Every now and then Left Hand Brewing out of Longmont posts photos of the offerings for their bi-monthly Ales4FemAles classes. They usually make me drool. At the beginning of August they posted the photos of this months class, focusing on meads. I knew I had to make it to the next one. My partner in beer crime, Lavelle and I logged on and purchased the $11 tickets online a couple weeks before the event. We showed up the night of to a taproom full of women, one of which had a clip board with a list and a stamp that declares you were there for Ales4FemAles.
With the room already set up, we ordered a beer and waited to be able to head to our tables. I sipped on a 400 lbs Monkey while dreaming of all the delicious fermented honey I was about to imbibe in. When we were let into the room for the class, it was set up beautifully. We chose a table front and center and sat with a few veterans of Ales4FemAles, and another newbie who was brought along by her sister and was not a fan of beer, but eager to try mead. Each place setting had 3 glasses already poured; 2 of mead and one mead-mosa. There were also 3 small pairings to go along with the drinks. I was pretty disappointed in the food offerings, which were a sugar cookie, a couple mini frozen pancakes with marmalade, and 3 grapes. Yes, THREE whole entire grapes. I was confused by the pancake choice. I can’t even get toddlers I nanny to eat those pieces of processed cardboard.
The mead on the other hand, was impressive. The mead-mosa was made with Black Raspberry Nectar from Redstone Meadery out of Boulder and mixed with blood orange juice. I have had this mead before, a melomel (mead with fruit) style, but it was hard for me to detect its sweet flavors mixed with the juice. I am guessing the ratios were off, as the Redstone site suggests “2 parts Nectar to 1 part juice”. Another mead from Redstone, which I can only assume was the Nectar of the Hops, was next. I say assume because there was very little information provided on what were drinking, just that it was a hop infused mead from Redstone. No names, no ABV, no ingredients, etc. I could smell the hops as soon as I lifted the glass to my nose, but the taste was not what you would expect if you are used to hoppy beers. The sweetness from the honey over powered any bitterness from the hops, but they still gave the mead an earthy finish.
The final mead was a 6 year aged mead provided by Bill and Matt, veterans of mead making. This one was hot! The alcohol smell and taste was very obvious, but balanced nicely with the sweetness when drank. There was an aroma I was getting that I couldn’t quite place, until Bill mentioned that this specific mead was a pyment, meaning it also had grape juice as an ingredient. This mead had grapes that typically would be used to make a Riesling wine, and that was exactly the smell I was getting that I couldn’t put my finger on at first. Out of the 3, this one was my favorite.
Bill and Matt were also our presenters for the evening. The prepared a very informative packet for us to take home that discussed styles, history and process of making mead. They did an excellent job speaking to us about their passion for mead. As I had just done a talk on the history of beer in relation to women, it was interesting to hear the history and evolution of mead. Many ancient beers were sweetened or fermented with honey, so you could consider them one in the same. They also explained how the process of making mead is much easier than making beer. Essentially, it is just mixing honey and water, with boiling being optional, and adding in some yeast. However, many meads are aged much longer than beers.
The event ended with a little talk from Lauren, who works in production at Left Hand and was hosting the event. Unfortunately, she was so soft spoken I didn’t hear a word she said despite being 6 feet in front of her. Bill and Matt pulled out a couple other meads for those still lingering to taste. I particularly enjoyed the orange blossom honey mead. A sparkling mead was well balanced, but I am not a fan of that much carbonation since I can’t burp. Heading down to Longmont for this event was worth it. I met a bunch of fun new ladies, and learned a ton about a beverage that is relatively new to me. I hope to be back next month, when they plan to discuss spicy food pairings, and I sure hope the food pairings are better than this months.