Though popular in the medieval days of Viking quests and kings and queens, the demand for mead slowly dwindled over the past several centuries. When Meridian Hive Meadery first began five years ago, co-founder Mike Simmons said there were only four other establishments in Texas brewing the alcoholic beverage made from fermenting honey, and they were all marketed toward Renaissance festivalgoers.
That type of mead more closely resembled a white wine—smooth, bottled and corked. In order to release mead from its medieval stigma and into a more casual drinking scene, Simmons and fellow co-founder Eric Lowe decided to carbonate their product, package it in 12-ounce cans and call it “draft mead.” Simmons said it was the first of its kind.
“People usually get their exposure to mead through literature, Renaissance fairs or homebrewing,” Simmons said. “We make a clean, approachable version of it. You don’t have to be wearing a kilt or a Viking helmet to drink this stuff.”
Although the ancient drink dates back several thousand years, the Austin meadery has blazed the trail for mead to reach the general public, Simmons said.
The lack of accessible gluten-free alternatives to beer was a problem to be solved in social drinking scene, Simmons said. In the fermented honey concoction, the two former engineers said they found an opportunity.
Simmons said he wants people to know that mead is just another alcoholic beverage made with a different type of sugar. Although fermenting the sugar from grapes makes wine, mead’s fermentation process uses honey.
Five years in, Simmons said the business is growing. Meridian Hive Meadery has a core of eight products—five draft mead cans and three non-carbonated bottled beverages—which can be found in liquor stores and restaurants not only in Austin, but also in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, central Florida, Oregon and Southern California. Simmons said Meridian is also looking to expand to North Carolina, Colorado and New York in the near future.
Alcohol is produced through the conversion of yeast and sugar, a process known as fermentation. For example, breaking down the sugar in honey, apples, barley and grapes makes mead, cider, beer and wine, respectively.
Meridian Hive Meadery
8120 Exchange Drive,
Ste. 400, Austin
Tasting room hours: Fri. 5-8 p.m., Sat. 2-7 p.m.