Sap House Meadery, Center Ossipee, NH

image (10)Mark and I recently went to the Sap House Meadery, located in Center Ossipee, New Hampshire. There, we were greeted by Matt, one of the owners. We had a nice tasting, followed by a tour of their production room.photo (1) image (1)

Our tasting:

Sugar Maple: 13.8% ABV. Not too sweet, good balance. Both Mark and I were pleasantly surprised by the level of sweetness.

Peach Maple: 14.6% ABV A little drier than the Sugar Maple. This mead was also aged in American Oak for 8 months, which adds a little bit of complexity image

Hopped Blueberry Maple: 14.6% ABV. Were told that this was the mead for the beer drinker. The hops added a nice flavor to the mead, and no one flavor pushed around the other. Honey,  blueberry with a touch of maple with hops to balance.

Vanilla Bean: 18% ABV. This is the only one that I wasn’t a huge fan of. It was still very good, and Mark enjoyed it. They use the baking bean, Indian, instead of Madagascar

Ossipioja: 14.2% ABV. The wine drinkers mead. They use Spanish grape juice, made from Tempranillo grapes, with honey. This was good and different!

After we finished the traditional tasting, and we were talking about different places we like to go, what we like to drink, etc, we tried the Sugar Maple again- this time after it had been aged in an American Oak Cask. This was very good, and added a slight whiskey flavor to it. The meadery sells small casks for people to age their mead at home. They also have their casks at a few different establishments and noted that the flavor changes as it ages. You could go one week and the next and have something that tastes very different.

image (2) image (6)  image (3)  image (5) 

The Sap House Meadery produces small batch, hand crafted meads. A mead is basically a wine made from honey. The Sap House Meadery opened in 2010, by Ash Fischbein and Matt Trahan, both from Center Ossipee. They chose Center Ossipee because they are familiar with the area, and know where to go for local products. They also chose Center Ossipee in hopes of helping the downtown area grow.

One of the very cool things about Sap House Meadery is that they use New Hampshire Maple syrup in a lot of their meads. They focus on using local ingredients in all of their meads, and make mead in the traditional way. When they heat the mead, they do not heat it over 90 degrees Fahrenheit in order to maintain the delicate flavors. Other mead producers do boil their mead, as it the stabilization process go faster. Sap House Meadery takes between 6 months and a year to produce a batch, as they would prefer it to be a better quality and self stabilize.

When you visit, you are able to tour their facility. At this time, they are operating in one large room, with fermenting tanks lined up all around. During our tour, we were told about the process of making mead- mix honey, water, flavors (fruit, etc) and yeast together. The type of yeast varies depending on what you want the final product to be; Champagne yeast for the vanilla mead, German yeast for blueberry and yeast made from the grapes they use for their Ossipioja mead. The cooler you can bring the mead down to ferment, the smoother the mead becomes. After the mead ferments for 8-10 weeks, you can drink it but it is harsh. Time is necessary for the flavor to fully develop. During the fermentation process, fresh ingredients are added to make the flavor layered. image (9)  image (8)  image (7)

Everything at the meadery is done by hand. The mead is bottled by hand, labeled by hand and then dipped in beeswax by hand. They were initially going to use a foil top, but, if they were to have one without grapes on it, they would have needed to order half a million! Wax creates a nice touch. The color of the wax depends on the color of the mead and the label.

Their busy time of year fluctuates, depending on where they are distributing to and what traffic is like there. During the summer, they are busy due to people traffic in New Hampshire. At this time of year, they are busy in part because of gifts, and part because of distribution to areas like Virginia and Washington, DC where this time of year is popular for travel.

Looking to visit? They are open Saturdays and Sundays from 1-5.

image (11)

Oh, and by the way… they are award winners as well:

Sugar Maple:

BRONZE medal, 2011 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition
BRONZE medal, 2012 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition

 Blueberry:

GOLD medal, 2012 Mazer Cup International Mead Competition
SILVER medal, 2012 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition

 Vanilla Bean:

GOLD medal, 2012 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition
BRONZE medal, 2012 Florida State Fair International Wine Competition

Ossipioja:

GOLD medal, Finger Lakes International Wine Competition

Chocolate:

SILVER medal, Finger Lakes International Wine Competition

Cranberry Sage:

SILVER medal, 2012 Mazer Cup International Mead Competition
BRONZE medal, 2012 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition

image (12)Megan & Mark, after having a good time at the Sap House Meadery

Advertisements

6th Annual Vermont Life Wine and Harvest Festival at Mount Snow in Dover, Vermont

100_0734Last weekend, Mark and I went to Vermont for the 6th Annual Vermont Life Wine and Harvest Festival, located at Mount Snow in Dover, Vermont.

We played tourists for the weekend, visited a couple of breweries and a winery, saw the beginning of fall foliage and went camping. 100_0741
100_0605  100_0607

We started our weekend early, heading over Friday morning. We arrived around 1pm, and started our weekend off with a quick chat and tasting at Northshire Brewing. Look here next week for a review and photos! We followed the beer with more beer (and lunch) at Madison Brewing Company, a brewpub. Look here next week for a review and photos!

We then checked into the campground, and went out on the pond for a little bit. 100_0653  100_0646 We followed paddle-boating with a dinner cooked over the fire and watched the fire glow… 100_0654  100_0672 100_0684  100_0683  100_0682

The next morning, Saturday, was the day of the 6th Annual Vermont Life Wine and Harvest Festival. After making a quick breakfast of bagels toasted over the fire, we set off for a fun and alcohol filled day.

When we arrived at Mount Snow, we (at first) went the wrong way. Although our GPS was giving us the correct directions, even once we were on the Mount Snow property, we tried to follow the signs to determine where to park. Unfortunately, it was a breezy day, and some of the signs had turned around, misdirecting us. Luckily, the hotel valet directed us the correct way (as our GPS had been telling us to do haha). 100_0717After we found parking, we checked in and proceeded to have our IDs checked. After receiving our “over 21” bracelets and a stamp stating we had paid, we proceeded to get our wine glasses, grab bags and 3 tasting tickets a piece.100_0718  100_0729

We decided to walk around the two large tents before really stopping to taste anything. There were wineries, cider, cheese farms, and distilleries, places sampling jam, pickles and candy…

Oh, a note on the tastes. Each taste cost 1 ticket. A size of a taste varied table to table, some saying it was 1 ticket per pour, others 1 for all they were offering, and others, 2 tickets for all that they were offering. We were not able to try all of the wineries, but were able to try most and didn’t spend too too much on extra tickets (about $13).

Many of our stops at the festival:

Grafton Village Cheese:

We tried:

  • 3 year cheddar (bought)
  • 5 year cheddar
  • Maple Smoked Cheddar (very dry, but good!)
  • Leyden- English style cheese. Really good!

All of their cheese was very delicious! Would have loved to go home with more- will look into buying at least another block next time we are in Vermont. One of the really great things about the Grafton Village Cheese table, besides all of the delicious cheese, is that although this was one of the first tables we went to, they remembered us at the end of our day, when we went back to make a purchase. Something as small as that gesture of remembering really helps make a difference.

Newhall Maple Syrup:

Woodfired, grade A maple syrup

Really good, nice, sweet and thick

Newhall also made a cider, and had it paired with two other small orchards for a tasting:

we tried them in the following order, from lowest to highest in both alcohol and acidity

  • Windfall Orchards Ice Cider- 30 different varieties of apples go into the making of. 9% ABV. Great with dessert or cheese
  • Eden Heirloom Blend-10 different varieties of apples, 10% ABV. Goes well with dried meats
  • Newhall Ice Cider-Won a double gold metal. 12% ABV.

We both liked all three, for different reasons. Each one was unique.

Caledonia Spirits and Winery

All products are made from honey

I was very excited about this brand, due in part to the “Barr” name of two of their products.

Our tasting:

  • Barr Hill Vodka- not harsh, slight honey flavor
  • Barr Hill Gin- honey more powerful here. A sipping gin. Although I am not a gin drinker, i enjoyed this.
  • Elderberry Cordial- really good! Would be great as an after dinner drink or mixed with Prosecco 100_0722  100_0719  100_0721  100_0720

Whistlepig Straight Rye Whiskey

100 proof. Highest rated whiskey, 96 points. Good taste, but pricey. I found out after the festival that Whistlepig is not made in Vemont as we were made to think (all the others were Vermont made). I was disappointed in this. I did, however, find out that the distiller who makes this used to work for Maker’s Mark, which could be why I enjoyed it.

Vermont Farmstead Cheese Company

Tried:

  • Lille- thicker than Brie. Really good! Great flavor
  • Governor’s Cheddar- good, dry cheddar

Mad River Distillers

  • Maple Finish Rum- tastes like whiskey to me (which in later discussions with a distiller I know, I found was actually the oak barrel taste that I associate with whiskey). The maple syrup is aged in bourbon barrels.Good flavor
  • First Run Rum- good mixer
  • Chocolate Rye- nice, spiced, smooth100_0723

Vermont Distillers

  • Metcalf’s Raspberry Liqueur- good, tastes like raspberry jam. Would be great added to other drinks, or even a splash in sprite
  • Metcalf’s Vermont Maple Liqueur- Really good. Mark said it could be his new skiing coffee mixer.

 

100_0724 100_0761 We stopped by their tasting room at Hogback Mountain Scenic Overlook on the ride home, but they were not present. We assumed their staff was at the festival.

Vermont Spirits

  • Vermont Gold Vodka- not too much of a burn. Distilled from maple syrup.
  • No 14 Bourbon Whiskey- Mark really liked; they suggested adding water to a glass of whiskey to make the flavors open up

Mother Myrik’s Confectionary

Had their Buttercrunch to sample. Really delicious! It is handmade and made with Cabot Creamery butter.

 

Saxtons River Distillery

  • Vermont Maple Liqueur- good, although somewhat harsh going down
  • Vermont Maple Bourbon Whiskey- Mark tried, he said it was good, but “weird” because the maple flavor is different
  • Perc Coffee Liqueur- tastes just like coffee

Comment made by Mark:

“There’s a lot of maple and cider stuff in Vermont.”

Everywhere we looked, there was maple flavored stuff or cider!

Shelburne Vineyard

Tasting:

  • Louise Swenson- driest of the whites. Not too dry, it had a nice pucker to it
  • Riesling- Mark “that’s good.” Me- dry Riesling, not typical for me.
  • Lakeview White- semidry blend
  • Marquette- dry red. Hybrid grape with pinot noir. I actually liked this one, which surprised me. Mark also enjoyed.
  • Harvest Widows Revenge- semisweet red. Best served chilled. Mark and I really enjoyed.

100_0727  100_0726  100_0725

North Branch Vineyard

Tasting:

  • Frontenac Gris- dry white. Nice flavor to it, white peach and citrus. Liked it!
  • Miss Maeve- red raspberries. Not strong raspberry flavor, dry rose. Not sweet like you would expect.
  • Traminette- semidry. Similar to a dry Riesling. Rose petal and grapefruit. Mark liked.
  • Lacrescent- semisweet. Intense sweet apricot. Liked it, it is a different flavor
  • Marquette- oaked. Dry, black pepper and cherries. Like it, sweet, although it doesn’t intend to be.
  • Marechal Foch- dry blackberries. We both actually enjoyed this wine, although we tend to not like dry wines (guess our tastes are changing!)

Comment by Mark:

“I think we’re spoiled by Lukes.”

Lukes Liquors, located on the South Shore of Massachusetts in Rockland, hosting a wine tasting twice a year. The cost is $5, and for that price you get a wine glass, booklet, pen, small bites, and the opportunity to taste more than 100 different wineries.

Fresh Tracks Farm

We had to pick 3 each to try

  • American White- Mark tried, it was alright
  • Vermont Rose- I tried, it was ok
  • Vermont Apple Wine- semidry, juicy apple juice front. Refreshing finish. Good apple wine- you don’t see many apple wines that aren’t ice wines, so it makes it to be a more affordable way to enjoy
  • 2011 La Crescent- Mark enjoyed, and later went back for a larger sample (1 ticket for a larger pour)
  • 2011 Frontenac Gris- I tried and really enjoyed. Good amount of sweetness. I went back for a larger sample later.

Crowley Cheese

Had to try this cheese due to it being a family name.

  • Unusually Sharp- soooo good!
  • Chive- really good!

Yum! Understood the high prices, but would have purchased if it were less expensive for what they had left when we got there100_0638 100_0730

Whetstone Ciderworks

Told us their ciders were as “dry as any other cider on the market” and “a food friendly product.”

Our tasting:

  • Orchard Queen- dry, crisp, refreshing
  • Barnyard Blend- more rustic, English Farmhouse style. I enjoyed this one more than the Orchard Queen
  • Orchard King- most carbonated of all. Mark enjoyed
  • Whetstone Reserve- a different flavor. Mark enjoyed

Grandview Winery

Our tasting:

  • Pear Wine- Eastern States Wine Convention “double gold” and “best in show.” We both thought it was really good
  • Cranberry Wine- Ok, have had other cranberry wines that I have enjoyed more (such as those from Plymouth MA!)
  • Mac Jack Hard Cider- fresh grown Vermont apples, carbonated
  • Strawberry Rhubarb- nose picks up strawberry, then mouth picks up rhubarb
  • Raspberry Apple Wine- great nose. Nice and refreshing. Great combination. This is the bottle we left with, which was enjoyed with our Grafton Village 3 year Cheddar Cheese by the campfire.

On Sunday, we packed up and set off towards home mid-morning, making a stop on the way at Honora Winery. Look for that post soon!

Want to go to the 7th Annual Vermont Life Wine and Harvest Festival? Look here for more information as the time gets closer.

Due to the nature of our visit (it being a festival), there is not a huge amount of detail for many of the wineries. Since it was a festival, they are all still on our list to visit.

 

100_0732  100_0731