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. This review was originally published at Al Dente on February 4, 2015
So, a couple of years ago I was invited to the VIP opening of Syracuse’s World of Beer at Destiny USA. My friend Mike served as my plus one for the evening, and we worked did our best to sample the draught fare that evening. One of our takeaways from that evening was a mead called Zombie Killer, a cherry and honey concoction. I didn’t know the brewer’s name and sort of forgot about it after a few days.
But, every time I went to Brilbeck’s or The Party Source to stock up on beers, I would find myself reminded that I wanted the Zombie Killer again. I finally found the name of the meadery — B. Nektar and The In-Laws found one bottle of Zombie Killer in South Carolina. I had to make it stretch, not knowing when I would enjoy it again.
Fast forward to last summer. I’m in the Byrne Dairy on Old Liverpool Road in Liverpool, browsing the bomber selection, when I run across the khaki-colored Zombie Killer label. I loaded up and declared victory. Since then, two other labels have made their way into Upstate stores. There was Slice of Life, a lemon-ginger cider, and The Dude’s Rug.
The Dude’s Rug, an homage to The Big Lebowski, is what happens when you take a mildly sweet hard apple cider and mix it with the spices found in chai tea. Think about the mulled cider some people drink each fall. Make it ice cold and add alcohol to it. The cider characteristics are few, primarily color and a sweet apple aftertaste. Otherwise, this drink is all spice.
And, it’s great.
B. Nektar is bringing mead, cysers and ciders into a space dominated by Woodchuck, imported labels and Samuel Adams’ side project. It doesn’t just infuse ciders with cherry or raspberry. No. B. Nektar takes lemon and marries it with ginger, and uses chai tea spices like cardamom, cinnamon and clove to create something with more spice than sweet.
This family-owned meadery from Michigan has something good on its hands. I’m just glad I remembered their name.
B. Nektar Meadery The Dude’s Rug
Style: Hard cider (spiced)
Container: 550mL bottle
Price: $5.49 Point of Purchase: The Party Source, Syracuse, N.Y.
To The Eye: Orange-brown, cloudy with absolutely no head or visible carbonation.
To The Nose: Spicy. Big cinnamon nose with hints of fruit.
To The Palate: Barely any carbonation. All of the recognizable chai tea flavors — cardamom, cinnamon, clove and tea — are present, though ginger seems to stand out most. It’s sweeter than you may expect, but not syrupy sweet.
Aftertaste: Sweet, with a cinnamon-apple finish.
The Wife Factor: Her favorite of the B. Nektar line.
Boozy Factor: Not a factor at all.
On a Scale of 1 to 10, with 10 as highest: 8.5