by Alex Buis,
August 20 inaugurated Denver’s newest addition to the brewery scene, Queen Bee Brews. Contrary to popular assumption, this brewery doesn’t brew beer at all — they brew mead. Renowned as the Nectar of the Gods, mead has been created naturally since bees populated the earth, with rainwater seeping into beehives fermenting with airborne yeast. The earliest remnants of home-brewed mead traces back to 7000 B.C. China in pottery vessels. Mead’s common association summons to mind Medieval Germany or the knights of the round table; however, the 21st-century craft beer scene seems to have triggered a similar spike in mead brewing. These days, connoisseurs and plebeians alike can merrily imbibe the honey-wine elixir.
Deborah Lee, owner and brewmaster at Queen Bee, reflects on her first experiences with mead. “A woman in my home brewing circle made a lot of it. She told me it was quicker and less taxing than brewing beer, so I gave it a try.” While everyone else slaved over the perfect Double IPA, Lee evolved batch after small batch of her delicious mead. You might suspect all meads to taste quite similar to one another, but she informed me that, “depending on which flowers the bee pollinates, the mead’s palatability and mouthfeel can shift profoundly.” She works with various flowers and bee colonies around the country, hoping to eventually source entirely from a farm of her own keeping in Northern Colorado where wildflowers are abundant.
Drawing ingredients from a wide range of geographic locales doesn’t compromise the exquisite delicacy, but enriches the diversity of flavors. The distinctions lie in the terroir of the honey, which stems from various environmental conditions transforming the bee’s relationship with the flower. For instance, her Orange Blossom Mead is derived from California orange tree petals pollinated by the bees whose honey fills the mixture. The flavor profile is complex with a light, malty honey base piqued with a nip of citrus from the oranges. Primarily infused in cosmetics, meadowfoam wildflowers from the Pacific Northwest comprise another one of her magnificent meads, glossing the tongue with a sweet and toasty flavor. “The taste is a combination of the look, smell, flavor and how it sits in your mouth,” Lee explained of the experience of drinking mead.
Full Story: Queen Bee Brings Mead to the Mile High City
Meadery Profile: Queen Bee Brews