Tonight in the Redwood City store, we are excited to host our first ever Mead Tasting, featuring the award-winning Meads of Moonlight Meadery from Londonderry, New Hampshire. The tasting is from 5pm-6:30pm and is a rare opportunity to taste with a master while learning more about this fascinating, ancient elixer. One of the top, small producers of mead in the US, Moonlight's meads range in style from dry to spicy to sweet; traditional to wild! These make exciting and complex food-pairings too. You will not want to miss this special tasting and opportunity to take your palate in an entirely new direction.
A little background...Moonlight founder Michael Fairbrother's passion for mead began at first sip, initiating a "romance" has evolved into a lifelong love affair with Mead. Even the name "Moonlight" is inspired by the association between honey and the tradition of the honeymoon, and you'll see that the names of the different meads are also inspired by themes of desire, love and passion.
Kinky stuff aside, these are seriously good meads. A certified BJCP judge, Michael is a vertiable mead, cider, and beer "master". Moonlight's stellar reputation is founded on its award-winning traditional Meads, but has won many fans for its creative, exotic recipes, too. Michael continues to perfect his craft as he experiments with innovative limited productions, new recipes, and food and wine pairings. He is always sharing news and updates about new meads and events on the Moonlight blog.
We hope you make it to tonight's tasting, but in case you can't, we reached out to the folks at Moonlight Meadery to give us a little background on mead and the Moonlight philosophy to share, below.
Also...a limited selection of featured meads are available now on KLWines.com (search "moonlight). Shop online and try them at home!
Q&A: Behind the Scenes with Moonlight Meadery
What is Mead?
Mead is the oldest fermented beverage known to man. In its basic form the sugar source is simply fermented honey and water. Mead is diverse ranging from dry to sweet, and can have fruit added (melomels); spice added (methegins); or apple cider (cysers) and many more styles other than just traditional.
Describe the Moonlight Meadery philosophy of Mead production.
Moonlight Meadery uses unpasteurized, top grade, True Source Certified honey that is guaranteed to follow fair trade practices and can be tracked back to the regionally local hives. Our average turnaround time is approx. 3 – 4 months except our barrel aged meads which ferment anywhere from 3 months to 3 years. We prefer to use local fruit and spices whenever possible and we insist on using only the best ingredients to produce the same award winning grade meads that mead maker Michael Fairbrother made that won him international awards.
What different styles of Mead do you produce and how are they distinguished? What makes your Meads particularly unique compared to others on the market?
Styles: Traditional or Au Naturel – basic fermented honey and water – single varietal honey can differ greater one from another in taste.
Melomels – fruit added
Metheglins – spice added
Unique – barrel aged
Moonlight Meadery meads are unique compared to others on the market in that we produce the largest variety of meads worldwide as far as we know. We believe in bringing the scope of what mead can be to the broader main stream market.
Our formulas are typically higher in alcohol and the flavor profiles are more pronounced with the use of unpasteurized honey that does not drop either the aromas or ingredient flavors. Variety is strategic and we ensure even our sweetest meads are balanced and not overly, cloyingly sweet. Our tag line “Romance by the glass” and unique romantic mead names are linked to the term honeymoon and the legend of where mead came from.
Our success is that we focus on tastings where our meads are sampled and we get reactions like, “WOW! This is nothing like I have ever tasted before!”
Tell us about your honey source(s) and what makes them special.
Tell us about your honey source(s) and what makes them special.
We only use top grade True Source Certified honey that guarantees fair trade practices and can be tracked back to the regionally local hives. This supports our local apiaries while guaranteeing finest quality and safety to our fan base.
What kinds of food are best enjoyed with Mead? Any favorite pairings?
Mead is so diversified that you can pair varieties with cheese, main dishes or desserts. Consider either a bold, complex melomel like Embrace (Black Currants) or Flame (Black Currant and Rhubarb) that have a sharp, tart finish, paired with a distinctly opposite cheese taste profile like a Brie or Camembert.
Try our favorite Desire, our flagship made with blue berries, black currants, black cherries with a sharp cheddar as a cheese pairing; a traditional Italian meat sauce for a main course or a Belgium chocolate for dessert. We have several restaurants that pair our Coffee in Bed with their dessert menu for German Chocolate Cake or Tiramisu. Kamasumatra (Sumatra coffee & Vanilla) was voted in California as a top cigar drink. This is why we specialize in diversity.
Do you have plans for new styles of Mead on the horizon?
Michael is always being creative. Currently we do 56 varieties, some seasonal. Michael is getting married in August this year and is planning on releasing his special, first ever commercial sparkling mead for his wedding. We will be releasing Stiletto a black currant and apple mead soon. We are excited to add another barrel aged mead to our portfolio from Allagash, Curieux which we will name “Curiosity”. We have recently added several others to our line-up: Deviant, a sweet apple ginger; Temerity, an oak barrel aged black currant that is dry and refined; Mojo, an award winning mojito mead and Virtue, our apple cyser aged in an oak barrel. We always have something new in the wings.
What Mead do you like to recommend for folks trying it for the first time? For more adventurous palates?
For Virgin mead drinkers, "Sensual" or "Blossom". "Sensual" is our traditional wildflower honey mead. "Blossom" is light, local apple cider mead that is slightly sweet with almost no taste of alcohol even though it has a high ABV. Chilled you do not taste the alcohol at all! Great for someone who does not like a wine-like alcohol taste or as an introduction to mead.
For Connoisseurs either our spicy meads like "Scorn" or "Fury".
Try "Utopian" or any one of our barrel aged meads that are a step up in refinement and you get notes of bourbon and oak with more of a Cognac finish.
Can Mead be aged? When they are best consumed?
Yes, mead can be aged; we have had mead that aged for 15 years, spectacular! They may seem a little drier than when first bottled. Best time for consumption is a matter of personal taste. We say mead is now much more available, enjoy it now! Seasonal meads are best consumed right away to appreciate the bounties of nature in the current season.
Final thoughts on Mead and the Moonlight Meadery mission.
In just 2 years we have been successful in bringing ultra-premium meads to the broader market, now distributing to 7 states and we just shipped our first order to Australia. We continue to grow exponentially. We are well on our way to complete our mission to be the best Meadery worldwide.
*** May 24: K&L RWC| Special Mead Tasting with Moonlight Meadery! Join us for a special Mead Tasting & Seminar featuring the award-winning Meads of Moonlight Meadery! We will taste the following:
"Wicked" Dry Mead Made With Ginger & Madagascar Vanilla
"Flame" (dry) Rhubarb and Black Currants.
"Scorn" (Semi-Sweet) limited release.
"Sensual" (Sweet) Traditional mead; award winning recipe.
Cost to taste: $5. Walk in only. Final lineup and cost subject to change.