What’s something both wine aficionados and craft beer nerds can agree on? Mead is the next big thing.
Mead (or honey wine) is the fastest growing alcohol type in terms of production numbers – there are now around 250 meaderies in the country. Iowa’s first meadery – Buzzed Bee Meadery near Melbourne - is ready to capitalize on this growing popularity.
Buzzed Bee’s story begins a few years ago when head mead maker, Wayne Spohnheimer, started beekeeping as a hobby. Soon, he had more honey than he knew what to do with – so he thought, why not ferment it? That started the ball rolling for Wayne and his wife, Michelle.
What makes Buzzed Bee unique is that it is a homegrown, family business. The mead is made with Iowa honey (although Wayne’s bees keep him well supplied, they also use honey from another local producer) and other Iowa-grown ingredients when possible. The bee hives are located on the couple’s acreage and help keep their five-year-old son’s flower garden in bloom. The mead is fermented, bottled, and even stored in the Spohnheimer’s basement. And the tasting room and gift shop are in a renovated portion of their home.
Are you wondering what mead tastes like? Mead is made of fermented honey, water and yeast. In addition to two “traditional” mead styles, Buzzed Bee also has several varietals – like their Sweet Bee Lemon Mead (their bestseller), Aronia Berry Mead, Goji Goodness Mead, and Chocolate Stinger Mead (it’s like sipping a chocolate bar!). Wayne loves playing with flavors and has several more in the works – like Blackberry Ginger and Sweet Heat (flavored with jalapenos).
Mead is truly in its own category of alcohol – it’s definitely not carbonated like a beer, it doesn’t have the acidity of wine and there is no “burn” like other liquors. Buzzed Bee’s meads hover around 12.5% alcohol.
Buzzed Bee Meadery is open Thursdays (4-7 p.m.) and Saturdays (12-5 p.m.).