This is a guest post from Sean Hertzsch. Sean is a bourbon and beer guy that really likes wine. He avoids vodka as much as possible, but gin makes him happy. He likes to think of himself as a well rounded drinker, but we will see what happens at the end of the night. Sean blogs at http://minguswaits.com
Brothers Drake is not your average Meadery. Yes, they are making a glorious alcoholic concoction of yeast and honey, but they are not satisfied with just average Mead. They are bringing the traditions of yore up to date with local ingredients and challenging your palette with flavors beyond the sweet syrupy drinks you are used to with commercial meads. Although there are some sweet Meads from these two local geniuses, they are not satisfied with just meeting expectations.
Brothers Drake started in 2004 with the expectation of simply creating the “nectar of kings” as learned about in the books they had been reading at the time. By the time they created their first commercial batch of mead, they realized that the potential flavors from local bounty could stimulate the palette in some pretty spectacular ways. Although they limit themselves to ingredients found mostly in central Ohio, they do not limit themselves in the directions they can turn.
To expand their offerings and increase production, Brothers Drake moved into their current location on 5th street, just East of High. This new facility is bright and spacious with plenty of room for their 500 gallon vats. It is open and non-pretentious with concrete floors and huge garage doors to provide air and light. I can’t emphasize how gorgeous it was to be in the Brothers Drake facility with all the air flow and bright sunshine on a beautiful Friday late afternoon.
The walls of Brothers Drake Meadery are covered with the works of local artists and the only convention to your standard drinking establishment is the oddly shaped wooden bar that is the primary focus of your attention upon entering. The design of the bar was taken from west coast establishments where large round outcroppings are common. These “outcroppings” promote the idea of drinking in a social manner as many people can crowd around them and still have access to both the bartender and each other without yelling for either. I will say, however, that there seems to be a dramatic lack of seating in this location. Expect to be standing through most of your experience when you go.
Brothers Drake has several Meads available to taste and have even created a great pricing guide for you to try several of their most popular styles. You’ll pay between $5.75 – $9 a glass, or you can have the sampler with 4 different meads for $10 or 6 meads for $16. They also offer a special with full glasses of all meads for $40. Bottles to take with you range from $17.50 – $28.00 and for the quality, you are really getting a bargain. (They are currently low on stock after the move so some of their offerings are unavailable at this time.)
Here are my impressions of the meads I tried:
- Honey Oak: This is a woody and dry mead. With floral characteristics and a definite note of butter that is present with any wine that has been aged with oak.
- Hopped Traditional: This lovely metheglin has that definite spicy flavor found in any hoppy beverage (see IPA for the best example) yet has a strong honey component. This is perhaps my favorite of the Mead offerings from Brothers Drake
- Bergamot Blue: This is the flagship offering from Brothers Drake a semi dry Mead that is fruity and spicy, with a bright flavor and rose coloring. I recommend the oldest vintage they have of this as the flavors tend to deepen with age.
- VO: This offering is spicy with hints of vanilla and cedar. I could see having this mead with a very fatty fish. There is a definite fresh apple overture to this mead and the un-place-able flavor you detect would be the rooibos tea they have used to boost the vanilla notes. The V-O stands for “Vanilla Orange”
- Pillow Talk: This mead was offered in two forms, young and old. The young mead was bright with a little apple flavor and a kind of big cherry flavor. Maybe even a little cidery if you ask me. The older vintage had much the same characteristics but with a more woody flavor. It has kind of cedar or oaken overtures but very smooth and spicy. I prefer the younger Pillow Talk, but if you like darker aspects in your beverages, the older vintage is for you.
- Apple Pie: This is the piece de resistance for Brothers Drake. Made with freshly squeezed apple juice, this mead has a spicy flavor with lots of cinnamon and nutmeg. Putting this glass to your nose, you get a graham cracker note along with the caramel apple scent that is so provocative.
If any of this sounds half as awesome to you as it did to me, you need to make your way to Brothers Drake. If you want to make some mead, go talk to Eric or Woody. They want to spread the mead gospel to everyone. Oron, the Owner and General Manager of Brothers Drake, is trying to bring the glory of fair trade to all of us. They have some pretty revolutionary ideas as to how to promote community in their business. Right now they are concocting a scheme to bring a local home Meader and a local artist into their fold with some kind of competition to produce a commercial version of a Columbus Mead recipe. Stay tuned for more!
Brothers Drake was featured on NPR on 5/1/11 – check out the article.