Amissville joins ex­plod­ing U.S. mead scene

Meads are fastest grow­ing seg­ment of U.S. al­co­hol bev­er­age mar­ket

Rappahannock News - - COUNTRYSIDE - By John Mc­caslin Rap­pa­han­nock News staff

In Celtic mythol­ogy, a river of mead flows through par­adise. In Rap­pa­han­nock County, it flows through Amissville.

And the pos­i­tive re­views are pour­ing in.

Hin­son Ford Cider & Mead (379 Hin­son Ford Road, just min­utes off High­way 211) opened this past au­tumn as the only full-pro­duc­tion mead­ery in Rap­pa­han­nock County de­voted to the an­cient “nec­tar of the gods,” thought to have de­scended from the heav­ens as a honey-rich dew.

Whereas the an­cient Greeks called meads “am­brosia,” Hin­son Ford sim­ply la­bels theirs Elder­berry Mead, Gold­en­rod Mead, Straw­berry Mead, and Dark

Skies Bo­chet. The mead­ery’s equally pop­u­lar hard ciders con­sist of Bre­hon Blend, Cider­house Blend, and the new­est fla­vor Hops in the House.

All are of­fered by the bot­tle or case, al­beit no visit to the mead­ery is com­plete with­out grab­bing a cozy ta­ble in Hin­son Ford’s tap­room and sam­pling the var­i­ous fla­vors on draft while en­joy­ing the con­ver­sa­tion around you or per­haps a game of backgam­mon.

“We are sort of pitch­ing this as an al­ter­na­tive to wine and beer, specif­i­cally that it is lower in al­co­hol, doesn’t have the same load of car­bo­hy­drates in it, and the fla­vors are just re­ally light and crisp — both the ciders and the meads,” says mead-maker Den­nis Kelly.

“We do have one tra­di­tional mead that is def­i­nitely our strong­est prod­uct, it has some resid­ual sweet­ness to it, and it’s dis­tilled. Peo­ple liken it to a tawny port dessert wine.”

Hin­son Ford’s meads — made by fer­ment­ing honey with water and var­i­ous fruits, spices and hops — are still or petil­lant (slightly sparkling), and range from semi-sweet to dry. Cider choices are dry, dry oaked and hopped dry.

Kelly and his busi­ness part­ner (and neigh­bor) David Shiff point out that Rap­pa­han­nock has a long and sto­ried his­tory of fine hard ciders that were crafted from lo­cal ap­ples, and at

Hin­son Ford they’ve joined meads into the mix.

And talk about launch­ing at a per­fect time.

The mead­maker ex­plains that while craft beer growth has lev­eled off in re­cent years — and mass-mar­ket beers, at the same time, are on the de­cline — hard cider has come back from the brink of ex­tinc­tion in the United States.

Meads, mean­while, are said to be the fastest grow­ing seg­ment of the al­co­hol bev­er­age mar­ket in the U.S. (which would ex­plain why Bud Light has taken to bash­ing meads in their lat­est TV com­mer­cials).

Vis­i­tors will like find Kelly’s wife, Mary, be­hind the bar. Be­sides her ed­u­ca­tional pour­ing, she is the strate­gic plan­ner of the mead­ery, and is also re­spon­si­ble for the bev­er­ages’ cool lo­gos and brand­ing, graphic de­sign, and cor­po­rate iden­tity.

“She de­signed all our la­bels and con­trib­utes her decades of ex­pe­ri­ence as a home brewer and cider maker to our pro­duc­tion ef­forts and prod­uct lineup,” Kelly boasts of Mary.

“If you have had mead be­fore, for­get what you know; if you haven’t had mead be­fore, leave your ex­pec­ta­tions at the door,” says Kelly, “they’re like noth­ing you’ve tasted.”

Hin­son Ford Cider & Mead, Rap­pa­han­nock County's only mead­ery, is just min­utes from High­way 211 in Amissville. Be­sides meads, Hin­son Ford of­fers a fla­vor­ful se­lec­tion of hard ciders.

Hin­son Ford mead­mak­ers David Shiff and Den­nis Kelly.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.