The making of mead in Saskatchewan
CARON, SASK.—MEADS have been around for a long time, but there hasn’t been a craft meadery in Saskatchewan until Prairie Bee Meadery opened in June 2016.
The province has always been a leading producer of honey, which is combined with water to make mead — a liqueur also known as honey wine. There’s been several variations of mead produced by Saskatchewan breweries over the years, but never a dedicated meadery.
Owners Dennis and Vickie Derksen along with Crystal and Gerard Milburn started with a U Pick farm off the Trans-canada Highway in Caron, Sask., with cherry trees in 2012. The Derksens realized they needed pollen eaters for the trees and instantly got hooked on bees.
“The very first year we got the bees and we had fruit, we thought ‘gee, fruit and honey, why don’t we make mead?’” Vickie Derksen says.
After getting established with the U Pick and making meads on the side, the Derksens decided in 2015 they would attempt making small batches of mead and selling it commercially.
Prairie Bee Meadery has entered into the Drink Outside the Grape competition for
three straight years and won a medal each time.
Competition chair Richard Leahy says the purity of fruit and honey expression along with the balance of acidity with their wines is something he likes.
Dr. Joseph A. Fiola is a judge for the competition and liked how the business had a diversity of flavours. Prairie Bee Meadery will have 11 different kinds by mid-november and their haskap is a top seller.
“It wasn’t supposed to smell and taste like fermented honey when they did it and that’s what makes these a cut above the average meads that are out there,” he says.