Yes, another mead post! This time around our travels brought my husband and I back to Prescott (pronounced press-kit) Arizona, where we went to college (at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University). A friend had told us about Superstition Meadery, and I just had to go. This is a smaller mountain town (at least when I left over 7 years ago) so I was surprised to learn it now has a meadery! Especially because they don’t even have a cidery, and only a handful of breweries. Superstition also makes some cider, so its still semi on-topic for this blog. Superstition Meadery is located in downtown Prescott, on “Whiskey Row”, under the “Old Capitol Market” shop (which sells spices and jams and such). This tasting room has only been open about a year (they will have their first year anniversary party on Oct 24), but they have been selling their meads since 2012, and making them for about 10 years.
<display rack in the store enticing folks to go downstairs into the meadery>
You oddly enough have to walk through the shop to get to the meadery (although apparently they only lease the space and aren’t associated with the shop). If we hadn’t known it was there, it would have been easy to miss, even with the sidewalk sign and their name on the window.
They make the mead (and cider) on-site, and one of the coolest parts of the tasting room is the window which looks into their workshop. We visited on a Saturday afternoon with a few friends. We had actually dropped by Friday night as some other friends were hanging out there (it was a big alumni reunion type weekend for us), but didn’t stay as the live music was way too loud. I wanted to be able to enjoy my mead with less folks around, and maybe even chat up the staff. During our Saturday visit my husband Aaron was lucky enough to spot an employee walking into the workshop and asked it we could have a tour. Lucky us. Thanks Justin!
<small batch mead in their workshop, including a few cherry trials on the left,
and some rhubarb which will have strawberry added at the far right>
It was a really classy place just to chill with friends, with a bar, comfy chairs & tables, and a nice overall vibe. Pretty unusual for Prescott!
They serve mead (a type of wine made from fermenting honey & water), cider, grape wine, and appetizers/tapas. Something to please most folks. Plus, it appears to be an all ages place (they even have some kids food selections on the menu). They offer a flight of all 12 selections (11 mead and 1 cider that day), or you can choose taster size pours individually, plus a few off-flight mead options (two which were barrel aged versions of the on-flight meads, and one cocktail). Of course I opted for the full flight of 12, which was lower cost than purchasing individually as it worked out to only $2 each, when some were $3 individually.
Although it was $24, it was plenty for 2 people. There were four of us to start (more showed up later), so after the flight we each got a couple more sample size glasses or a full glass of what we liked (and one person chose red wine instead of mead lol). The pours were quite generous too. Click to biggify the menu photos. The only food we tried was the bread with oil & vinegar, which was a good choice considering the amount we drank! No standard bar fare to be had here (I was kinda craving a soft pretzel). The mead menu is laid out from dry to sweet, and they really ran the full spectrum.
Except for the cider, these were meads noted to be in order from Dry to Sweet, which I found mostly true:
Blueberry Spaceship Box, 6.9% ABV: Blueberry cider. Semi-dry. Tart. I get a lot of blueberry skin flavor, definitely from adding real blueberries, not just juice (or what some cideries do, artificial flavor). Noticeable tannins and astringency. Unique, but I didn’t find it to my liking (although all my table mates did). I found it very interesting that this cider is actually the top user rated cider on RateBeer.com! Its pretty limited availability, so its interesting they got so many folks to try it and rate it highly.
Lagrimas de Oro, 13.5% ABV: Bourbon barrel aged mead. Dry. More barrel notes in the scent than taste. Alcohol-forward (boozy). Tart and astringent. Not a fan, and I don’t think anyone at the table was.
Alexander the Grapefruit, 8.5% ABV: Grapefruit and hops mead. Dry to semi-dry. Floral and citrus notes, tart, and definitely hopped (although mild, I’m just a wuss when it comes to hops)! Not a fan, but one or two folks at the table were.
Tahitian Honeymoon, 13.5% ABV: Tahitian vanilla bean mead, oak barrel aged. Semi-dry. Lovely vanilla, honey, and oak notes. The vanilla notes were on the tart side, and the barrel influence was moderate. Kinda wine-like. I enjoyed this one (my fourth favorite).
Amnesia, 14% ABV: Cyser (made from apples & honey) with Welsh Mugwort. Semi-dry. Check out this issue of American Mead Maker for an article on Superstition and the backstory on Amnesia, which was a Welsh collaboration. It tasted like cyser with a hint of weird herbal notes to me. A couple folks at the table didn’t mind it though.
Let Them Eat Cake, 12% ABV: Raspberry mead. Semi-dry. Sweet raspberry scent, but this was a drier tart mead. This one was rather well received at our table. Not bad.
Maple Stinger, 13.5% ABV: Maple mead, bourbon barrel aged. On the drier side of semi-sweet. Maple-oak scent. Maple start and barrel notes with the finish. Not too much honey flavor came through. Longer finish. Awesome! My second favorite. I don’t remember anyone else at the table noting they liked it though. I’m a huge maple and barrel aged fan however.
Mad Hatter, 16.5% ABV: Apple, mango, and Belgian dark candi mead. On the drier side of semi-sweet. I picked up berry notes in the scent oddly enough. Tart. All in all weird; I just didn’t get this one, and it seemed to have too many competing flavors. I think it was aptly named! I don’t think anyone at our table liked it too much.
Marion Mead, 13.5% ABV: Marion berry, blueberry, and raspberry mead. On the sweeter side of semi-sweet. Very berry indeed. Nicely balanced tart-sweet. This was a big crowd pleaser at our table, but I wasn’t too big of a fan (I’m usually not too impressed by berry ciders though, so I wasn’t surprised).
Safeword, 12% ABV: Belgian Dark Strong Mead (BDSM). Sweet. I picked up brown sugar, molasses, and a hint of coffee. Slight herbal & spiced finish. Very complex. Another crowd pleaser at our table. My third favorite. However, I don’t think I’d want more than a small glass of it, as it was really rich. I bet this would taste awesome warm. This is the mead our friend who recommended Superstition said was his favorite, and it was my husband’s favorite.
Honey Highway, 12% ABV: Prickly pear mead aged in new oak barrels. Sweet. Smelled of honey, tartness, and oak. This one was pretty weird, and I don’t think any of my table mates liked it. I didn’t find that the prickly pear directly came across; it only seemed to add tartness.
Ragnarok, 14% ABV: Mead with local catclaw honey and mango nectar. Sweet to very sweet (more like a desert mead I think). The honey flavor came across with this mead more than the others. Very smooth. Lovely tropical notes. I had this with the flight, then ordered another taster, as it was my favorite. Well-hidden ABV. Bold flavors. This was another crowd pleaser at the table. Amazing!
Barrel Aged Ragnarok, 14% ABV: The same as above but barrel aged. Sweet to very sweet. As I was drinking the second Ragnarok taster, I realized they had an off-flight barrel aged version of it! So, I ordered a taster and compared the two side by side. Definitely oak barrel notes, mild to moderate. Even smoother than the regular Ragnarok. I think barrel aging really makes any cider or mead better.
Overall Superstition Meadery was a tad pricey (especially the bottles to take home), but its a local craft product, mead is expensive to produce, and we were on vacation. I kinda wished they had half size bottles as many dessert wines do instead of the 750s, as that cuts down the commitment (both quantity and cost). My husband had to convince me a bit to drop the $48 on my favorite mead there, the Barrel Aged Ragnarok, as that is far more than I’ve ever spent on a bottle of anything. Their bottles were $28-$48 for 750ml (compared to $25 at Æsir Meadery for reference).
I was surprised they didn’t charge any more for the barrel aged version of the Ragnarok versus the regular, considering a barrel costs hundreds of dollars, and the mead ages for months or possibly years, taking up floor space and tying up money. Its awesome they had so many barrel aged meads. I learned they have a broker they use just to obtain barrels. Also, they collaborate with some folks such as breweries to pass the barrels back and forth, which will add different flavor notes. Check out the Barrel page on their website for great info.
However, in the end I was happy to splurge, and I think alcohol makes a great souvenir. Apparently mead can stay open for quite awhile in the fridge as it doesn’t oxidize very quickly, so I’ll probably open a bottle when the mood strikes and work on a bottle for awhile. I’m intrigued to try these warm, as I liked the mead selections at Æsir best when warm. I ended up getting a bottle each of the Barrel Aged Ragnarok and Maple Stinger. I had come prepared with bags, rubber bands, and bubble wrap, and am happy to report both bottles made it home in our checked luggage safely. I should have taken a photo of my handiwork as it looked pretty funny.
<meads & merchandise for sale, and the bottles I took home>
I even got a chance to try the Tahitian Honeymoon mead again later in the night at Granite Mountain Brewing down the street. They offer one mead and one cider from Superstition (on tap) at a time, but were out of the cider (although I probably would have chosen the mead anyways). My drinking buddies all enjoyed their beer from there, and we were happy to find their outdoor patio tucked way in the back, to escape the ever-present live music which was way too loud to be able to converse.
I highly recommend Superstition Meadery if you find yourself in Prescott AZ, or if you can find them elsewhere. They have the most availability in AZ, a couple spots in CA, IA (soon), and even Denmark, Singapore, Japan, and Thailand (soon). They will also soon be shipping bottles to 33 states through VinoShipper (same as Æsir; VinoShipper appears to be the only mead-friendly online market). Check out the Availability page on their website.
They are also expanding. To start, they have secured a production facility location at the Prescott airport, where they plan to make most of their meads, and only make sours (which they don’t currently sell yet) at the current tasting room. I really wish we still lived in Prescott as Superstition Meadery has a club where you get special access (such as tasting their mead experiments), behind the scenes info, special releases etc. They actually have a waiting list just to get into the club next year!
So, you may ask, how does Superstition compare to the meads I had from Æsir (and to a lesser extend, Moonlight)? I think they are all rather on-par for quality, but they had as many similarities as differences in their flavors. From each I preferred the sweeter selections, as I found them more flavorful. I’ve also confirmed I don’t like spiced or overly tart mead, same as I don’t like spiced or overly tart or bitter cider. However, just because I don’t like something doesn’t mean you won’t; they make so many varieties of mead & cider for a reason!