Perhaps the only place in the world where you can use the words cool and hot, chillin’ and lovin’ alternately in one breath is the city of San Francisco. With a “summer-cool” climate all year-round, beach-bumming is an infinite rave in the Bay Area, tempered only by the other obsession San Francisco is mighty proud of: their wines and beverages.
Such fluidity and openness in lifestyle and outlook make San Francisco the perfect place to re-introduce the centuries-old mead, an alcoholic beverage made out of fermented honey. The SF Mead Company dived boldly into the fray and positioned mead as the latest rave in wines and spirits. And true to character, the fun-loving folks of the San Francisco Bay Area readily embraced mead as an adventurous, intriguing, great-tasting beverage.
Flashback to history: chilly winds sweeping Scandinavia and Northern Europe inspired the Vikings to make an extraordinary drink that required nothing else but wild honey and water using the traditional process of fermentation. What they made was mead – loved forever by royalties and commoners, toasted among the doyens of the Golden Ages, among soldiers through many wars, among the innovators in peacetime, and today, among the game-changers.
And it is in San Francisco and the greater California area where many game-changers choose to be enlivened by the spirit of mead. Or so Sarah and Oron Benary, owners of the SF Mead Company, believe. Their modest meadery down at Shafter Avenue produces one of the best-tasting meads in town. They source the honey from a friend who is an expert in honey bee harvesting. Honey is fermented right at the meadery for at least 12 months, and a little special ingredient is thrown in: toasted wood chips. That gives SF Mead Company’s bottled products a unique, smoky flavor just enough to highlight the dry, sweet-taste of fermented honey spiked with 14 percent ABV.
Innately adventurous, the couple likes to experiment on the flavors for their mead, trying out spices and fruits to complement the sweetness of honey. One of the best-sellers is their cyser, or what they call Apple Pie, made from fermented juice of organic apples, laced with spices and of course honey. Other flavors to rave for are the Orange Blossom mead and the fantastic California Gold.
Try visiting the SF Mead Company meadery to sample some of their best-tasting meads, but be warned, they are only open on Saturdays from 12-6pm for sales and tours. Alternatively, SF Mead is available in many stores, bars and restaurants around the Bay Area.