Miami Brewers Try Their Hand at Mead

There is a mead movement happening in Miami.

In a city where craft beer has taken hold, local brewers are now making considerable quantities of the fermented honey drink known as mead.

Mead consumption predates written history. Early Neolithic jars found in China with traces of rice, honey, and fruit date as far back as 5500 B.C. Today, the sweet beverage is gaining popularity with a new generation of brewers. Meads generally fall into four broad categories, according to the Beer Judge Certification Program: fruited meads, spiced, traditional, and experimental.

Nick Armada of CerveTech began whipping up batches of homebrewed suds years ago and is trying his hand with mead. Armada makes melomels (a mead made with any kind of fruit) along with hyrdomels (lighter meads brewed with a higher water content). These meads are generally lower in gravity/alcohol percentage, he says. Next month, Armada plans to pour a couple of kegs of his mead at Vicky's House, the Coconut Grove milkshake shop adjacent to Lokal.

Out in Westchester, Chris Gil is going all in with mead. In the two years Gil has been fermenting honey, he's already made eight or nine different styles using a five-gallon setup at home.

Some of his favorites include a pyment, a melomel made with grapes; Freya, a hibiscus mead named after a Norse god; and a metheglin, or spiced mead, which Gil say is popular. He sources his honey in Homestead and whips up five-gallon batches to share at local events, like the Miami Beer Festival held each January.

Gil got his start with craft beer at DaddyBrews and then Miami Brewing Company, which offers rotating flavors of meads made with tropical fruits at its Homestead taproom.

Now he's trying to start Allfather Meadery in Miami. From the reactions of people he's experienced drinking his mead, the beverage is turning out to be a pleasant departure from craft beer.

"[Mead is] a great beverage for someone who wants something different," Gill says. "There's so many different ways you can drink it."

Out in West Kendall, on a quarter-acre plot of land, Scott Stebbins sources honey right from his backyard. Stebbins' first love was making beer. Then he started making mead with honey bought from Publix. Eventually the 42-year-old Miami native wants to go pro and build a place where he can make his three favorite things: mead, beer, and barbecue.

Stebbins' three beehives produce about 150 pounds of raw, unfiltered honey twice each year, with his bees gathering pollen from backyards throughout the neighborhood. "When the flow's on," Stebbins says about his bees, "they can make a lot of freakin' honey, man. It's amazing."

Miami Brewing Co. 30205 SW 217th Ave, Homestead; 305-242-1224; miamibrewing.org. Monday through Thursday noon to 6 p.m., Fridays noon to 11 p. m., Saturday noon to 11 p.m., Sunday noon to 6 p.m.

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