Nectar Creek Top Bar Coffee Mead

Review of not a cider, but a mead, Nectar Creek Top Bar (coffee).  Nectar Creek closed in October 2019, but 2 Towns Ciderhouse has started making their meads.  It is my first time trying this, but I’ve had Nectar Creek’s Honeycone, Waggle, and Nectarade.

Photo Jul 25, 5 18 19 PM

>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by 2 Towns.  Although I will take care to treat it the same as any other review, there is always the potential for bias as I received it for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my review cue.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or mead reviewed here?  Contact me.<<

Mead:  Top Bar
Meadery:  Nectar Creek
Location:  Corvallis OR
ABV:  8.0%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style: American craft mead (made from water & honey), with coffee and apple brandy

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Availability:  2 Towns’ taproomlocal delivery in Corvallis OR, and online sales, until a full roll out in September with 6 packs of cans

Mead Description:  Locally roasted coffee blended with unfiltered honey makes for a mead that is rich, complex, and sessionable all at the same time.

Meadery Description:  Founded in 2012, Nectar Creek makes meads using unfiltered honey. Their offerings include a wide variety of lightly carbonated meads. As one of the leaders of the resurgence of the mead category, Nectar Creek’s products have been helping bring this age-old beverage into the mainstream.

Price:  n/a (retails for ~ $7-8 / bottle)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  it showed up

Photo Jul 25, 5 20 23 PM

First Impression:  Light caramel hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells of sweet coffee.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Light to medium bodied.  Low tartness, acidity, and bitterness.  No tannins, sourness, or funk.  Notes of mainly coffee with a hint of honey.  Long bitter coffee finish.  High coffee flavor.  Moderate flavor intensity and sessionability.  Low complexity and honey flavor.

My Opinion:  I wasn’t into this, but mainly as I’m not big on coffee-flavored stuff (like candy or ice cream), or even coffee (I go for tea, a latte, or Frappuccino).  My husband liked it though.  If you also really like coffee, you’ll probably like this.

Most Similar to:  The only coffee-flavored alcohol I’ve had is a cider from Schilling, Grumpy Bear, on Nitro tap, for which the coffee flavor wasn’t quite so strong.  An online search tells me that a coffee flavored mead had been done elsewhere, especially in the homebrew world (seems weird to use the word “brew” for mead or cider as heat isn’t involved like it is for beer, but that term still seems synonymous to any type of home alcohol-making).

Closing Notes:  I think their initial re-release offerings of citrus and coffee were odd choices for mead flavors, but maybe its just me.

Have you tried Nectar Creek mead?  What did you think?

Nectar Creek Nectarade Lemon Lime

Review of not a cider, but a mead, Nectar Creek Nectarade (Lemon Lime).  Nectar Creek closed in October 2019, but 2 Towns Ciderhouse has started making their meads.  It is my first time trying this, but I’ve had Nectar Creek’s Honeycone and Waggle.

Photo Jul 17, 6 47 54 PM

>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by 2 Towns.  Although I will take care to treat it the same as any other review, there is always the potential for bias as I received it for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my review cue.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or mead reviewed here?  Contact me.<<

Mead:  Nectarade
Meadery:  Nectar Creek
Location:  Corvallis OR
ABV:  8.0%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style: American craft mead (made from water & honey), with lemon & lime juice and apple brandy

Photo Jul 17, 6 48 04 PM Photo Jul 17, 6 48 18 PM

Availability:  2 Towns’ taproom, local delivery in Corvallis OR, and online sales, until a full roll out in September with 6 packs of cans

Mead Description:  Freshly squeezed lemon and lime juice blended with unfiltered honey to make a mead that is tart and electrifying.

Meadery Description:  Founded in 2012, Nectar Creek makes meads using unfiltered honey. Their offerings include a wide variety of lightly carbonated meads. As one of the leaders of the resurgence of the mead category, Nectar Creek’s products have been helping bring this age-old beverage into the mainstream.

Price:  n/a (retails for ~ $7-8 / bottle)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  it showed up

Photo Jul 17, 6 49 49 PM

First Impression:  Medium straw yellow hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells of honey, citrus, and something else I couldn’t figure out (maybe from the apple brandy, which appeared to have been added to increase the ABV up to the new 8.0%?).

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Light to medium bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness.  No tannins, sourness, or funk.  Notes of lemon, lime, and honey.  Moderate length tart finish with an aftertaste which reminded me of artificial sweeteners.  Low honey flavor and complexity.  Moderate flavor intensity.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  I wasn’t into this one, and neither was my husband.  The citrus flavor just didn’t seem to work in a mead, and the artificial taste just made it worse.  I did however like the flavor intensity and ABV (8.0%), both of which are higher than many of the newer mead options (often canned and referred to as “session” meads).  Lemon-Lime and Coffee seem like interesting choices for initial re-releases.

Most Similar to:  Nothing I’ve had.  The meads I’ve tried have been plain, or with flavors like vanilla or berry, not citrus.

Closing Notes:  This didn’t seem up to 2 Towns’ usual high quality.  I actually can’t remember ever not liking anything from them, although some I enjoy much more than others.  I’m guessing this was an initial batch, and they will work out the kinks in the next couple months before their larger release.

Have you tried Nectar Creek mead?  What did you think?

Superstition Meadery Hawaiian Honeymoon

Diverging a bit from cider, this is a review of Superstition Meadery’s Hawaiian Honeymoon, a pineapple-vanilla mead.  Mead is made by fermenting watered down honey.  It is my first time trying this one, but I sampled a number of Superstition’s varieties when I visited their tasting room (see here).

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Mead:  Hawaiian Honeymoon
Meadery:  Superstition Meadery
Location:  Prescott AZ
ABV:  13.5%
How Supplied:  375ml corked bottles
Style:  American craft mead (honey wine), with pineapple & vanilla added

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Availability:  limited; see here, plus they have online sales

Mead Description:  Hawaiian Honeymoon is a recent Superstition creation which has become an instant staff favorite. Big juicy Tahitian vanilla beans and pineapple, aged on toasted American oak staves, join forces with Arizona honey in this delicious craft beverage that will take you on vacation.

Meadery Description:  We have introduced over 200 unique meads and hard ciders since 2012.
Our products range from dry to sweet, still to sparkling, and easy drinking to the most flavorful beverage you have ever imagined.

Price:  ~ $24
Where Bought:  unknown
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  my husband got me this (and 1 other Superstition mead) for Christmas

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First Impression:  Light yellow hue.  No carbonation.  Smells of pineapple and honey.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Light to medium bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  Low bitterness.  No tannins, funk, or sourness.  Notes of pineapple, honey, lemon, vanilla, and stone fruit.  Long warm finish, due to the high ABV.  Moderate honey flavor.  High flavor intensity and complexity.  Low sessionability.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed it.  It was more pineapple than honey forward, and the vanilla was barely perceptible.  I see mead as a nice option in between cider and wine, and although there are more sessionable (low ABV) mead options, which often tend drier, I usually prefer the more traditional sweeter higher-ABV meads, which tend to be full-flavored.

Most Similar to:  High-ABV pineapple cider, or pineapple wine, with a hint of honey.

Closing Notes:  Superstition’s meads are at the higher end of the price spectrum, but they are also high quality.

Have you tried mead?  What did you think?

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?