Quick: Do you know what mead is?
At our last ReefCheck, Stephanie Krieger mentioned her first bottling would take place in late July.
I let the word float in my mind. Somewhere in the deep recesses, I’d heard the word "mead" before. Maybe it had to do with medieval times. That grog that friars drank, wasn’t that it?
“What is mead?” I asked Stephanie.
“Honey wine,” she said. “Some sources say it was the first alcoholic beverage, dating back to 1,700 to 1,000 B.C.”
A little internet research later, and I discovered mead is a fermented beverage made from honey. Through the years, honey wine evolved to include fruit and other “fermentables.” Stephanie’s first bottled batch for retail sale is made with guava and pineapple. After making mead at home for nine years, Stephanie opened Nani Moon Mead earlier this spring. She calls it the only “meadery” in all Hawai’i.
What’s more, she says that an ancient European tradition involved newlyweds. It was custom to supply the new couple with enough mead to last one complete moon cycle, because it was believed that mead promoted healing, prosperity and fertility. From this practice, some believe, the word “honeymoon” originated.
A little more internet research, and I discovered the first Saturday of August is celebrated around the world as “Mead Day.” Just an excuse to drink mead, if you ask me, and that’s all I needed to visit Stephanie’s shop in Kapa’a on Kaua’i’s east side this past weekend.
On walking inside, the operation surprised me. A series of large tanks lined the back wall, behind a glass wall. A tasting bar lined a side wall. Pendant lighting and a deep lavender-painted wall created a bit of a mystical feel. (And this was before I sampled the mead.)
I really had no expectations on what mead would taste like. Stephanie made it clear mead landed on the dry side of palate. She suggested that I would taste the fruits first, then the honey on the back end. Everything she said was completely accurate.
When I left, I tucked my Pineapple Guava Sunset Mead--$18 per bottle--under my arm and decided to spend the next full moon--this Wednesday--sitting on the beach sipping mead. After all, Stephanie says mead is best enjoyed under the moonlight.