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Mead: Tha ale of wine

Danielle Horvath - August 24th, 2009
Mead: The “Ale of Wine”
combines honey & cherries

By Danielle Horvath 8/24/09

Mead -- made from local honey and cherries and formulated with green tea, hops and spices -- is making its debut at several area establishments. Hand-crafted in Lake Ann, it is like a wine cooler, but not as sweet or artificial tasting, and packs more punch.
Bruce Grossman, Acoustic Brewing Company owner, musician and zymurgist (one who takes care of fermentation), landed on the product after years of brewing beer and decided to experiment with mead, or honey-wine. Grossman began with small batches over the past several years. He has a small circle of friends and family that tried it and understood what he was going for.
The end result is Acoustic Cherry Draft Mead, a honey-cherry wine that is fermented and flavored with natural fruit and spices, carbonated and served chilled. “I wanted something quaffable like a beer but made out of wine. It’s the closest I could come to making beer under a wine license. I call it ‘the ale of wine.’”
Grossman originally was going to pursue opening a small microbrewery but along the way saw the advantage of a wine maker’s license as opposed to a brewery. He purchased brewing equipment a few years ago and went about converting his garage into a home-based business.

“The regulations in Michigan on micro-breweries prohibit self-distribution and do not allow for an off-site retail store,” he says. “That puts a stranglehold on start-up entrepreneurs. In my opinion, it is an antiquated, over-lobbied system of regulation that should be changed.”
He also realized that there is a lot of great beer already being brewed in the area, but saw an opportunity for experimenting with wine-based drinks.
“I experimented a lot in the kitchen with hard ciders, perry (cider made from pears,) and fruit wines. Honey is a natural preservative, requires no special refrigeration and has great healing qualities. It lacks acid, so to balance that, I added local tart cherries which are naturally acidic and balanced it with hops and green tea to get the tannins,” Grossman says.
Draft mead is available at a few establishments around the area, including the Mayfair Tavern in Elberta, the Betsie Bay Inn in Frankfort, the Loading Dock in Traverse City, the Village Inn in Empire, Mistwood Golf Course in Beulah, and O’Keefe’s in Suttons Bay. A nice touch is the use of mini-guitars for tap-pulls on the draft product, which have been a hit with bar owners and customers alike.
Grossman is planning to begin bottling the product this fall, and it will be available in limited supply at some area retail stores. For more information, contact him at 231-883-2012 or check out the website at

All About Mead

Mead or honey-wine is the oldest adult beverage on the planet, older than wine made from grapes.
Mead comes in a dazzling array of flavors, depending on the type of honey, the brewing process used, and the added things like fruit, herbs, spices, even peppers.
Great quantities of mead were made and drunk during the 1,000 or so years from the fall of the Roman Empire to the Reformation.
The importance of using good-quality water was also recognized early, and many old recipes call for rainwater. In medieval Russia, snow was often used.
The national drink of Ethiopia is T’ej, a golden sweet honey-wine; it is made in private homes for family consumption and is not sold commercially. Each household has its own family recipe and variations in taste result from the type of honey used, temperature, climate, materials and utensils and the time involved.

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