Our guest today on Brew Ha Ha is Heidrun Meadery head meadmaker Josh McCarthy. The Heidrun is the name of a mythical viking goat. Mead is the oldest alcohol in the world, brewed with honey.
Heidrun takes the still fermented mead and then turns it into a sparkling beverage using the traditional champagne method. They are the only meadery that we know of so far that does champagne mead.
Honey is very sweet, Josh explains. They add water to the honey to dilute it to the sugar proportion desired, and they also remove other parts like wax. Then they chill it down and handle it like wine. The bubbles are done the same way as in traditional champagne. The only difference is the ingredient they start with.
The mead is able to carry flavors of the forage that the bees covered, so you can taste radish blossom, carrot blossom and more in the mead. They do brut naturel, so they are bone dry.
Hawaiian Christmas Berry
They also have an estate at Point Reyes Station, and they collect honey there. They also bring in honeys from around the world. This honey comes from Hawaii. Josh points out that whatever flavors come from the honey are the only flavors in the finished product. They never add any other flavors, just the honey itself. Their small community of bees includes feral hives and domestic hives. They don’t like yellowjackets which come and destroy the hive. Herlinda reminds us, don’t use Round-Up which takes out the good bugs too. Honey, water and yeast make mead. Josh explains, they start like beer but treat it like wine.
They use the same fermenting yeast that champagne producers use. It does not impart any of its own flavor. They ferment about 10 days for the wine to get through fermentation. Then they do a natural settling process, four to six or eight weeks, depending on the honey. Each variety is very different. Their tasting room is located in a greenhouse and it is a nice visit. There are many flowering plants that are for the bees, and you can taste the garden in your glass.
Every wine they make is 12.5% ABV, which is the same as sparkling wine.