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?

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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?

Moonlight Meadery How Do You Like Them Apples

Review of Moonlight Meadery’s How Do You Like Them Apples.  I had previously tried this on draft, but they recently began offering this (and the “Little Apples” version) in cans.  I’ve tried a number of beverages from Moonlight Meadery:  How Do You Like Them Little Apples, How Do You Like Them Apples, Boys N Berries, Last Apple, and Crimes of Passion

Cider:  How Do You Like Them Apples
Cidery:  Moonlight Meadery
Cidery Location:  Londonderry NH
ABV:  13.5%
How Supplied:  12oz cans
Style:  American craft honey apple wine (apple cider with honey and brown sugar), rye whiskey barrel barrel aged

x2 x3 x4

Availability:  Semi wide release, in the U.S. in AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MT, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, TX, VA, VT, WA, WA D.C., and WI, and Australia, China, and Japan.  They also have an online store.

Cider Description:  A New England Hard Cider, made with the finest New Hampshire apples that were available to us, which we had fresh pressed into apple cider. This fresh cider was delivered the day it was pressed to our Meadery, where we blended it with just a touch of honey, and some brown sugar and let it ferment, then we let it age in freshly emptied Last Apple barrels, for a minimum of 6 months.

Cidery Description:  We are a world class meadery and cidery from Londonderry, New Hampshire that specializes in meads, the world’s oldest alcoholic beverage made from honey, as well as hard ciders.  The diversity of our offerings often leave people speechless, while the flavors have them asking for it from their local retailers.  Stop by and try the oldest fermented beverage to find out why “History never tasted so good”™.

They have been around since May 2010 and have a tasting room in Londonderry NH.

Price:  ~$6 / single can
Where Bought:   Special Brews in Lynnwood WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  my husband picked this up

moonlight

First Impression:  Medium amber hue.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells rich, syrupy sweet, apple-forward, of honey, whiskey, and oak.

Tasting Notes:  Sweet.  Medium to full bodied.  Low tartness, acidity, and tannins.  No bitterness, sourness, or funk.  Notes of concentrated apple, honey, orange, oak, whiskey, caramel, and brown sugar.  Moderate length finish, which is also the only time when the high ABV is noticeable.  Low oak/barrel influence.  Low to moderate whiskey influence.  High apple flavor.  Low sessionability.  High flavor intensity.  Moderate complexity.

My Opinion:  Amazing.  I really love the in-your-face rich complex flavor of this cider.  However, it is best suited as an after dinner sipper, splitting the can among at least 2 people.  By the end of the can I was a bit over it, as it was so sweet, even though I sipped on it throughout the evening.  This tasted good anywhere between ice cold and close to room temperature.

Most Similar to:  Ice cider and Moonlight Meadery Last Apple (although that one had more honey than apple flavor, in contrast to this one), which are both high ABV, have concentrated rich flavor notes, and are sweet

Side Note:  I like that they added a dry-sweet indicator on the can, but I think they were off on this one…it is way closer to the sweet end of the spectrum than the middle (although maybe it was an appropriate rating based on the beverages they make at Moonlight.

Closing Notes:  My husband also picked me up a couple cans of the “Little Apples” version of this cider, so stay tuned.

UPDATE:  Like the canned How Do You Like Them Little Apples, the can of this I opened a month or two later was starting to turn vinegary.

Have you tried Moonlight Meadery How Do You Like Them Apples?  What did you think?

Nectar Creek Waggle Wildflower Session Mead

Review of Nectar Creek’s Waggle, a Wildflower Session Mead (lower alcohol content). I’ve previously only tried their Honeycone hopped session mead, at Cider Summit last month (see here).  This obviously isn’t a cider, but sometimes I cover non-cider beverages.

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Mead:  Waggle, Wildflower Session Mead
Meadery:  Nectar Creek (Oregon Honey Products)
Meadery Location:  Corvallis OR
ABV:  6.2%
How Supplied:  500ml bottles
Style:  American craft mead (made from Oregon wildflower honey, water, yeast, and sulfites)

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Availability:  Year-round, at least in CA, GA, ID, MN, OR, TX, and WA (see their locator)

Mead Description:  The complex essence of Oregon wildflower honey is captured in this session mead with flavors and aromas of ripe fruit and fresh honeycomb.

Meadery Description:  Founded by two brothers native to Oregon’s Willamette Valley, Nectar Creek combines a passion for beekeeping, agriculture and brewing into delicious, sessionable meads.

They were founded in 2012 and have a tasting room in Corvallis Oregon (which is also home to 2 Towns cider).

Price:  $8.99
Where Bought:  Total Wine
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing

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First Impression:  Light straw yellow.  Low to moderate carbonation.  Smells mild, of honey with a hint of floral.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  Simple flavor, primarily of honey, with some floral and citrus.  Quick finish length.  Low to moderate honey flavor.  Low flavor intensity.  Low complexity.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  Tasty.  I liked it.  Simple and sessionable.  However, I prefer more flavor.  It tasted a bit watered down.

Most Similar to:  This was similar to their Honeycone, except Waggle was more honey forward and not hopped.  Nectar Creek is the only session mead maker on the market I’ve seen.

Closing Notes:   This was nice, but I think I prefer the higher ABV sweeter meads, which I’ve found to be more flavorful.  Check out some of my other mead reviews here.

Have you tried Nectar Creek Session Meads?  What did you think?

Moonlight Meadery Last Apple Cyser

Review of Moonlight Meadery’s Last Apple, a cyser (made from apples and honey).  I tried this previously on tap (see here), and have also previously tried some ciders, meads, and cysers from Moonlight Meadery (see here).

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Cider:  Last Apple
Cidery:  Moonlight Meadery
Cidery Location:  Londonderry New Hampshire
ABV:  16.0%
How Supplied:  375ml bottles (and kegs)
Style:  American craft cyser (made from apple juice and honey), barrel aged

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Availability:  AL, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KY, MD, ME, MI, MO, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, SC, TX, VA, WA, and WA D.C. in the USA (see here), plus Australia, China, Japan, and through their online shop (shipped to 36/50 states)

Cider Description:  We took the very last New Hampshire apples that were available to us and had them fresh pressed into apple cider. We then blended it with True Source Honey and let it ferment and age in freshly emptied Jim Beam barrels for over 6 months.  The end result is nothing short of heavenly. It is unlike any of the other honey apple meads that we make, that’s why we felt it deserved its own unique label design.  Take your time with this precious liquid and allow its complexities to dance along your palate.

Cidery Description:  We are a world class meadery and cidery from Londonderry, New Hampshire that specializes in meads, the world’s oldest alcoholic beverage made from honey, as well as hard ciders.  The diversity of our offerings often leave people speechless, while the flavors have them asking for it from their local retailers.  Stop by and try the oldest fermented beverage to find out why “History never tasted so good”™.

Price:  $26.99
Where Bought:  The Cave in Kirkland WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I tried this previously at the Schilling Cider House in Seattle WA and remembered loving it, and didn’t even know bottles were available (I picked this up awhile back and haven’t seen it since), so I decided to jump on it, despite the high price tag.

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First Impression:  Light to medium amber hue.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells boozy, of honey and caramel.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet.  Full bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of honey, sweet ripe apples, caramel, oak, and coffee.  Long warming finish.  Low apple influence.  Low barrel influence.  Moderate to high honey influence.  Very low sessionability.  Moderate complexity.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed this, but I think the batch I tried awhile back which was kegged was far superior; it didn’t have the coffee notes, had more oak flavor, was sweeter & fuller bodied, and was more complex.  In this price range, I think I’d prefer an ice cider from Eden (see here).  This reinforces how much I like cider bars, especially for high end ciders, as a sample can be had for $2-$5, vs. spending a good deal on an entire bottle.

Most Similar to:  This is more mead than cider, both in flavor and its high ABV.  It has more honey notes and a higher ABV than most cysers, such as the ones I’ve tried from Finnriver (Cyser Cider),  Eaglemount (Cyser), and Sea Cider (Birds and the Bees).  Its even higher ABV than the meads I’ve tried, such as Skyriver Solas (see here) and Superstition Honey Highway (see here), yet is smooth and easy to drink.

Closing Notes:   I look forward to continuing to try more ciders, meads, and cysers from Moonlight Meadery; they offer quite a large selection.

Have you tried Moonlight Meadery Last Apple?  What did you think?

Port Townsend Cider Route – Eaglemount Wine & Cider (& Mead)

As a continuation of my trip report on the Port Townsend cider route, this is post 3/4, on Eaglemount Wine & Cider (here is overview post 1 and here is post 2 on Alpenfire).  It was our second cidery of the day.  Eaglemount is unique in that they also offer red grape wine and mead (honey wine) in addition to cider.  All of these are made by the co-owner Trudy.  It was quite busy, but I got a chance to chat with her and introduce myself.  I learned that Drew Zimmerman from Red Barn Cider in Mt Vernon WA was an inspiration in their making cider, wine, and mead.  Red Barn Cider closed a few years ago due to his retirement.  Its not the first time I’ve heard of Drew Zimmerman…his Fire Barrel cider is now made by Finnriver (who also bought his cider apple orchard).

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Eaglemount is owned & operated by the husband & wife team of Jim & Trudy Davis, since 2006, although they had been making these beverages for 10 years prior to that.  They moved their tasting room just over a year ago from their home, orchard, & cidery/winery/meadery to a separate property (the Palindrome).  I learned they often start their ciders fermenting with wild yeast, then may add yeast as required.  There is an Airbnb on the new property, and plans for a new septic system and commercial kitchen so they can host events.  At their orchard they are planting 800 cider apple trees to add to the current 200.  They currently use cider apples in a mix with dessert apples in their Dry & Semi-Sweet Homestead ciders.

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One of the disadvantages of visiting during an event was they were offering less tastings for a higher cost (due to the chocolate pairings), and they were served in plastic cups (for some reason cider always tastes better from a glass to me).  I went through two sets of four tastes at Eaglemount.  My husband also sampled some of their red wines.

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The cider & mead tasting options that day were Homestead Dry cider, Homestead Semi-Sweet cider, Cyser, Quince cider, Rhubarb cider, Raspberry cider, Raspberry Ginger cider, Ginger cider, Apple mead, Cherry mead, Cranberry mead, Quince mead, Apple Dessert Wine, and Harvest Apple wine.  The last two were described as apple wines as they had higher ABVs.  I believe the only cider from their lineup that wasn’t offered was Boot Brawl, their hopped cider.  Bottles of cider & mead ranged from $14-$26 (mostly $14-$16), and most bottles are 750ml.  They also had 5 red wines they were tasting out of the 6 in their lineup.

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<this brand of environmentally friendly mini plastic cups is quite popular, also used at Finnriver and at several other cider events I’ve been to; I later learned that the county requires the two tasting rooms to use disposable drinkware as they have not yet met certain requirements such as water use and septic monitoring history–quite interesting>

Homestead Semi-Sweet Cider, 8% ABV – This is the sweeter version of their Homestead cider, also available in Dry.  Smells likes sweet apples with a touch of honey.  Slightly hazy.  Semi-sweet.  Moderate carbonation.  Medium bodied.  Low to moderate tannins.  Low tartness and acidity.  Yeasty, slightly rich, similar to English cider, but with a touch of honey notes.  Moderate finish length.  I liked this much better than their Homestead Dry that I tried at Cider Summit, as it didn’t have as much tartness or bitterness.

Rhubarb Cider, 8% ABV – Cider with organic rhubarb.  Smells tart and fruity.  Described as semi-sweet but I found it semi-dry.  Low carbonation.  Light bodied.  Low to moderate tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Fruity notes, although I’m not sure I could have identified them as rhubarb.  A touch alcohol-forward.  Long finish length.

Quince Mead, 9% ABV – Made from honey and organic quince from San Juan island.  Smells sweet, fruity, and of honey.  Semi-sweet.  Full bodied.  Low to moderate tartness and acidity.  A hint of bitterness.  Tropical notes.  Moderate finish length.  I prefer their Quince cider.

Apple Dessert Wine, 18% ABV – Apple brandy blended with apple juice (which would more commonly be called Pommeau).  Smells like apple brandy.  Semi-sweet.  Light bodied. Low tartness and acidity.  Oddly enough I picked up a hint of tannins.  Smooth.  Honey, caramel, and brown sugar notes.  Long warming boozy finish.

Raspberry Cider, 8% ABV – Cider (80%) with pure raspberry juice (20%).  Deep red hue.  Described as semi-sweet but I found it sweet.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  A hint of tannins.  Medium bodied.  Full flavored with lots of raspberry flavor.  Quick finish length.

Apple Mead, 10% ABV – Mead (made from honey from Sequim WA) with apples.  I’m not sure how this varies from their cyser (which is also made from honey and apples).  Smells mild, of apple juice and honey.  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Mild acidity.  Moderate tartness.  A hint of bitterness.  A hint of tannins (apple skin flavor).  Notes of apple, honey, and pollen.  From memory I think this has more apple flavor and a higher ABV than their Cyser, which I prefer.  Moderate finish length.

Cherry Mead, 10% ABV – Mead (made from honey from Sequim WA) with Organic cherries.  Deep red hue.  Sweet.  I only picked up cherry notes, not honey, and they tended towards medicinal.  However, my husband really enjoyed this one.  I think at a lower ABV I may have liked it better.  Alcohol-forward.  Medium bodied.  Long warming finish.

Harvest Apple Wine – This is a new release for them, described as a dry wine crafted from heirloom apples and wild yeast.  They had planned to blend it, but liked it on its own.  Semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low to moderate acidity and tartness.  Low tannins and bitterness.  Both apple and alcohol forward.  Long warming finish.

I picked up a bottle of Homestead Semi-Sweet (and my husband bought a bottle of red wine).  I think their Quince cider remains my favorite, followed by the Homestead Semi-Sweet and Cyser, which I find to be their most complex ciders.

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Stay tuned for post 4/4 on Finnriver!

Sky River Meadery Visit Tasting Notes

I know, mead isn’t cider, but I like it too.  In case you don’t know, mead is typically classified as a type of wine, made from honey, water, and yeast.  The weekend before last I visited the Sky River meadery in Woodinville Washington (their address is oddly enough in Redmond; they must be right on the border).  The meadery is at the top of a steep hill with a beautiful view of the Woodinville area, home to numerous (grape) wineries and a couple cideries (Locust and Elemental).  They share the building with two (grape) wineries, Icon Cellars and Pleasant Hill.  My husband and friend sampled wines at Pleasant Hill, which they were impressed with.

I’ve previously gone mead tasting at Æsir in Everett Washington and Superstition in Prescott Arizona.

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I went for the “Whole Hive” and sampled their entire current lineup of nine meads–yum!  All were still (no carbonation) and served in a wine glass at room temperature.

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Dry, 11% ABV:  Semi-dry, medium bodied, a bit acidic / tart / bitter, more floral than honey notes

Semi-Sweet, 11% ABV:  Semi-sweet, slightly fuller bodied, less tart & acidic, no bitterness, more honey than floral notes

Sweet, 11% ABV:  On the drier side of sweet, full bodied, very flavorful but still tastes light, honey and pollen notes

Ginger, 12% ABV:  On the drier side of sweet, very gingery! (although much more in the scent and aftertaste at the back of the throat than the flavor); I’m not a ginger fan so I didn’t have much

Blackberry, 12% ABV:  Semi-sweet, medium bodied, moderately tart & acidic, light to moderate blackberry flavor

Raspberry, 12% ABV:  Sweet, full bodied, mild tartness & acidity, full flavored with strong raspberry notes (they call it “jam in a glass”), no honey notes

Rose, 12% ABV:  Infused with real rose petals; semi-sweet, a touch bitter, more acidic & tart than the others, definitely floral

Brochet, 12.5% ABV:  This is the only mead where they use heat–over 9 days the honey is heated to around 110 degrees to caramelize it, before they make the mead with it; on the drier side of sweet, full bodied but still feels light, rich scent & flavor, caramel & brown sugar notes

 

Solas, 12% ABV:  This is their Dry Fly Distilling whiskey barrel aged mead; sweet verging on very sweet, smells of oak with a hint of smoke, full bodied, very smooth, full flavored, rich, lovely lucious flavor

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The Solas is aged in Dry Fly Distilling whiskey barrels like this which decorated the tasting room:

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I bought a bottle of Solace, which was my favorite (followed by the Brochet).  I thought it was pretty reasonable at $26, plus buying a bottle refunding my $15 tasting fee (so buying a $17 bottle would have been an even better deal).  Apparently Solas is their best seller at the tasting room, except in summer when the raspberry & blackberry meads sell well.

Sky River meads can be shipped to a number of states (see image below), direct to consumer, either through the meadery or VinoShipper.com.  They are sold in stores in AK, CT, ID, LA, MT, OR, PA, WA, Japan, and Sweden per this list.

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