By Jami Eiring
When Paul Leslie’s son got him a beer making kit for Christmas one year he finally got to try out his interest: brewing.
“I made probably the worst batch of beer you’ve ever tasted,” Leslie said. “We threw it out.”
With an old Celtic recipe and some leftover honey however, he tried making a new kind of liquor.
Leslie and his wife Heidi started the company Humboldt Honey Wine about a year ago. They began selling their mead on Apr. 1 at Siren Song Tavern in Eureka and the Arcata Farmer’s Markets.
Mead is honey wine: an alcoholic drink of fermented honey and water. Leslie said many cultures have a recipe for mead and they all taste different.
“Ours has a slight effervescence to it because it is a young wine,” Leslie said. “But people seem to like the little tingle.”
When Leslie compares the level of sweetness of their honey wine to grape wine he said the sweet is similar to moscato and the dry is similar to sauvignon blanc.
“To me it is an art form,” Leslie said. “We make it (mead) the old fashioned way.”
The couple has bee hives all over Humboldt County. Each batch of mead tastes a little different because the bees are getting nectar from different types of plants.
“We want every batch to be a little different,” Leslie said. “Just to be a little different from the rest.”
Leslie combines their honey with water and yeast to sit and ferment in 50 gallon tanks. Each batch of mead takes 60 to 120 days to ferment. The mead is always 14 percent alcohol which Leslie said is a little stronger than the average wine.
McKinleyville local Jeanne Howard bought two bottles of Humboldt Honey Wine this past weekend at the Arcata Farmer’s market.
“(The mead) is lighter than I’m used to,” Howard said. “It is on the sweet side but has the consistency of a good wine. My plan is to go home and figure out what to make with it.”
Full Story: Get Buzzzzed
Profile: Humboldt Honey Wine