Roanoke tasting room aims to change mead’s image from medieval to mainstream
By Tiffany Holland
The Roanoke Times
What is old is new again.
It’s true of vinyl records, bold horn-rimmed glasses and now mead. The ancient alcoholic beverage has been around for thousands of years, preceding more common party drinks like beer and wine. But to most people, mead is relegated to the pages of “Beowulf” or movies where men fight with swords.
That is changing. As consumers continue to seek more authentic, locally made food and drinks, craft beer and cocktails have become the rage and spurred an interest in homebrewing. That, in turn, has boosted mead production.
Steve and Joanne Villers were ahead of the trend. They opened Blacksnake Meadery in rural Carroll County in 2006. Steve Villers said nearly all their business comes from tourists vacationing in the area’s picturesque mountains. More visitors come from North Carolina than from Roanoke, even though it’s just a hour and a half drive away. Since the Villerses live in Roanoke, they wanted to change this. They decided if they couldn’t get Roanokers to Blacksnake, they would bring Blacksnake to Roanoke.
The couple’s new tasting room, The Hive, opened a few weeks ago at 1116 Main St. in Wasena. All production is still handled in Carroll County, but Roanoke patrons can taste all six of Blacksnake’s bottled meads. Tasting flights are available for $12. There are also flights of honey and of area wines. But mead is the main show.
The Villerses hope the same curious attitudes that allowed craft beer tasting rooms to flourish in the Roanoke Valley will also lead customers into The Hive.
Meadery Profile: Blacksnake Meadery