Mead & Hard Cider: Fall Favorite Drinks in the D

By: Toni Cunningham | October 20, 2014
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With so many locally brewed fall beers on tap, it comes as no surprise that many of us are drinking local spirits this season. If you’ve been rotating between Jaw Jacker and Ichabod each time you go out to the bar, now is the time to add something else into the rotation when you imbibe: craft ciders and/or mead.

What the heck is mead, you may ask? Well, in case you’re unfamiliar, allow me to explain. Mead is essentially a honey wine, and just like regular wine, it can be dry, sweet, semi-sweet, sparkling, etc. Mead typically has an alcoholic content of 8 percent ABV or higher.

Some local meaderies in the Metro Detroit area include:

Schramm’s Mead, 327 W. 9 Mile Rd., Ferndale, grows its own cherries, apples, currants and berries to create the most outstanding mead around. There is plenty of variety when it comes to mead here, including The Statement (made with Traverse City Balaton cherries), Blackberry Sec (dry and perfect for beginners) and Apple (packed with over 30 varieties of apples).

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Head to the meadery, where you can try a glass, flight or craft cocktail. Schramm on the Beach (raspberry mead with peach puree and cranberry juice), Schmimosa (raspberry or ginger mead with orange juice) and The Orchard (raspberry mead with tart apple cinnamon and cranberry juice) are all great choices.

Should you need a snack to accompany your mead, there are small plate items and sandwiches available to order, including a North Sea Cheese Platter and Bruschetta. Schramm’s Mead can be found in plenty of southeast Michigan retail stores as well.

B. Nektar Meadery, 1481 Wordsworth St. Ferndale, is right around the corner if you’d like to make a mead tour out of the experience, mead hopping if you will. B. Nektar opened just over six years ago, and has been making award winning mead ever since. It’s likely you’ve at least seen Zombie Killer on a local restaurant menu, if not ordered it. This lightly carbonated mead won the Mazer Cup Gold Medal award in 2011. And for those of you who don’t know (myself included, until writing this article), the Mazer Cup is an international mead competition.

Additional meads include The Dude’s Rug (a chai spiced cider), Necromangocon (a lightly carbonated mead with honey and black pepper) and Kill All the Golfers (essentially an Arnold Palmer in mead form—tea with honey and lemon).

Uncarbonated (or still) meads come in varieties like Orange Blossom, Wildflower, Vanilla Cinnamon and Wildberry Pyment. Head to the taproom to sample any of the aforementioned meads and keep your eyes on the meadery’s Facebook page for upcoming special events.

Dragonmead Microbrewery, 14600 E. 11 Mile, Warren, is known for its great local beers, but the establishment has “mead” right in its name. Voted best microbrew in Macomb for 2014 by readers of the Metro Times, there are plenty of varieties of mead at Dragonmead. Try Banana (made with bananas and wildflower honey), Chardonnay Pyment (made with Chardonnay grapes, Sémillion grapes and orange blossom honey), Dry Orange Blossom or Pomegranate.

Fun fact that I learned from the mead menu here: the word honeymoon originates from mead! Back in the Middle Ages, mead was gifted to newlywed couples in hopes of, er, producing male offspring. The more you know!

Blake’s Hard Cider Co. is a cider house located at Blake’s Orchard & Cider Mill, 17985 Armada Center Rd., Armada. There are always 12 different varieties of cider on tap, and each are made with fresh apples picked from the orchard’s trees.

Flavors rotate seasonally, but here are a few of what you can get your hands on now: Catawampus (a dry, hoppy, citrusy cider), Beard Bender, Flannel Mouth (the sweetest of the bunch), El Chavo (a blend of habanero, mango and apple) and Autumn Apple (crisp and delicious).

The concept of heading to an apple orchard for the afternoon just got better for the 21 and up crowd. Because really, what’s better than apple cider and a fresh doughnut? Hard apple cider and a fresh doughnut, that’s what.

Motor City Brewing Works, 470 Canfield St., Detroit, has been around for 20 years, creating craft brews beloved by Metro Detroiters. Although known for its beers, MCBW produces a hard cider year round. Even though you can enjoy it 365 days a year (well, at least the days the brewery is open for business), the Cass Farm series cider is best enjoyed during the fall months.

Brewed with Michigan apples, Michigan beet sugar and English cider yeast, it is a dry and rich cider, perfect for enjoying on a fall evening.

If you’re headed out for an after work drink with friends, or getting ready for a night in by the TV, trade your normal brew in (just this once!) for a locally made mead or hard cider. As always, drink responsibly and enjoy!