So this weekend, I took a field trip with a dozen like-minded ChoWhounds to Orchid Cellar Meadery and Winery, just outside Frederick, Md. Our goal? To sample as many small-batch meads as the mazer (mead brewer) would pour!
Mead is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented honey. It is one of the oldest beverages — appearing to pre-date both beer and vinifera wine. In Poland, mead was made at home for many generations. Even my husband has made it in the past (I really should dig around that dark closet in the beach shack just in case there’s a bottle still hiding in the far corners!). The folks at Orchid Cellar are fourth-generation Polish mead brewers. They rely on traditional low-technology methods of fermentation and aging, with no artificial flavorings or preservatives added.
Meads can be on the boozy side — so probably not something you are going to guzzle. The can range from dry to fairly sweet. I wouldn’t call them subtle — they pair beautifully with sausages and cheeses. Andrzej Jr recommends serving them at “castle temp” — I like them chilled in the fridge and sipped in small portions — they warm up to “castle temp” pretty quickly. Unopened, these could keep for years. Opened and refrigerated, they should last for several months.
I purchased four varieties for my own consumption:
Melusine Dry Cyser – a fermented blend of apple juice and honey. Alcohol content ~12%, so more like a dry fruity wine. Versatile accompaniment to pork.
Beekeeper Kiwi Mead – inspired by Polish tradition of using gooseberries in mead. Alcohol content 16% – 18%. Delightful as an apertif with sausage and cheese.
Cobbler White Peach Mead – inspired by the availability of lush white peaches at a friend’s orchard in Pennsylvania. A little deeper flavor than the Beekeeper. Alcohol content 16% – 18%.
Archer Cinnamon and Clove Mead – my personal favorite. Dark and complex in flavor. Something to be savored in front of the fire this winter. Alcohol content 16% – 18%.
Their products can be purchased at the meadery, online, or at a number of retailers throughout Maryland. Please see their website for more details.
Standard caveat: This is a personal recommendation. I have been provided neither product nor compensation for this endorsement.