Where to find it
Where to find Author Mead’s draft mead:
• Ben’s Bottle Shop
Address: The Mill, 8052 E. Mill Plain Blvd., Vancouver.
Hours: Noon to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; noon to midnight Friday and Saturday
Contact: 360-314-6209 or BensBottleShop.com
• Hockinson Market
Address: 15814 N.E. 182nd Ave., Brush Prairie
Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Contact: 360-892-1054 or HockinsonMarket.com
For more information about Author Mead, visit www.authormead.com
On 60 acres of farmland in Hockinson, Mike Wright and Kelly Collins are engaged in the seemingly oxymoronic task of modern mead-making.
Yes, mead — that honey-based, musty, boozy drink found at Renaissance faires paired with a large, roasted turkey leg and swilled while watching chain mail-clad horsemen joust to the music of lutes and dulcimers.
Mead is an ancient alcoholic beverage, most likely the result of some lucky fool who found an upturned beehive filled with fermented rainwater. He drank it and realized that it made his legs wobbly, everything became funny, and howling and dancing under the moon seemed like a good idea.
Author Mead is a modern version of this ancient drink. It’s a honey-based alcoholic beverage, but it’s not ye olde drink.
“It’s not traditional mead,” explained Wright, who refers to himself as head brewer rather than “mead-maker” or “mazer.”
“Traditional meads are 12 to 20 percent alcohol content, very boozy. Traditionally, they’re still, they’re not carbonated. Ours is carbonated and it’s 6 percent alcohol content. You can drink several glasses and not feel intoxicated.”
Collins, Author Mead’s director of sales, later added, “You won’t see us at a Renaissance faire.”
Draft mead is brewed like beer. Collins explained, “It’s like brewing beer, but we don’t have to get our sugars to liquid form. They’re already in liquid form.”
The process starts with honey and water instead of grain. Honey is viscous and slippery and unstable. It requires great care and attention to maintain the right consistency. Wright (who has a technology background) has set up a computer network that gauges gravity and temperature in the tanks, and an app to monitor and control the brewing. Collected data is stored so that when a batch turns out well, it can be re-created.
The finished product tastes a bit like cider and, like cider, is gluten free. The Semi-sweet Draft Mead is just honey, water and yeast with carbonation.
In a glass, it looks like champagne and smells like beeswax. It’s dry, light and refreshing — perfect with an aged cheese.
The berry flavors (raspberry and marionberry) have subtle notes of fruit. The raspberry has a mix of tart and sweet from the raspberries. The marionberry is a bit sweeter, with hints of berry pie. The berry meads go well with chocolate.
Draft mead hits that sweet spot of 6 percent alcohol by volume: a drink you can sit outside with, sip for a while and feel only a slight, warm buzz without losing track of time or your way home.
Wright is currently working on an IPM (India Pale Mead) which he describes as “the Holy Grail.” He is nine batches into creating this hoppy mead, but isn’t satisfied with it yet.
“It’s hard to achieve, because with beer you have grains that hops can glom onto. With honey there’s nothing for it to bind to,” he said.
But Wright and Collins feel confident their IPM will be ready to sell soon. They also plan to open a tap room at their meadery — a gorgeous piece of land with views of Mount Hood.
Rachel Pinsky can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @couveeats.