LONDONDERRY, NEW HAMPSHIRE – This winter, New Hampshire’s Moonlight Meadery (23 Londonderry Road #17, 603-216-2162) will bring their richly flavored, artisanally produced and gluten-free meads to an ever-increasing audience that now includes nearly two dozen states, including Illinois. Founded by meadmaker Michael Fairbrother in 2010 to produce mead (the world’s first recorded fermented beverage, traditionally made with honey and water), Moonlight is the nation’s fastest growing meadery. The growing business has expanded with astounding speed, going from a small-town operation using only locally sourced honey to a major national player whose demand for honey outpaces the entire production of the state of New Hampshire.
“When I started making mead, I committed to using exceptional, sustainably produced honeys, and we remain steadfast to that practice – but today, our demand is such that we source honey from across the country,” says Fairbrother, who has seen his business grow by a dizzying 71% year-over-year. “We’re thrilled to bring our meads to a wider audience, and we believe that mead, distinct from beer or wine, will become one of the country’s go-to beverages, both for pairing with a great meal or simply enjoying on its own.”
Mead is a diverse fermented beverage that can be produced in several variations. Moonlight’s portfolio of meads includes representatives of all four types, including:
- the Classic version, simply honey and water aged to perfection, such as Sensual, traditional mead made from wildflower honey that is a perfect introduction to the beverage and Je T’Aime, a sparkling rare Tupelo honey mead that Fairbrother created for his own wedding in 2012;
- Melomel, or fruit mead, to which fruit juices and purees lend depth of flavor and complement the beverage’s honeyed sweetness, such as Wild, a dry melomel produced with wild mountain blueberries from Alton Bay, NH that is ideal as a complement to rich foods such as cheeses or red meat and Desire, their flagship melomel, with enticing flavors of blueberries, black cherries and black currants, a first-place finisher among the 353 entries at the New England Regional Homebrew Competition;
- Metheglin, or spiced mead, fermented with anything from Madagascar vanilla to ginger to chili peppers, such as Flutter, a metheglin that brings ginger and honey flavors together and pairs beautifully with Asian foods such as sushi and Fury, a spicy mead made from three different chiles;
- and finally, meads that combine fruit and spice for a truly one-of-a-kind drink, often Barrel-Aged, such as Virtue, a honey apple wine that is light, playful and semi-sweet and Temerity, a barrel-aged mead that spends no less than six months in Sam Adams Utopian barrels for boldness and profundity.
Fairbrother, who volunteered to manage a few home brew competitions for Sam Adams over the years maintains a mutually beneficial working relationship the brewery, and uses Sam Adams Utopian barrels for several of his barrel-aged meads. He has been brewing meads for more than 18 years, and holds three consecutive titles of “Mead Maker of the Year” from the New England Regional Homebrew Competition. He is also a four-time president of “Brew Free of Die,” the largest homebrew club in New England, and a certified beer judge. He is a frequent “Best of Show” judge at national and international mead-making competitions and a lifetime member of the American Homebrewers Association.
“I didn’t set out to become a brewer; after college, I spent time as a VP of software engineering and as the chief operating officer of a corporation, but that work didn’t move me or excite me,” he explains. “I started brewing mead as a hobby, and it didn’t take me long to realize that this was my passion. I’m grateful every day for the opportunity to share what I love with others, and working to bring my meads to a larger audience is a thrilling new development.”
Moonlight Meads are currently available in Arizona; California; Colorado; Connecticut; Florida; Illinois; Georgia; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Nevada; New Hampshire, New Jersey; New York; Rhode Island; Vermont; Virginia; Washington, D.C. , Washington and Wisconsin. They will be coming to Pennsylvania and Texas in 2013.
Their meads have been featured on NHPR and in Yankee magazine, who wrote that “…many first-time [mead] tasters are surprised, in a good way” by Fairbrother’s exceptional products, which run the gamut from dry to semi-sweet to sweet and appeal to a wide variety of drinkers.
For more information, including where to shop for Moonlight Meads and flavor profiles of all their award-winning beverages, please visit www.moonlightmeadery.com. Drinkers are also encouraged to visit the meadery, where tours and tastings expose them to the world of mead-brewing and showcase meads alongside fine cheeses, one of the drink’s most natural and delicious pairings.