Corvallis, Oregon. Awhile ago I was on a personal quest to find out what the heck is mead. Locally I began to see tastings and classes pop-up. I knew it was an ancient beverage made from honey – but what did it really taste like? Was it as sugary sweet as drinking honey nectar?
No, it’s quite wonderfully not sweet, but I digress.
I began digging around and found Nectar Creek which is run by two brothers, Phil and Nick Lorenz. It was their dream since they were teenagers to start a business together. In between years at college, Phil took a job at a bee farm and even began tending his own bees. Phil and Nick both liked experimenting with the process of fermentation, one thing led to another and Nectar Creek was born.
At its most basic formulation, Mead is a fermented drink made from honey, water, and yeast. Though it has its own range of distinctive flavors, like beer, there are many different flavor combinations that are possible. Phil has been known to add hibiscus, ginger, hops, raspberries or wildflowers to attain a winning recipe. They test many small batches before determining which will be made for final bottling.
The Lorenz brothers specialize in session meads, “a hydromel (“water-honey, in Greek”), which is less than 10% in alcohol, effervescent and they tend to be dry.” says Phil Lorenz. They source their honey locally, and as often as possible, the other fresh fruit and spice ingredients that they use. Watch the video to learn more about how they make mead.
According to the American Mead Makers Association, there are only 210 meaderies registered in the United States.
As the brothers continue to dream up new flavors to make, they also have an eye toward a different dream: to build their production facility near a farm so they can grow their own fruit, raise bees to produce honey, and offer tours to the growing population of mead enthusiasts.
Like the microbrewery revolution that began (again) in the mid-1980’s, and over time took off, the session meads (in particular), seem well poised to make their own dramatic ascent.
For those of us who enjoy the occasional imbibe, that may be reason enough to celebrate.