Mead for the masses
Colorado Daily, Thursday, April 3, 2003, Section B
By Cathy Christiansen For the Colorado Daily
What does mead taste like?
A visit to the tasting rooms at Redstone Meadery will answer that question...and then some. Mead is a light garnet color and tastes like sparkling black raspberries - something like summertime in a glass. Or is it amber, tasting like juniper berries, with a slight gin-like flavor and the suggestion of oak? Maybe it tastes like vanilla, with a hint of cinnamon that curls around the back of your throat? Or perhaps like cool clear golden honey wine, a taste that reconnects with genetic memory, the first fermented beverage known to man (and woman). Could it be mead in that crescent-moon shaped bottle?
At first sip, the deep ruby liquid slides simply across the tongue, the releases a depth charge that fills the mouth with an explosion of deep ripe berries lightly spun with honey. Your eyes close as winged cherubs circulate around your head. Then your lips turn up in a smile as you see there is another 1/4 inch left in the tasting glass.
Mead defies pigeonholing. It comes in a myriad of colors and flavors. It can be sparkling or still, sweet or dry, flavored with fruit or spices, and the list goes on. David Myers, 36, began Redstone Meadery (4700 Pearl Street in Boulder/720-406-1215/redstonemeadery.com) with his sparkling black raspberry nectar. Since then, he has seen his business explode. He currently produces a variety of seasonal flavors of mountain honey wine and two flavors of nectar. The honey wine is 12 percent alcohol and the nectar, 8 percent.
"Mead is a wonderful thing. But it makes you want to get on the table and dance the can can." Myers said. "The nice thing about the low alcohol easy-drinking nectar is we're not trying to keep you off the table, we're just trying to buy you an hour or two."
Along with the wine and nectar, Myers is unveiling his piece de resistance, Redstone Reserve at the end of April. The Reserve, (described above in the crescent-moon shaped bottle) already has a waiting list of 100 people for the $50 bottles.
Myers is spearheading a national campaign to educate people about mead. He is working to dispel the common misconception that mead is a heavy, dessert-type beverage. "We're making meads of all different types," he said. "I could match my meads to a five course meal, everything from an aperitif, to a reisling-like dinner wine to a serious port."
Further mead-education will occur in October when the Redstone Meadery will host "Planet Buzz," the international mead festival here in Boulder.
Last year, the one-of-a-kind festival was in held Chicago, with 48 meads competing from as far away as Poland.
"We're extraordinarily excited that this is coming together," Myers said. "Bringing these wonderful mead makers to Boulder to show their stuff."
Myers said he expects the festival to grow even bigger this year.
"It will be something like the Great American Beer Festival, but with mead," he said, adding, "They have it easier, everyone knows what beer is.
I mention mead and a common response is 'What kind of meat?'"
There are an estimated 40 meaderies in the U.S. today with the industry seeing a 100 percent growth in the past 5-7 years.
"Mead is something that comes around like clockwork every 2,000 to 3,000 years," Myers said. "I saw the wave coming and decided to get on."
His business has been featured on the Food Network, U.S. News and World Report, while National Geographic and Spin magazine call mead "the next buzz."
Myers recipe for success includes using knowledge he gleaned from years in the microbrewery industry. "I'm a home brewer at heart, what else can I say?" Myers said. "I'm less interested in consistency than in being consistently good."
He also credits his staff, especially Julia Herz, vice president of marketing and promotions. "We have given it our absolute best, have had great timing and personnel, as well as a profession for passion," Myers said.
But the most important ingredients in his mead are the intangibles. Inspiration comes from the variety of honey, fruits and other ingredients available, trial and error, and time spent sitting with new ideas. "I'm more of a believer in the magic than the science," Myers said.
Among the ingredients listed on the labels of all Redstone bottles you will find honey and water, but you will also find "The Love."
"The Reserve, especially, is all about the love," Myers said. "It's the biggest and most giant mead, something we did just for the love of doing it."
With bottling recently completed on the Reserve, Myers was moving 500 of the rare bottles by forklift when the back wheels slipped off the platform.
"Everyone gathered together and carefully unloaded it by hand," Myers said. "A friend was driving by on Foothills and saw what was going on and he turned around and came back to help."
"We saved every bottle," he added. "Love will survive."
Myers emphasizes the importance of enjoyment in tasting mead. "Whether it is here at the tasting room or our tent at an event, I want you to feel like you are at home," he said. "I take my living room wherever I am. I want people to walk into a space and have it cozy and comfortable. When you leave you'll be smiling."
The brightly painted tasting room on old Pearl features a big oak dinner table and Mead memorabilia throughout. During the winter months, the meadery has live music on Saturday afternoons. "It's important to take time to connect," Myers said. "To make people smile. Right now we need it more than ever."
The tour of the mead making equipment will take 15 minutes and tasting, another 15 minutes. Experimental mead flavors and certain varieties of mead are only available at the tasting room.
Aside from the tasting room, Myers' mead will be served at a variety of fundraisers throughout the summer, including Nedfest and Rockygrass.
It is also available at liquor stores and several area restaurants; the Broker Inn, the Southern Sun Brewery, The Pub at Rockies Brewery, and Ras Kassas.
Currently, Myers is gearing up for the busy summer season and the release of his coveted Reserve. A visit to the meadery will give you a good background on mead and its production and provide a chance to taste several varieties of the enchanted beverage. As Myers said, "Mead adds something to your being, it's magic."