Long before craft beers hit the scene, and centuries before grapes were crushed into wine, there was a liquid gold nectar that started it all — Honey Mead. The oldest form of liquid libation known to man, Mead has been enjoyed around the world for more than 8,000 years. It is even believed its origins can be traced back more than 20,000 years in Africa.
This captivating nectar was once known as the drink of the gods. Long before wine was made from crushed grapes, Mead was used in celebrations and religious festivals throughout many cultures in Africa, Asia and Europe. While it still has its place in some celebrations, honey unfortunately has taken a back seat to grape juice, and mead crafting has become a lost art form…or has it?
Lucky for us Mead is making a comeback! New meaderies are popping up all over the place over the last few years, and mead makers are flaunting their creativity with new blends and flavors. As we experienced with Maine Meadworks in Portland, Maine restaurants and bars are even beginning to craft new cocktails with mead and chefs are beginning to incorporate it into their cooking.
For those of you who may not know, wine and mead making has been a hobby of ours for several years now. And while we enjoy crafting our own intoxicating blends, it’s also nice to enjoy other’s creations too.
We recently learned about a fairly young meadery that is promoting the craft in our own state, Superstition Meadery in Prescott, Arizona. We just had to take a day trip to check them out.
They are located in a modern urban industrialized basement of an old brick building right on Gurley Street in the town square. From the moment you walk in, you are enveloped by the trendy hipster vibe of the place, which helped Andrew feel right at home.
The cozy tasting room can get crowded, but they offer bar top seating and tables for various size groups. We chose a table with big comfy chairs as we planned to hang out for a while and taste all they have to offer.
We started off with a flight of 12 meads for $24. They were brought out on cute little wooden trays they’ve obviously had specially made to resemble honeycomb. The flavors in this flight offered a little something for everyone with a nice variety of what I would consider semi-dry to sweet and fruity meads. The average beer or wine drinker might find mead to be a little sweet for their taste, but I actually enjoy the sweetness the honey lends to this liquid gold beverage.
Traditionally mead is made with honey, water and yeast. The type of honey and yeast used with have an effect on the flavor and sweetness of the mead. Herbs, fruits and flavors can also be added to season the mead and produce a plethora of flavors. This is where mead making becomes a craft.
Being able to bring together a combination of flavors that is new, creative and pleasing to the palate is not an easy task, but in talking to the staff and tasting the finished product, this crew seems to have a lot fun with it.
The owners Jeff and Jen were not there when we visited, but one of their staff members Matt was nice enough to sit down with us and talk about their craft. He even gave us a little tour of their production room and shared with us the process that goes into developing new flavors and varietals.
From 12 gallon demijohns to 53 gallon oak barrels, to large 250 gallon vats, we were able to see the fermentation and aging in action. Matt tells us that they have some house favorites as well as some seasonal varieties that they ferment in large batches. They then take smaller samplings or batches in 5 gallon carboys or 12 gallon demijohns to experiment with different flavor combinations.
One example of this is their Peanut Butter and Jelly Crime which had just been released that morning and sold out in the same day. Unfortunately we didn’t get to taste that one, but we did have the opportunity to sample two varietals of it, one made with banana and the other made with marshmallow cream. The jury is still out on which one was better, Andrew liked the banana while I thought the marshmallow offered a smoother toastier flavor.
In the 5 years they have been in business, Superstition Meadery has introduced over 110 unique flavors of mead and hard cider. They have also won several awards for their meads, which can be seen adorning their walls along with mementos from earlier collaborations.
Some of our favorites from our tasting included the Tahitian Honeymoon, Safeword and Ragnarok.
They also offer a nice selection of appetizers to munch on while you enjoy your tasting. We really enjoyed the Salmon Bruschetta and the Panini Melt which came with a side of their incredible house made tapenade.
Overall we had a fabulous time learning more about one of our favorite hobbies and we will definitely be back to visit these folks again. You should stop in and pay them a visit too!
Other things to do in the Prescott area: