Our first meadery- Moonlight Meadery

ImageYesterday (in April 2013) we went to our first Meadery. Mead is wine made from honey. It is the oldest fermented beverage, and believed to have been made accidentally at first, due to hunting and gathering. Mead is made from a combination of honey, water and yeast.

We went to Moonlight Meadery, located in Londonderry, New Hampshire. Their motto is “Romance by the glass,” and they name each of their meads accordingly.

Upon entering, we were immediately greeted. It is always a good feeling when you are recognized upon entering a building, especially at any type of winery/brewery, etc since they are all run slightly different. So, we were greeted immediately and let them know that we had a livingsocial deal. Our deal included a tour, tasting, 2 wine glasses and $10 off a purchase.

Tours start every half hour, and you should plan on being there for about an hour. We tried  a couple of meads (see descriptions) prior to the tour, and our tour started promptly at 5:00. We were the only people on the tour, but both the tours before and after us had a lot more (one following had 10 people). The tour was very informative, and lasted about a half hour. It did not feel lengthy, and had a laid back feeling to the tour. The tour had a story telling, hanging out with your friends, talking about a passion, feel to it. The meadery makes their products completely from beginning to end (minus making the honey themselves). Image

Fermentation tanks

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Fermentation tanks

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Bottling station, complete with cork machine & label “machine”

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These barrels are whiskey barrels, used by Sam Adams Brewing Company for their Utopian beer (between $100-$200 depending on the year). Moonlight Meadery uses them once Sam Adams is done, for their Utopian Mead.

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The tasting area

The meadery has about 56 different meads, with about 35 able to taste on a daily basis. Depending on which tour package you purchase, you are able to try between 4-8 meads. You can also purchase a keepsake glass, which would allow you to try either 4 or 6 meads.

The only downfall to the expansive amount of mead they have available, is that we are new to mead, so we weren’t sure what to try. I had tried 1 or 2 meads at a beer tasting last year, but had no idea where to start. The man who was running the show was also the second brewer/mead maker, so he knew what he was talking about and was able to give us great recommendations.

Notes from what Mark & I tried (descriptions from meadery are in italics)

Deviant: Uniquely refreshing, sweet, smooth blend of honey, apple and ginger please from aroma to lingering finish. Deviant had a really good balance of honey, apple and giner with no flavor outshining the others

Desire: Our Flagship: Enticing, complex blend of blueberries, black cherries and black currants balanced with basic elements of mead; honey, water and yeast. Desire was one of the first that Mark tried

Kurt’s Apple Pie: One of the biggest selling meads made from local apple cider with Madagascar-bourbon vanilla and Vietnamese cinnamon spice added. Get your piece of pie. This was delicious! Kurt’s Apple Pie was one of the first that I tried, and I wanted more. I left having bought a bottle. They sell Kurt’s Apple Pie 2x the amount of any other mead.

Sumptuous: Made from honey and mangos, sweet, smooth, wonderful complexity between the flavors and the long lasting finish, with a light body. The mangos were not huge on the flavor front, but balanced with the honey well and made a good combination.

Breathless: Intense, gripping cinnamon candy sweet dessert wine. This decadent spicy candy like mead is very similar to a popular cinnamon candy. WOW! Was this cinnamon! Breathless had a very intense cinnamon flavor, maybe too much for me, but could be great if added to vanilla ice cream.

Utopian: We aged and fermented this mead in hand-selected, Samuel Adams Utopias casks from the award-winning Boston Beer Company. This flavorful, slightly fruity mead has a sweet, complex flavor that is reminiscent of a deep, rich vintage port, fine cognac or aged sherry. The Utopian had a sweet, bourbon flavor. The flavor seemed to be “thick,” as Mark described it. This was the second mead we tried. The Utopian is $50 for bottle of #4, or $100 for a bottle of #5 or #6. We tried #6.

Je t’aime: Created for the owner’s wedding this past August. It was a sparkling mead, and the first one that we tried.

Stiletto: Provocative statement of slick and sexy, blend of bold black currant with lighter tones of honey and apple sweetness. A good, summer mead with a slight tang to it. I enjoyed this one a lot, and left with a bottle of it.

Serenity: made with apricot tea (I believe a rooibos tea). Reminded me of the kombucha we had tried at the Urban Farm Fermentory.

Admiration: not many notes on this one, besides “YUM!”

Kisses: As delicate as a kiss, this honey strawberry wine is sweet.  The strawberry is ever so lightly represented against the floral flavors from the honey. Light on the strawberry flavor, which brings out the honey flavor. Was very good. Told that when it is cold, it truly “crisps up.”

Mischief: As in the conduct or activity that playfully causes petty annoyance.  These Black Raspberries are deep in flavor and only enhanced by the honey notes, this wine will continue to age and mature over time. Mark and I both tried this one, and enjoyed it. If we were buying three bottles, this would have been the third.

Seduction: Fermented with natural Chocolate Madagascar-Bourbon Vanilla and Sumatra coffee.  Dessert sweet honey notes, balanced by the bitterness from the coffee and oh so smooth vanilla in the background. At first sip, the chocolate and coffee weren’t very foward flavors, but wow! strong finish. Really liked this one at the last sip. Would be great with a small dish of vanilla ice cream.

Frisky: Are you inclined to frisk?  Enjoy a little “Joie de vivre” with this rollicking honey blueberry maple wine.  Light, playful and every so tasty.  Think Wild with a frisky touch of maple syrup.  Our newest release, available at the meadery, is aged in our Utopian barrels, and we added a touch more maple. After hearing about this one while on the tour, I told Mark he needed to try it- right up his alley. Mark said it was bourbon like, with blueberries & honey.

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Us, after trying some delicious mead!

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We overheard another group being told that if they bring their glasses back, they can have another tasting- for free.

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Close up of the glass

We would definitely recommend Moonlight Meadery. Mead is different than wine or beer, and is a different taste overall.

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Moonlight Meadery is open for Tasting, Tours and Sales daily, starting at 11:00am.

Hours

Monday – Tuesday 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Wednesday – Saturday 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Sunday 11:00 – 5:00 PM

*Tours happen as needed on weekdays, and every half hour on weekends.  No reservations needed.    We offer several different tour and tasting packages.

Romance by the glass…  Tasting glassware

     Small glassware

  • Taste up to 4 meads with keepsake glass    $5

     Large glassware

  • Taste up to 6 meads with keepsake glass    $8

     Tour & Tasting… $15 per person

  • Deluxe Tour
  • Large keepsake glass, with taste up to 6 meads.
  • $5 off purchase of 2 or more bottles.

     Romance Package… $50 per couple

  • Deluxe Tour
  • 2 large keepsake glasses, with taste up to 8 meads per person.
  • Cheese & Crackers
  • $10 off purchase of 2 or more bottles.

     Executive Room… (Pricing available on request.)

  • Private tasting room for up to 20 people.
  • Large keepsake glassware per person
  • Cheese & Crackers pairings
  • $10 off purchase of 2 or more bottles per person.
  • Meet the Mead Maker
  • Reservations Required

Shipyard Brewery

IMG_1825Upon entering Shipyard Brewery for a tour & tasting, you are directed to a “viewing room,” where there are benches set up in front of a large screen. Every hour, a short video plays, giving you a “tour” of the brewery. The video is quick, yet informative. After the video is over, you are asked to pull out your ID to head to the tasting room.

The tasting room has a long bar top, with two tap areas. The two tour givers pass out the first couple of beers, along with information on each one. After 2-3, you are on your own and can try whatever you would like. 🙂

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Applehead: nice spices of apple pie. Inspired by the flavors and success of Pumpkinhead (their #1 seller)

Export: 1st brew by shipyard. Nice malty start. Finishes clean. Session beer

Old Thumper: ESB (Extra Special Bitter), created at Ringwood Brewery in England. Only beer not created by Shipyard.

Fuggles IPA: not a big fan of this one. Mild IPA. British style

Monkey Fist IPA: West Coast American Style. More typical IPA flavor

Smashed Pumpkin: Pumpkinhead on steroids! Delicious! Mark didn’t like as much as the original pumpkinhead, but I did

Smashed Blueberry: 1st taste- chocolate covered blueberries. Strong blueberry flavor. Mark liked a lot, I did not as much

Blue Fin Stout: classic Irish stout. Full bodied, yet smooth. Had an espresso taste. Not as strong of a flavor as I would have enjoyed

Casco Bay Rip Tide Red Ale: Butterscotch notes. Clean finish. I’m not usually a red ale person, but it was good!

In their video tour room, the walls are covered with awards, retired bottles, bottles of beers they brew for others, and the Shipyard family. Some that we saw in there were surprising, but made sense seeing that Shipyard has the biggest brewing capability in Maine!

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Coming in May: Melonhead… Wonder how this one will be… They have used similar spices for Applehead and Pumpkinhead, but I don’t think that will work for Melon. Thoughts on what they might use or what it might taste like?

Snow Farm Vineyard- 2 mulled wine recipes

While at Snow Farm Vineyard, we were given 2 recipes for mulled wine. One uses the Baco Noir that I enjoyed. Seeing that the two recipes are similar, and use different red wines, I feel you could substitute a different red wine in, if you weren’t able to find the Baco Noir or the Leon Millot.

Enjoy!

 

1 bottle Baco Noir, 1/2 cup sugar. 1/2 cup water, 2 cinnamon sticks, 6 cloves

OR

1 bottle Leon Millot, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water, 3 cinnamon sticks, 6 cloves

Warm at low temperature for about 15-20 minutes.

I would recommend using a crock-pot.

Snow Farm Vineyard

On a recent trip to Vermont (April 2013), we visited Snow Farm Vineyard’s tasting room. Their tasting room is located at the Cabot Annex, in Waterbury Center, Vermont. The winery is located in South Hero, on an island in the center of Lake Champlain.

When we first arrived to the tasting room, the man who was running the tasting was on the phone, seeming to be winery business. After a few minutes, he was off the phone and we started our wine tasting. You could try all of the wine for a set price of $7, which included a wine glass to take home. While there, we tried 11 wines. Many of their wines are Estate wines, which means the wine must be sourced from vineyard fruit from the same AVA (American Viticulture Area) where the winery is located

The guy who was running the tasting was friendly, and asked us what kinds of wine we tend to enjoy, and what we would avoid. We were both very vocal with what we liked and disliked during the tasting, which he liked and said more people should be.

’12 Estate Seyval Blanc: Apple, pear and melon notes. Dry with a smooth finish.

’11 Estate Vidal Blanc: Dry and crisp white wine. Citrus: tangerine, mandarin, lemon & lime.

American Riesling: Dry and spicy Riesling. Lemon, lime and peach.

Snow White: an Estate wine. A blend of Cayuga and Seyval grapes. Recommended to eat with cheese. While there, we were told to drink a sip of wine, eat a bite of cheese and then enjoy some more wine. Delicious! I took home a bottle.

’10 Estate Leon Millot: Rich, mellow, earthy wine.

’12 Estate Baco Noir: smooth tannins (I don’t tend to like wine with a high amount of tannins), black cherry and blackberry. Medium bodied and fruity. Although this is a red wine (I’m not big into red wine), I enjoyed this. Bought a bottle for when I have a friend over who enjoys red wine- so we can share a bottle 🙂

’11 Crescent Bay Red: Also an Estate wine. Blend of Baco Noir, Leon Millot and Frontenac.

Rose Red: Blend of Baco Noir and Catawba. Can be enjoyed like a Sangria. Mark enjoyed this one, I thought it would be great as a Sangria.

’10 Estate Vignoles: A late harvest wine. Varied tastes, peaches, almonds, pear, oranges, pineapple, butterscotch…

’12 Estate Vidal Blanc: Ice Wine. Notes of exotic fruit- mango, pineapple, lychee nuts. Great dessert wine. Expensive in price, otherwise I would have went home with a bottle of it.

IMG_1762What we left with: SnNow White, Rose Red and 2 glasses

Blue Hills Brewery

IMG_2247[1]This weekend, in 2013, we visited the Blue Hills Brewery, located in Canton, Massachusetts. With Mark and I were: his brother Jason, sister Michelle (who had visited Flag Hill Winery with us), and their mother, Sheila. Jason and Michelle had both been to a brewery before, but this was the first experience for Sheila.

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We went Saturday around 4pm, and it was packed! Always a good sign,  because it implies the beer is good, but sometimes means you can’t have a personalized experience or an opportunity to ask many questions. When we entered the brewery, we were greeted, but were still uncertain about where to go/what to do since different brewery’s have different systems set up. We also weren’t certain that the person who had greeted us worked there, as often breweries have a very friendly following. After a minute or so, space by the bar opened up and we moved in. We were told we could try the beers in order, or go from lightest to heaviest. We chose to move across the spectrum- lightest to heaviest. IMG_2246[1] The beers, lined up on the counter to try
 IMG_2252[1]IMG_2251[1]They had a booklet listing the beers they create, with descriptions. Helpful since it was so busy!



Pomegranate Wampatuck Wheat
: German hefeweizen & unfiltered. Not overly fruity, a good balance. Slight tartness with a wheat finish. 4.8% ABV. Michelle & I both bought a bomber of this.

Blueberry Wampatuck Wheat: great blueberry flavor. Tastes like it would be perfect with either a graham cracker rim or vanilla ice cream.

Watermelon Wampatuck Wheat: German hefeweizen & unfiltered. Initial smell- jolly rancher. Tastes just like a watermelon jolly rancher. Perfect beer for those overly hot, sticky, summer days. 4.8% ABV. Michelle bought one of these in a bomber.
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Antimatter: English Mild Ale. A session beer. sort of a “plain” beer. Nothing jumped out at you.
Red Baron Ale: seemed hoppy for an Irish Red
Black Hops Beer: fun label- black opps like. Description mentioned hints of coffee and chocolate, but I didn’t really taste either. Wish it has had a stronger flavor, but it also could have been because I was using the same cup and it might have not meshed well with the Red Baron Ale. It didn’t taste as dark as it looked, which I think most in our group preferred. 6.75% ABV
At this point, another staff member started to help pour the tastings, which helped immensely. We were then given more of an opportunity to ask questions about the beer and make comments about it.  
Comet Tail: brewed with “a healthy dose of hops.” Citrus, but sweet and mellow. I really enjoyed this one, and felt like it was a great summer ale. 5.4% ABV.  I went home with a bomber of the Comet Tail.
India Pale Ale (IPA): smooth flavor. everyone with the exception of myself really liked this one. I am not a big IPA drinker, so this made sense to me. 6.6% ABV. Jason bought a bomber of IPA.
Double IPA:  I liked this one much better than the IPA. Mark bought a growler of this.
Imperial Red IPA: unfiltered beer, a combination of their red ale and IPA. The man working stated “strongest one, misleadingly smooth.” It was too much for Michelle’s taste.
I had first heard about the Blue Hills Brewery while I was working nearby, at the Blue Hills Ski Area. The Ski Area had the pleasure of inviting the Brewery to events throughout past seasons, but I was typically working and thus, unable to try the beer. I had been looking forward to going to Blue Hills Brewery for awhile, and am glad we went.
They offer many seasonal beers and we might have to go back to try some again.
For purchase, most beers are offered in six packs, bombers (24oz) and growlers (64oz). The deposit for the growler is inexpensive compared to other breweries, at only $2 a bottle. Price per fill varies depending on which beer it is. Bombers are only $3. They do not use a distributor so they are able to keep prices low for their customers.
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The brewery offers complimentary tastings: Wednesdays 5-8, Fridays 3p-7p, and Saturdays 1p-7p. Check their website or facebook before you go.
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The cups we bought to add to our growing collection.
IMG_2253[1]Pomegranate Wampatuck Wheat, Double IPA and Comet Tail