A dream that took many years to ferment, Black Heath Meadery finally opened its doors to the community this week.
March 6, 2015; 6:00 AM • by Trevor Dickerson
Bill Cavender has had his eye on Richmond’s exploding craft beer scene for years now.
The self-described homebrewer watched as fledgling breweries began to dot the city’s landscape over the past few years, all the while thinking it was time to bring something different to the table. Specifically, mead.
The World’s Oldest Fermented Beverage
While the concept of mead is new to many, the concoction itself is nothing new. Widely believed to be the world’s oldest fermented beverage–dating back to at least 2800 BC–mead is made from fermented honey and fruits, which gives it both a unique taste and aroma unlike any other alcoholic beverage.
In its purest, most basic form, mead is produced with yeast and honey. Everything from additives such as fruits to the varieties of flowers the bees pollinate can affect the taste of the final product. Apples, grapes, and spices are added to create the most common varieties.
Fermentation takes approximately 45 days–a bit longer than the typical beer-making process.
A Dream Years In The Making
“Three years ago, we were watching the craft beer thing blow up, and we felt like palates were changing and people were looking for different stuff.” Cavender said of his decision to embark on a journey to start Richmond’s first meadery.
Cavender has been making his own mead for over 20 years, sourcing both the honey and fruits needed to produce it locally. Three years ago, along with wife Jayne Heffner, he set out on an ambitious plan to bring his mead into the public realm.
In an effort to test the proverbial waters and gauge Richmonders’ interest in his product, Cavender launched a Kickstarter in late 2012 to fund the RVA Mead Lab. The lab, housed in a modest shed in Midlothian, was fully funded to the tune of $7,500 in early 2013.
Profile: Black Heath Meadery