The mak­ing of mead in Saskatchewan

StarMetro Vancouver - - DAILY LIFE - Ryan Mckenna A look at how Prairie Bee Mead­ery op­er­ates at thes­tar.com/food

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.

MICHAEL BELL/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

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