Author Semi-Sweet Draft Mead

Not a cider review, but a mead (honey wine) review, of Author Mead’s “draft” Semi-Sweet variety.

Mead Name:  Semi-Sweet
Meadery Name:  Author Mead Co.
Meadery Location:  Vancouver WA
ABV:  6.5%
How Supplied:  four pack of 12oz cans
Style:  American craft “draft” style mead, lower ABV and carbonated, and made using brewing techniques

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Availability:  Washington and Oregon (see here)

Mead Description:  Thanks to the simplicity of ingredients – water, Raw American Honey and yeast – Semi-Sweet is truly a gateway into Draft Mead for those who don’t drink it on a regular basis. We left just enough residual sugars to balance out its crispness and still allow it to go down smooth. People say it tastes a lot more like its lager craft beer cousin than other mead out there today.

Meadery Description:  Crafted to be different…we assembled an all-star team of brewers and dreamers to explore how to help mead rise in the ranks of the craft brew world.  Our process of craft brewing mead advances that goal and we strive daily to deliver you something unique and tasty.  Game changed…get ready to meet the product that is changing the game in craft brewing.  We re-envisioned traditional mead to create crisp, carbonated and perfectly balanced style that pair equally well with a weekend exploring outdoors, a dinner party with friends or hanging out at your favorite tap house.  Let us introduce you to Author Draft Mead.

Where Bought:  Whole Foods in Western WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing

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First Impression:  Light straw yellow hue.  Very low carbonation.  Smells very mild, of sweet honey with a hint of floral.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry.  Light bodied.  Low tartness, acidity, and bitterness.  No sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of honey with hints of floral and lemon.  Long bitter beer-like chemically finish.  Low to moderate honey flavor.  High sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Low complexity.

My Opinion:  I liked the flavor until it got to the finish, which ruined it for me.  I assume it was from using brewing instead of wine (and cider & mead) techniques, which is the first time I’ve heard of this for mead.  I had 2 other people try it and they agreed with me, so it wasn’t just me.

Most Similar to:  drier sessionable meads like Nectar Creek Waggle, except with a weird finish

Closing Notes:  I’d recommend this for beer fans who want to try mead, but not so much for folks who like typical meads and cider.

Side Note:  I’ve found I prefer the more traditional meads, which are typically fuller flavored, sweeter, and higher ABV, over the drier carbonated session meads like this.

Have you tried Author Mead?  What did you think?

Sky River Cherry Vanilla Honey Wine (Mead)

Today I don’t have a cider to review, but a mead, Sky River’s Cherry Vanilla Honey Wine.  It is my first time trying this, but I have had most of their lineup (see my trip report here from when I visited their meadery tasting room).

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Mead:  Cherry Vanilla Honey Wine
Meadery:  Sky River
Location:  Redmond WA
ABV:  12%
How Supplied:  750ml bottles
Style:  American craft mead (honey wine), with cherries and vanilla

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Availability:  U.S. (Washington, California, Alaska, Idaho, Louisiana, & Pennsylvania), Japan, and Sweden, plus online sales

Mead Description:  The downy snow of blossom laden cherry trees.  The harbinger of spring.  Awakening the honey bees, and bringing the promise of new life.  With the blossoms come the tantalizing dreams of the promised lush cherries to come, and sumptuous days of sunshine.  Sky River Cherry Vanilla Mead reunites the honey and cherries.  Warm Honey and rich, dark Cherry, wedded with lush Vanilla bean  Enjoy with freshly grilled steaks, salmon, or even with your favorite custard.

Meadery Description:  From ancient cultures on distant shores, shrouded in mist, Sky River brings the age-old art of making mead into the twenty-first century to create a new tradition. 

Price:  $21
Where Bought:  a tasting event
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  a tasting event

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First Impression:  Dark cherry hue.  Still.  Smells of sweet cherry wine.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Light to medium bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of cherry with hints of honey & floral, then a moderate length vanilla finish.  Low honey flavor.  Moderate cherry flavor, sessionability, overall flavor intensity, and complexity.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed it.  Nice flavor, of real cherry.  I would have liked a bit more vanilla.  Definitely not honey-forward though.

Most Similar to:  A more real-tasting, more complex, and drier version of Eaglemount Cherry Mead.  I’ve also had d’s cherry vanilla cider, with awesome flavor, similarly not apple-forward, but it is quite sweet.

Closing Notes:  Mead is a nice complimentary option to cider.

Have you tried mead?  What did you think?

Heidrun Hawaiian Macadamia Nut Honey Mead

Review of Heidrun Meadery’s Hawaiian Macadamia Nut Varietal Honey Naturally Sparkling Mead.  It is my first time trying anything from this meadery.  Not cider, I know, but mead is another alternative beverage I enjoy.

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Mead:  Hawaiian Macadamia Nut Varietal Honey Naturally Sparkling Mead
Meadery:  Heidrun
Meadery Location:  Point Reyes Station, CA
ABV:  12.5%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged champagne bottle
Style:  American craft mead from Hawaiian macadamia nut honey (and water), dry, naturally sparkling (methode champenoise)

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Availability:  likely limited to Northern California (although they have online sales – this one is currently listed at $25 + shipping of course)

Mead Description:  A few years ago, we had the pleasure of visiting an apiary on the Big Island of Hawaii. Beekeepers here alternate between pollinating cultivated crops and allowing their bees to forage freely in the native tropical flora. The Macadamia is a cultivated tree, of course, and honey produced from its nectar is as succulent and rich as the macadamia nut itself. That richness results in a full-bodied, brut dry mead of subtle complexity and exceptional balance that pairs with a wide variety of foods, from raw oysters to smoked duck.

Meadery Description:  We produce naturally sparkling varietal meads using the traditional French Méthode Champenoise. Our trademark Champagne-style of mead is light, dry, delicate and refreshing, with subtle exotic aromas and flavors found
only in the essence of honey.  The Meadery was founded in 1997 in Arcata, California. In 2011,  the meadery relocated to a farm in Point Reyes Station (just across the 
Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco) to develop its botanical and agicultural programs.

Price:  $21.99
Where Bought:  The Jug Shop in San Francisco CA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing – they had a large selection of meads from this meadery, from just under $20 up to $50

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First Impression:  Very high carbonation.  Light caramel hue.  Smells of tart burnt honey.

Tasting Notes:  It was very difficult to determine the perceived sweetness level with the high carbonation & tartness and sweet flavor notes, but I settled on dry to semi-dry.  Light boded with a fluffy texture.  High tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of honey, caramel, wood, nut, citrus, and burnt/smoke.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate honey flavor and flavor intensity.  High complexity.  Low sessionability.

My Opinion:  I liked the flavor, but with the tartness, carbonation, and dryness, it was a bit much for me.  It mellowed out a bit the next day though (less carbonation and tartness).  My husband was a bigger fan.  This was super complex and interesting, and a memorable purchase, but I usually prefer the sweeter still meads.

Most Similar to:  The complexity of a fine mead (such as from Superstition Meadery in AZ), except methode champenoise (a labor intensive method for natural carbonation).

Closing Notes:  This is my first methode champenoise mead – all the others I’ve tried have been either still (usually sweeter and higher ABV) or force carbonated (usually drier and lower ABV, “session” style).

Have you tried mead?  What did you think?

Beehaven Watermelon Mead

Review of Beehaven’s Sparkling Watermelon Mead.  Yes, I know, mead isn’t cider, but I occasionally review other alternative beverages.  It is my first time trying any of their mead (made from fermenting honey & water).

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Variety:  Sparkling Watermelon Mead
Meadery:  Beehaven
Cidery Location:  Seattle WA
ABV:  5.5%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles (and draft)
Style:  American craft session mead with watermelon flavor

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Availability:  seasonally, June-August, in California, Idaho, and Washington

Description:  Juicy watermelon with the seeds thrown in as well, lime lends a nice big zesty bite, then basil is added for an herbal kick! A great summer option.

Meadery Description:  Welcome to BeeHaven. We make mead, the ancestor of all fermented drinks. Mead is made with honey and may be flavored with fruit or spices. Our small-batch flavorful meads are hand made with the finest natural ingredients, sparkling with a touch of sweetness, unfiltered and gluten-free with no added sulfites.  Served chilled, on ice, or in the Old European tradition–warmed and served as a toddy. And BeeHaven mead is low in alcohol making it very drinkable and refreshing–use it to create your own personal cocktail!

Price:  $5.99
Where Bought:  The Cave in Kirkland WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I’m a sucker for anything watermelon flavored.

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First Impression:  Light straw yellow hue with a hint of pink upon first pouring it and taking the photo, but the last 1/4 of the bottle I poured came out murky brown (but tasted pretty much the same), so I guess I should have shook it a bit before pouring.  Low carbonation.  Smells of candied watermelon.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet to sweet.  Medium to full bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  Notes of watermelon, honey, honeycomb, and hints of herbal & floral.  Quick finish.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  I liked it.  However, I was expecting it to be much drier, like the other session meads I’ve tried.  I liked it was more flavorful than the other session meads, but I found it a bit sweet to have the whole bottle, and at only 5.5%, that is something I’d usually do.  The watermelon flavor was spot-on.  However, at times it seemed to be competing with the honey flavor.

Most Similar to:  Nothing much.  I’ve never had watermelon mead, the other session meads I’ve tried (such as from Nectar Creek) have been much drier, and the sweeter meads I’ve tried have been much higher in ABV (such as from Superstition, Aesir, Eaglemount, and Moonlight).

Closing Notes:  This was nice as something different, but if I’m going to drink something sweet, I think I like the higher ABV beverages, so I drink less of it.

On the watermelon note, lately I’ve been really into Smirnoff’s Watermelon Spiked Seltzer.

Have you tried mead?  What did you think?