Nearly 1,700 people gathered at B. Nektar Meadery in Ferndale on Saturday,to celebrate what ancient civilizations once considered to be the nectar of the gods.
With its highest-ever attendance, the Spring Mead Fest proves that one of the oldest alcoholic beverages in recorded history has staying power — and B. Nektar has been instrumental in its local resurgence.
“Every day we convert somebody else, and then they convert somebody,” said B. Nektar Co-Founder and CEO Brad Dahlhofer.
Dahlhofer, along with his wife, Kerri, and friend Paul Zimmerman, founded B. Nektar in 2006 and officially opened for business two years later. Dahlhofer said that their grand opening event, held on National Mead Day, paved the way for festivals to come.
“We weren’t a brewery, so we couldn’t participate in any of the Michigan Brewers Guild festivals,” Dahlhofer explained.
Instead, B. Nektar started holding an annual Summer Mead Fest, and then added an annual Spring Mead Fest in 2013.
This year’s Spring Mead Fest was held in the parking lot of B. Nektar’s former production facility, just down the street from its new facility and tap room. Visitors could purchase tickets to turn in for samples, including B. Nektar’s traditional still meads; popular mainstays such as Zombie Killer and Necromangocon; and some new offerings from 14 limited-batch specialty taps.
Spring Mead Fest attendees could also purchase a number of limited release bottles, including #dragonsarereal — a cherry chocolate chipotle mead aged in New Holland Brewing’s Dragon’s Milk barrels — and Anasazi, a barrel aged buckwheat mead. Festival food was provided by Detroit BBQ Company, Buffy’s Mexi-Casian Grill and Treat Dreams, while DJ Psycho of Detroit Techno Militia entertained the crowd.
And for the first time ever, B. Nektar was also able include ciders, braggots and beer in its festival lineup, thanks to a recently acquired microbrewery license. Selections included Apple Pale Ale, Baltic Porter Braggot, Berliner Braggot, Imperial Hefeweizen and Cranberry Orange Zest Cider.
Dahlhofer explained that Zombie Killer — made with apple cider, tart cherry juice and honey — was a segue into even more cider production. He noted that two new ciders on tap at Spring Mead Fest — The Dude’s Rug (chai cider) and Slice of Life (lemon and ginger cider) — are now part of B. Nektar’s regular production schedule, with distribution in Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania.
In addition, Dahlhofer and the B. Nektar team are staying busy with continued growth, including the meadery’s recent launch in Copenhagen, Denmark, as well as plans to expand distribution to another 10 states in the U.S. within the next couple of years. B. Nektar fans can also look forward to its Summer Mead Fest in August.