers revered the day.
Schramm’s mead, new to Ferndale, opened its doors for a private event. The décor and mead highlighted the honey and fresh ingredients used in each of their meads. Yellow walls and honeycomb shapes lay the décor, while 1,400 pounds of Michigan-grown raspberries went into each batch of raspberry mead brewed.
Ken Schramm autographed copies of his book “The Complete Meadmaker” while his daughter, Allison provided a tour of the new facility.
The tour ended at B. Nektar’s 5-year anniversary party. Live music was played all night, mead was poured, and those who had never tasted the honey wine shared their newly acquired knowledge on the history, the brewing process and new methods.