JARED’S NOTE: One of my favorite craft beer finds isn’t beer at all. The B. Nektar Meadery from produces a first-rate range of meads and ciders from its home in Ferndale, Mich., just outside of Detroit. The Wife and I happen to love their work and Al Dente is devoting this week to reviewing the meadery’s six year-round offerings.
Mead is thought to be the oldest beverage on earth, dating back to 20,000 to 40,000 years ago. African nomadic tribes, according to Mark Beran of honeywine maker Medovina, would come across the hives of feral bees in the wild. The upturned or broken hives would catch water and, in the heat, the honey would breakdown and ferment. The nomads, geniuses that they were, determined that the water trapped in the hives was far better than that in the local river or swamp. Further, it carried with it a little bit of a buzz.
When I think about mead, I always think of the terrible Saturday Night Live sketch “Lothar of the Hill People,” where Mike Myers would always summon a wench for a flagon of mead.
Like I said, not the most memorable of sketch characters.
The Craft Beer Movement™ has brought along with it craft cider makers and mead makers. Much of what the craft movements are driven by is history; recapturing the historical recipes, methods and such that people enjoyed long ago. Mead, for better or worse, was one of those drinks. And B. Nektar Meadery is a vessel to that long ago time.
Black Fang is not exactly what I was expecting when I thought mead. I was thinking about something more like a sweet, mulled wine, not a blend of berries and spices that is more reminiscent of sangria than Lothar’s drink of choice.
I was a little scared at first that this was going to have more of a Robitussin flavor than something enjoyable. As with most things in life, I was wrong. This was pleasantly sweet, with the honey wine at the foundation of the blackberries, clove and orange zest. I wouldn’t characterize it as refreshing but it’s not heavy and bloating either. It’s a pleasant sipping drink, not unlike a sangria, that doesn’t deter you from drinking two or three of them.
B. Nektar Meadery Zombie Killer
Container: 500mL bottle
Price: $6.99 Point of Purchase: Steamer’s Basin Trading Company, Bushnell’s Basin, N.Y.
To The Eye: Deep red with a little lacing that dissipates.
To The Nose: Rich berry aromas with a faint spice scent.
To The Palate: Sweet and tart from the berries and honey.
Aftertaste: Faint flavor of orange and clove arise here.
The Wife Factor: She approved. Not her favorite of the bunch but she liked it.
Boozy Factor: Moderate.
On a Scale of 1 to 10, with 10 as highest: 7.5