With some regularity, my husband arrives home to find me enjoying a glass of wine. Chalk it up to work stress if you like (some days I do), or it could just be because people everywhere have enjoyed fermented beverages for a long, long time – and I’m no exception. While the atmosphere, decor, and dress may have changed over the centuries, people like to gather together and enjoy food, drink, and entertainment. Today we indulge in a variety of settings – a casual beer with friends at the local watering hole, or a wine tasting party at someone’s home, or checking out the hot new martini bar (although in the interest of transparency, that won’t be me – not a martini gal, I’ve discovered). I’d encourage you all to add a mead tasting to your list of must-try alcoholic experiences.
In fact, mead is considered the ancestor of all modern fermented drinks. Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, to see the popularity of modern day mead growing, with meaderies following rapidly in the footsteps of wineries and breweries to take advantage of the rising interest in their product and the art and science behind it.
Last year, I wrote about Far Friar’s Meadery, located in Newcastle, Maine, and this year during my visit to Maine, I had the opportunity to visit Maine Mead Works for the first time. Located on Washington Ave in Portland, it’s easily accessible for both tourists and locals. Founded in 2007 by owners Ben Alexander and Carly Cope, Maine Mead Works uses Maine ingredients (as much as possible) and also leverages good ol’ Mainah wisdom – that handcrafted is better than mass-produced, and quality is better than quantity (hence their small batch approach).
We had the opportunity to try a large number of traditional and flavored meads during our visit, as well as a few sparkling versions. Maine Mead Works emphasizes crafting a modern mead that is dry, crisp, and has a balanced finish. Like Fat Friar’s mead, the more traditional dry and semi-sweet meads carried strong honey notes on the nose. As I’ve become more familiar with mead, I find I can also appreciate it more. I enjoyed the dry mead, but I liked the flavored varieties best of all. From my perspective, honey mead creates an ideal base from which to add flavors like lavender, strawberry, and cranberry, as Maine Mead does. I could easily envision a summer afternoon on the deck, enjoying a chilled glass of the strawberry or lavender mead, while cranberry was clearly a holiday season indulgence.
In conclusion, a visit to Maine Mead Works is highly recommended. While we weren’t able to stay for the facility tour, I’m sure that would be well-worth experiencing as well. You can also check out their cocktail recipes page for fun ways to mix with mead.
Happy holidays, all!