Saturday, April 27, 2013

All You Mead is Honey

Brother’s Drake Meadery & Bar

If you are not familiar with the alcoholic beverage classified as mead don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many are unaware of this ancient liquid made with fermented honey and water and are surprised to discover it is the oldest form of alcohol, dating back tens of thousands of years. Although this tasty drink has somewhat been left in the prehistoric dust, mead is making a triumphant comeback in Central Ohio thanks to local gem Brother’s Drake Meadery & Bar, where they are taking local far beyond honey.

To understand how Brother’s Drake Meadery established themselves as the local hangout in the Short North we need to turn back the clock several years. As the story goes, a little over a decade ago the Drake brothers, Woody and Eric, met Oron Benary at Schiller Park in historic German Village. The entrepreneurial brothers were home brewers who dabbled in experimenting with various fermented beverages. They knew they had stumbled upon something unique when they brewed a honey based concoction reminiscent of the current Apple Pie mead being sold at Brothers Drake today. As their friendship with Oron grew, the brothers were able to persuade him into investing in their new mead business based on the attention they were getting from the apple-pie-in-a-glass drink they had created. They moved into a modest space in Worthington and several years passed as they tried to figure out how to make this relatively unknown drink more popular in Columbus. The brothers, familiar with Oron’s successful corporate background, again approached him for help in marketing their mead. Although his feelings of becoming heavily involved with the company were someone ambivalent, Oron took over the business and became the main owner of Brothers Drake, while Woody and Eric remained silent partners.

Today Brothers Drake Meadery & Bar is run by Oron and his wife Sarah Jones. Sarah is responsible for discovering the bars current location where they have been serving up local honey filled spirits for the last two years. After moving into the new space, they brought on Eric Allen as General Manager and decided they wanted to offer more than just mead to the local community. I met up with Eric and he explained to me that part of the process of making mead is waiting the 8-12 months for it to age before it can be bottled. The current bar, that carries other local Ohio spirits, came into existence mainly because it keeps things rolling while the mead is aging. Eric offered to walk me through the process of making the Apple Pie mead that got it all started. Apple Pie is made once a year, when apples are at the peak of season in Rushville, Ohio. At the local orchard, Eric works with the farmer to press fresh fruit into sweet cider. The cider is then transported back to the meadery where it is mixed with honey, water, and yeast and finished with the spices cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove before aging at least a year to develop its flavor profile. In fact, after you pick up a few bottles of your own, Brothers Drake suggests that you hold on to one or two for a few years to allow the favors to mellow. When it is ready to be imbibed the mead has between a 13-14% ABV (Alcohol By Volume), is sans sulfites, and is naturally gluten free! The basic recipe of honey, water and yeast is the foundation of their mead, however their unique combinations of added fruit and spices is what makes Brothers Drake mead different than all the rest. It is important to them to use local Ohio honey (25,000 pounds last year alone!) and source local Ohio fruit from destinations such as The Blueberry Patch, Integration Acres, and Jorgensen Farms.

It is important to Brothers Drake to buy, make, and sell only local Ohio products. Eric echoed, “Everything we do here is from Ohio, period”. If you reside outside of Columbus, the only way of getting your hands on this spirit is by stopping in and picking it up in person or finding it at a local retailer in town. Out of principle they won’t ship their products outside of Central Ohio, and they know that by keeping their resources close the end result is a better quality product. If you are unfamiliar with mead or Brothers Drake, this is a journey worth taking. I suggest stopping in for Sunday brunch, belling up to the bar, and sampling one of their amazing cocktails like The Courtland - a combination of Apple Pie Mead and OYO Whiskey. Follow it up with a 3pm tour (given on Saturdays and Sundays) and stay to listen to one of the ever rotating selection of soon-to-be-famous local musicians wail into the night. Brothers Drake is open to letting the community use their space, and through their help with local organizations and musicians more and more patrons are becoming aware of this local hot spot.

Mead

The Brother’s Drake mead (pictured left) traveled 0 miles to Columbus, while the mead (pictured right) is distributed by a domestic company in Redding, CT 600 miles away and made in Billund, Denmark thousands of miles from Columbus!

References

Mead Made Complicated

Mead Soaked Strawberry Sponge Cake

I used Brothers Drake Wild Ohio Mead, but feel free to experiment with other flavors.

Click on the recipe cards to print your copy:

1 Comment:

Rosie @ Blueberry Kitchen said...

I love the sound of your cake and it looks absolutely gorgeous!

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