Mead is an alcoholic beverage that is produced by fermenting a solution of honey and water. Some people believe that it is the world's oldest alcoholic beverage. It is also the root of the word honeymoon, as newly married couples would drink mead for a month to bring fertility and happiness (and hang-overs).
As part of the search to find the honey we needed, we decided it would be fitting (and a pretty cool backstory) if we sourced half the honey from Rhode Island and the other half from here in Virginia - a true Mason Dixon Line Mead. Seeing how honey is flavored strongly by the raw materials the bees have to work with, the idea was to make a mead from honey from Rhode Island and from Virginia. The mead could highlight some of the differences between our respective residences. For the Rhode Island contribution, Jeff talked to a homebrew buddy in RI who is also an beekeeper with one or two hives. After discussing the project, Jeff's friend agreed to contribute several pounds of Rhode Island honey (thanks Bil!).
The Rhode Island honey was a wild flower honey because it did not come from one particular source of flowers, but from whatever plants grew in the region near the hives. The honey was unfiltered, giving it a cloudy appearance. Its aroma was fascinating and complex with an amazing floral bouquet with hints of lavender and some herbs like mint. The Rhode Island honey's flavor was equally complex, featuring several herbal flavors, including cinnamon and mint.
For the Virginia contribution, I was able to find a clover honey that is packaged nearby in Berryville, Virginia. The clover honey was a bit more of a 'commercial' product, as it was filtered and clearly labeled. It smelled and tasted much as one would expect from a store-bought honey, which is to say it was good, but uncomplex. The honey had a warming flavor, but mostly it was just sweet. I was amazed at how different the two honeys were when compared side-to-side. It will be interesting to see what flavors and aromas come through in the final mead.
12/18/10 - S.G. 1.000. Color is crystal clear straw. Nose has a bit of an herbal quality and alcohol. Flavor and nose have a lot of the RI honey character, which is herbal and a bit minty. Flavor also has some hot alcohol.
4/18/11 - S.G. 0.999. Bottled. Mead is crystal clear and the same pale straw color. Aroma has a faint herbal character, which is slightly medicinal. Flavor has a honey back flavor, with a medicinal front end.
6/27/11 - Mason Dixon Line Mead featured in a homemade cheese and homemade beer/mead pairing, which is captured here.
4/8/13 - Samples of the Mason Dixon Line Mead were entered into the 2013 Ocean State Homebrew Competition where the mead placed 1st in the Traditional Mead category (although there were only two entries in the category).
4/11/13 - Tasting notes collected on the blog here.