The brewing of one of the oldest alcoholic beverages known to man has become one of Prescott’s newest success stories. The U.S. Small Business Administration has named Jen and Jeff Herbert, the founders of Superstition Meadery, as Small Business Persons of the Year for 2019. Selected from over 500 entrants nationwide, the Herberts were the only winners from Arizona. Also earlier this year, Ratebeer, a widely recognized review site for brewers, rated Superstition Meadery the 35th best brewer in the world. Their Superstition Grand Cru Berry was named one of the world’s top rated meads.
The origins of mead, an alcoholic beverage made from honey and water, fermented with yeast, also known as honey-wine, are deep in prehistory. Many readers will recall the references to mead in early English literature and Norse mythology. In fact, evidence of honey-based fermented beverages are widespread throughout the ancient world. In recent years mead has been enjoying a resurgence in popularity and the Herberts have been on the cutting edge of this trend.
In 2012, they founded their apiary (a bee colony) in Skull Valley and produced 300 gallons of mead their first year. In 2014, they opened their current tasting room in the stylishly refurbished cellar of Bashford Courts, directly across the street from the Court House Square on Gurley Street. Entrance is through the Capitol Marketplace and an interior stairway and elevator in the rear.
They currently produce 6000 gallons of mead a year and have introduced over 150 varieties of craft meads and hard ciders. A recent visit offered a menu featuring flights of mead consisting of samplings of five or twelve varieties ranging in price from $12 to $24. The off flight menu (a flight is simply a selection of samples) includes over 40 craft meads available in 1 oz. tastings, or by the glass or bottle. Served in a wine glass, a 5 oz. glass of mead ranges in price from $7 to $10 for their premium offerings.
So what does mead taste like? If you like wine, especially sweet wine, you will like mead. The flights sampled were of light to medium body and ranged from sweet to semi-sweet, not unlike a good port wine. But the flavors were deep, rich, and varied, reflecting the huge variety of flavorings including fruits, grapes, spices, chocolate, coconut, ginger, almond, and hazelnut, to mention only a few. For example, two of the newest featured meads are the 2019 Pieseas, a sweet, key lime pie mead, and the 2019 La Dame Blanche, a semi-sweet mead featuring chardonnay, wildflower honey, and hops. The alcoholic content of the meads showcased is typically a little higher than wine, ranging from 13.5% to 15%.
In addition to mead, the menu offers a selection of tapas and desserts. Happy Hour is 4 to 6pm weekdays. Live music is featured on weekends. Offerings from the Superstition Meadery are available at fine food retailers throughout Arizona and by mail order in 37 states.