It was considered the nectar of the gods. But for Colorado mead makers Fred Strothman and David Myers, honey-based wines are not merely a pleasurable drink but also a liquid profit.
Mead, the drink of Beowulf and Shakespeare, is making a comeback as adventurous drinkers move beyond craft-brewed beers and grape-based wines.
It was grapes, or rather the lack of them, that got Strothman, a retired administrative law judge, interested in mead making when he moved to Grand Junction in the early 1990's.
Strothman planned on opening a winery, but ran into a little problem.
"I tried to buy grapes locally to start my winemaking, but no one wanted to sell to me since I was a (future) competitor."
Cut off from a ready supply of grapes, Strothman looked for another business opportunity and began Rocky Mountain Meadery while he waited for his own vineyard to mature. Eventually he developed his own harvest and opened St. Kathryn Cellars as well as his meadery.
David Myers began home-brewing beer in 1989 and discovered mead in 1992 courtesy of Charlie Papazian, the founder of the Boulder-based American Homebrewers Association. One taste of Papazian's prickly-pear mead and Myers was hooked.
"I knew mead from my degree in English, but had not had the pleasure of enjoying the 'nectar of the gods' until that time," Myers said. "Basically my home beer making turned to home mead making."
After 10 years, Myers was ready to move from home to commercial mead production, and he opened Redstone Meadery in Boulder.
Both Strothman and Myers offer traditional honey-fermented mead as well as fruit-flavored honey meads featuring flavors such as black raspberry, peaches, boysenberry or apricot, Some of their meads are still (meaning uncarbonated), while some are...