Did you know, right here in Boulder, Redstone Meadery is the largest craft mead producer in the United States? They were also the first to create a line of draft mead in kegs.
Recently, they’ve announced another innovation with three of their flavors in their carbonated “Nectar” line – they are now available in cans (16.9 ounce). Thought to be one of the first alcoholic beverages ever created, it’s a beverage that is often misunderstood, but Redstone is out to change that misnomer. “Three flavors — Black Raspberry Nectar, the apricot-flavored Sunshine Nectar, and Nectar of the Hops — will be available nationally in 500ml cans. Two other flavors in the Nectar line, Boysenberry Nectar and Mango Nectar, are available in 750ml bottles in Colorado as a limited release. All have an alcohol content of 8% by volume.”
When you think of a crisp, refreshing, delicious beverage that just screams to be consumed during hot summer days, do you think of mead? If not, maybe you should open up your mind and try an well-chilled Sunshine Nectar from Redstone Meadery.
Mead’s mythical properties have rarely met up with it’s overly sweet, viscous reputation earned from sampling home brewed iterations of the nectar from our friends and family. I know my first experience with mead was when I was underaged, at my friend’s house, from a glass jar sitting in his windowsill. It was syrupy in its sweetness and consistency and lacked the alcoholic potency to give it a worthwhile kick.
What you’ve got from Redstone Meadery is a well balance, lightly carbonated beverage with just enough sweetness to be construed with an Izzee drink. You’d absolutely never guess that what you’re drinking is an advertised 8% abv. It’s really got the qualities of a sub 5% abv wine cooler of sorts without any of the sickly sweet, teeth coating sugar you’re used to.
There are several flavors of mead available, so you can certainly find a Redstone Mead that works for your taste buds. I loved the regular brew made from wildflower and clover honey, and the black raspberry flavor was equally delicious with a fruity and acidic kick. Plus, imagine how cool you’ll sound inviting your friends over for a tall glass of mead and they actually accept? You’ll be the coolest kid on the block, all over again.
I was also lucky enough to connect with Dave Myers, Founder and Owner of Redstone Meadery to learn more about their canned mead and the history of his business.
Q: Redstone Meadery has been open and running for 12 years – tell me a little bit about the early days and your fondness of bringing mead to the masses. Has it been a challenge and have people’s breadth of knowledge around mead evolved?
Trying to sell mead 12 years ago was a very big challenge, now it’s a big challenge. But as the craft movement has built up steam, all categories of craft beverages, from ciders to beers to mead, have become more widely known. Mead is still a beverage, though, that most people haven’t heard about yet. Or they find out that mead is honey wine, and assume it must be a thick, sweet dessert wine. Our challenge is to educate people about what mead can be. Mead is a wide ranging beverage. It can be drier or sweeter, sparkling or still, higher in alcohol or lower in alcohol. It can be just honey and just like different grapes make different grape wine different honey makes different honey wine or you can add fruit, spices, flower pedals, oak or anything else depending on the end flavor profiles that you desire.
I began as a home brewer in the late 1980s, and started making mead in the early 1990s. In the old days, I’d ask people if they wanted to try mead, and a response I’d get often was “No, I’m a vegetarian” assuming I was saying ‘meat’. When I started the company in 2001 and began calling restaurants in the area about our mead, they’d often assume I was saying the same thing, and connect me to the chef, not the bar manager. Now mead has evolved as a category, and awareness has grown considerably over the past 12 years.
Q: Can you talk a little about your natural philosophy practices at Redstone from how you don’t add sulfates to the way you don’t cork?
Our all-natural philosophy is that our meads have no sulfites added, and we use all real ingredients like real fruits, spices and no artificial additives. Also, all of our meads are100% gluten-free. As far as the swing-top resealable closures on our bottles, the reason we do that is two-fold; it’s a superior way to seal our bottles, and consumers can reseal the unfinished portions and seal it just as well at home as we do here in our factory.
Q: I’m intrigued to see mead in cans and you’re definitely innovating in this space. Does anyone else sell their mead in cans? Could you tell us more about the choice to can three of your flavors in the nectar line?
It’s a project I’ve been working on and off again for a few years. Because mead is regulated as a wine, we can only sell it in certain package sizes, such as 187ml, 375ml, 500ml, 750ml, and higher. Our biggest challenge was finding a quality can at those volumes, and we finally found one in England, a 500ml, 16.9 ounce aluminum can.
Our main reason for canning our mead is that it allows people to take our product to many places that you can’t take glass, like fishing, rafting, pools, music venues, and backpacking. Also, the weight of the cans is much less, and we’ve seen a lot of tourists in our tasting room choose cans because they pack in checked baggage so much easier. And because they’re less expensive the price per ounce is lower for the cans. We pass the savings along 100% to the customer.
We chose to put the Nectar meads in cans because they’re carbonated and they have the lowest alcohol content at 8%, compared to our other products which have 12%. So, they’re pretty close in alcohol content to what you’d find with a high-alcohol craft beer or cider. And, finally, the carbonated Nectar mead just tastes amazing coming out of a can for some reason. There is at least one other meadery out there putting their product in cans, but we’re certainly one of the first, and we’re the most widely available mead in cans.
Q: If someone is new to the taste of mead, what specific line would you direct them to at Redstone? Any advice on tasting and/or pairing it?
I usually have people try our Black Raspberry Nectar. It’s one of our flagship mead and is our best seller. In our Mountain Honey Wine line, which is not carbonated and 12% alcohol, I usually have people first try our Traditional Mountain Honey Wine, which is just honey, water and yeast, and then branch out from there with different flavors.
Many people think of mead as a dessert wine, but most of our meads are really more for appetizers and dinners, I think. Our Traditional is great with spicy food dishes and fish dishes. Our Juniper Mountain Honey Wine is great with sushi, seared fish, and cured or salty meats like prosciutto. Black Raspberry Nectar goes well with heartier dishes and appetizers such as ribs, steak, and pates. We have information about food and mead pairing on our website and in our tasting room. Mead has a wide ranging ability to pair with many foods, cocktails or is just wonderful on its own.
Q: Anything else we should expect to be on the look out for at Redstone? Any events?
We’re going to have our 7th (or is it 8th) annual mead dinner at 4580 Restaurant in Boulder on October 15, which is a five course meal paired with seven meads.
Also, we will be releasing our seasonal Winter Solstice Mead, Vanilla Beans and Cinnamon Sticks Mountain Honey Wine on October 1st. We make this mead one day per year, on December 21st (Winter Solstice) for release for the holidays.
Learn More: www.redstonemeadery.com