By Jim Krencik
The Daily News
MEDINA, NEW YORK — The crowd of more than 700 taking part in Saturday’s Ale in Autumn received their fair share of ales, porters and bizarre brews from around the world.
They also got a sneak preview of the range of flavors that 810 Meadworks, a manufacturer of fermented, honey-based alcohol will serve right in town.
810 Meadworks owners Larissa and Byran DeGraw and Morris Babcock offered a glimpse Saturday of the mead-making process and a taste of what’s on tap when their tasting room opens in two months.
Barrels filled with the meadery’s four flagship varieties were fermenting as tourgoers tasted a pair of “short meads” made in the past month.
What immediately caught tasters was that the meads taste far less like an over-honeyed tea than a regular drink. Scarlet A, an apple-cranberry flavored mead was similar to a wine cooler, while Bee Vomit mimicked the dry, hoppy taste of an IPA. Both were around 7 percent alcohol.
“We chose two beer-like drinks because we wanted to be a part of the event,” Larissa DeGraw said, “and to express that these aren’t the only two meads, its as varied as grape wine.”
Mead is one of the oldest fermented beverages, originally made from honey, yeast and water. Bryan DeGraw, the meadery’s master meadmaker, said the process is more technical now.
“We start with a kettle of water heated up and mixed with a variety of teas, then cool it in another kettle and stir in the honey,” DeGraw said with dozens of barrels around him. “We then put in a plastic barrel to ferment and then in a stainless steel barrel to age.”
The meads in process include orange, mango, blackcurrant and coffee vanilla varieties, with pineapple-cucumber and pomegranate-wild flower honey varieties planned for the spring. The longer-fermenting meads have an alcohol content similar to wine, which Babcock, the store’s brand ambassador, said is a fair comparison.
“Mead is compared to wine, but I think it has more depth, character and flavor,” Babcock said. “As it ages, the flavor comes out.
The meadery is the first business to open in the village under a zoning revision allowing micro-breweries, distilleries and wineries to operate in the central business district. It will serve its own creations by tap and bottle it for sale and eventually to restaurants.
Only the manufacturing area of the business was open Saturday, its clean environment mixed with a flashing sign of the pink, cyan and neon yellow that shade the store’s black lettered logo. When 810 Meadworks re-opens in the Newell Building, it will be joined by a back room bar serving flights of mead, honey-soda and small plate pairings.