LANCASTER, N.Y. (WIVB) – A longtime hobby blossomed into Erie County’s first commercial meadery when Lilly Belle Meads opened on West Main Street in 2017.

Owners Joe and Patricia Marshall had both been making mead for many years before they opened shop.

“We wanted to do something different that was unique to Buffalo and Western New York,” Patricia said. “We really wanted to bring Western New York honey and a meadery to the area- something that was kind of like craft beer, but with a little bit of a different spin to it.”

The operation started out of their basement about four years ago, Joe added.

“We were licensed, making small batches, doing farmers markets,” he said.

Mead is an alcoholic beverage made with fermented honey.

A traditional mead is a sweet honey wine, Patricia explained, but the meads at Lilly Belle vary in dryness/sweetness and flavor.

“We have a profile of meads that taste like beers- we also have meads that are fruity-forward,” she explained. “Some of the flavors are more robust and forward- not all are sweets, we play with the different sweetness levels.”

What’s the mead a first-timer to Lilly Belle has to try?

“We usually recommend our ‘Honey and Hops’ (9.8 ABV) – it’s our flagship mead,” Joe said. “It’s very dry but nice and citrusy.”

Also recommended is ‘Bobby’ (13.5 ABV).

“It’s made with a very dark caramelized honey- it’s got sweet bourbon/toasted marshmallow flavor,” Joe said.

Lilly Belle has a “three Bobby limit” per person per visit due to its high ABV, but Bobby and other varieties of mead are able to be taken home in a bottle or growler.

The best way to sample out the different meads available is in a flight.

“You can try all the different styles- it’s a great way to jump in there,” Patricia said.

Cocktails are also available, like “Beez Kneez”, made with Black Button Distilling Citrus-Forward gin, honey lemon syrup, and ginger ale.

Lilly Belle Meads is a New York State Farm Meadery, meaning that all of its honey comes from New York State.

The honey at Lilly Belle is sourced even more locally- all of it comes from Western New York.

The Marshalls are beekeepers themselves.

“We do encourage any local beekeeper to let us know if they have excess honey because we do source only from Western New York,” Patricia said.

Since it’s a NYS Farm Brewery, Lilly Belle is also able to offer braggot, a beer/mead hybrid.

Lilly Belle is adding a brewery operation this spring. Joe says the beer lineup will focus on dark beers.

“I’m very happy to actually be making beer,” Joe said. “For me, it’s the best of both worlds- I get to make mead and brewing beer is what I started doing, so it’s like going back home.”

Lilly Belle Meads is located at 11 W. Main St. in the Village of Lancaster.

Hours are as follows:

Sunday-Tuesday: closed

Wednesday-Thursday: 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Friday: 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Saturday: noon to 10 p.m.

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