Nectar of the Gods
Mead is a honey-based wine, staking claim as the oldest alcoholic beverage in history. Sometimes referred to as honey-wine, the beverage is traditionally created by fermenting honey, water and yeast. During the Viking era, mead was considered a luxurious libation, as honey was strictly reserved for the rich due to the difficult nature of obtaining it: Honey seekers had to navigate past bees to retrieve it without all the protective wear we have today. Honey was even thought to be an aphrodisiac and was given to newlyweds to promote children-making, hence the term “honeymoon.”
Despite its honey base, not all meads are sweet; some are dry, while others can be spicy or semi-sweet. This variation in flavor comes from the different fruits, spices, grains, or hops that can be added during the fermentation process. In just six years, Moonlight Meadery, LLC, in Londonderry, New Hampshire has produced over 100 flavors of the beverage, including barrel-aged meads.
Honey is a truly a magical product and even more versatile than grapes, which is why the meadery is able to offer such a plethora of flavors. They use two different kinds of honey: wild flower and orange blossom.
Because honey doesn’t oxidize quickly like wine, it can stay fresh for a thousand years, never going bad. Some companies sell honey that is not pure and is cut with corn syrup, even though this is illegal, making it safer to buy in the U.S. (The U.S. isn’t able to test all of the imported honey.) Moonlight uses natural, “true source certified” honey from Georgia.
The idea for Moonlight Meadery began in 1995, when founder and head mead maker, Michael Fairbrother, tried a cyser (mead combined with hard cider) for the first time. He was already involved in the home brewing group called “Brew free or die” and realized that while all of his friends were making beer, there was an untapped market for mead. He made a batch at one of the gatherings and the women and wives who were there crowded around to try it. Rather than competing with all of these other breweries, he realized no one was really focusing on mead and not only was it absolutely delicious but there was a bigger margin for the product. The meadery even has a romantic theme, with bottles named “Destiny,” “Smolder,” and “Red Dress.”
At the time, Fairbrother was a CEO of a software company, but quickly realized his passion could actually become his career, as he was truly talented in making mead. He won the beer competition “Best of Show” with a mead in 2007, which officially put him and his mead on the map. The meadery only had 72 brew holders to start and Londonderry only gave them a permit to sell 400 gallons a year. They sold out of those 400 gallons in just three weeks. Fairbrother quickly got a spot on N.H. Chronicle and had 400 people show up the following weekend. He was getting calls from distributors in California, while he still only had 60 gallon holders. Luckily, they have been able to expand in size and have plenty of fermenters and space. In just the last year, Moonlight’s sales have increased by fifty percent. You can taste the passion and the talent in one sip—what are you waiting for?