For some, the word “mead” may conjure up images of medieval feasts.
At Queen City Meadery, 290 Center Road in Buffalo, you can enjoy the ancient, honey-based beverage in a more modern setting.
QCM opened in December. It’s a collaboration between three lifelong friends- Rob Schweizer, Ken Voelker, and Brian Bookmiller- who took up meadmaking as a hobby.
“Rob and Brian and I, we started to look for a hobby we could all share,” Voelker, co-owner and vice president of sales, said. “We actually started brewing beer together and then we started making mead together.”
Mead- made with honey, water, and yeast- is believed to be the world’s oldest alcoholic beverage.
“It’s known as the oldest drink,” Schweizer, chief meadmaker and vice president, said. “What they think happened was people would gather up honey because it tasted so great and take it back to their camps- water would get into it and then airborne yeast would get into it and ferment it into alcohol.”
The process for creating mead involves mixing honey and water and adding yeast, as well as whatever fruits, hops or spices the variety calls for.
“We mix the honey and get it to a gravity that we want it- that’s the sugar level,” Schweizer said. “We get the yeast ready, prepare the yeast, and throw it in when it’s the right temperature.”
QCM mead is made with Dutch Gold Honey in Pennsylvania. Most of the juices used come from Walker’s Wine Juice in Forestville.
Full-strength mead- which is about the same ABV percentage as wine- takes about three months to be ready. QCM also creates session meads, which are around seven percent ABV and are ready in a month.
Although honey is the primary ingredient in mead, its sweetness level varies from very dry to dessert level, Schweizer said.
“After you stabilize mead, you can add more honey in or more juice- you can make the sweetness level whatever you want,” he said.
QCM brews a variety of flavors of mead for any palate including “Ebenezer Lemon Squeezer” with black tea, orange blossom honey and lemon mead, “Screaming Wench” with wildflower honey, raspberry and cranberry, and “Mary Queen of Hops”, made with IPA-level hops.
“Each one has its own character and a different experience for the customer,” Schweizer said.
Customers can sample meads in a flight or by the glass. Bottles are also available to take home.
Voelker said they will begin self-distributing to bars and restaurants starting in December with Hatchets and Hops.
With only a few meaderies in Western New York, mead is still a relatively new beverage for some.
“It’s been really good,” Voelker said. “It’s an educational experience- a lot of people are learning what mead is.”
Queen City Meadery’s hours are as follows:
Sunday to Tuesday : Closed
Wednesday: 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Thursday: 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Friday: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Saturday: 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.
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