by Jason Reindorp
Located in a space resembling both wine shop and chemistry lab, a visit to Portland, ME's Maine Mead Works to taste their handcrafted HoneyMaker wine is equal parts educational and delicious.
The HoneyMaker Mead uses 100% Maine wildflower honey and other locally produced ingredients, and then barrel aged with American oak. While many consider it a thick or syrupy drink, Maine Mead Works' variety has a remarkably delicate and refined consistency. Subtle differences occur between the eight flavors not only because of their seasonally-sourced main ingredients, but because the honey changes in taste depending on when it was harvested, with spring honey yielding a lighter flavor than darker, autumn honey.
Founded in 2007, HoneyMaker Mead is created by husband-and-wife duo Ben Alexander and Carly Cope along with award-winning South African mead-maker Dr. Garth Cambray and mead maker Nick Higgins, who have a joint patent for an ultra-filtration system that eliminates more pollen, yeasts and bacteria than traditional filtration methods, resulting in a cleaner and smoother taste. The team has worked hard to bring the ancient beverage back into favor, balancing the art and science of crafting mead with choosing locally raised honey and fruits, all while aiming to become carbon neutral.
At just around 12.5% alcohol content, HoneyMaker Mead makes for a delicious after dinner drink or mixer for fruity concoctions. Popular during medieval times, mead is also thought to promote virility and fertility, which helped coin the term "honeymoon" because newlyweds would drink it for the first month after marrying.