A couple of months ago, we shared our discovery of Alberta wineries and in tune with barbecue season, we will have a closer look at their beverages to give ideas on pairing alternatives to the usual beers and grape wines. To begin the series, we present the first licensed Alberta mead maker, Chinook Arch Meadery.
Chinook Arch Meadery was founded 11 years ago, in 2007, by Art and Cherie Andrews, bee enthusiasts and artful wine makers. It was a logical expansion to their already well-established Chinook Honey Company, which started as a stress-reliever for Art back in 1995, when he was an airline pilot.
Two hives of bees grew to several, providing the company with material to create various products, such as jams & spreads, skin care & ointments and candles. And of course, honey of different tastes, honey comb, bee pollen and anything honey bee related are also available at the store.
We were most excited about the meads that were brewed here so we went for a look….okay…. really for a taste. Meeting “Queen Bee”, Cherie, with her encyclopedic narrative of bees, nectar collections and meads, was a delight. We even watched the grooming and fussing over the real Queen Bee of the apiary through the observatory (picture). By the way, did you know that all the workers are female?! No wonder they know how to make the queen happy, catering to her every need and whim. Thanks to these buzzing hard workers we are able to enjoy natural and healthy products.
Back to the meads…. Cherie’s hospitality afforded us tastes of the three types of meads, many award winners that are fermented at Chinook Arch: traditional, melomel and metheglin. Traditional meads are fermented with just the basic ingredients of honey, yeast and water though tantalizing undertones of florals, citrus, fruits, caramel and smoky shine through. These tastes are results of the reaction of the honey used, influenced by the nectar that the bees collect, to the yeast. Below are traditional meads that would go beautifully with your barbecue fare. Their frolicsome labels add to their nicely agreeable taste on the palate.
King Athur’s Dry (12.5% alc./vol)
Goes well with poultry, fish and gouda. It is a crisp and dry mead made from alfalfa and clover honey.
Melissa’s Gold (12.5% alc./vol)
Goes well with spicy food and medium aged cheese. It has floral tones and it is made from alfalfa and clover honey.
Guinevere’s Elixir (12.5% alc./vol)
Goes well with fish, poultry or pork. It has a citrus nose, floral notes and off-dry finish, made from a mixture of honeys.
Asgard’s Ambrosia (13.5% alc./vol)
Goes well with smoked meats, aged cheese and beef. It has an earthy toasted caramel flavour with a lingering smoky finish, made from aromatic Alberta honey.
John Cameron classic (13.1% alc./vol)
Goes well with seasoned poultry or pork. It has a floral nose, is silky smooth and has a light apricot finish.
Buckaroo Buckwheat (13.1% alc./vol)
Goes well with spicy beef and well-aged cheese. It has a smoky flavour, like light cognac, made from buckwheat and alfalfa honey.
Next lively melomels, mead infused with fruits, played with our tastebuds.
Bodacious Black Currant (12.5% alc./vol)
Goes well with dark chocolate and mild cheese. It has a light fruity taste, made with locally grown black currants.
Black & Blue (12.8% alc./vol)
Goes well with fruit and pastries. It is made with a mixed of black currants and sweet blueberries. This is great as a before dinner sipper, or dessert finisher or patio partner.
Cherry Mi Amor (12.5% alc./vol)
Goes well with sharp cheese, pastries and dark chocolate. It has a rich, full flavour made with Alberta Evans cherries.
Finally, the tasting ended with some curious metheglins, spiced mead. Of this variety, we tasted the Bochet – Ginger, mead made with toasted honey and spices from a 14th century recipe with infused ginger. We thought the spices would overpower the mead but the blending was actually impressive.
Fire ‘n Spice (12.4% alc./vol)
Goes well with fruits, nuts and mild cheese. Served warm, it makes a great as warmer upper during winter.
Bochet – Vanilla (12% alc./vol)
Goes well with desserts. It tastes of roasted marshmallows, caramel and a hint of apricot.
Bochet – Ginger (12% alc./vol)
Goes well with desserts. It tastes of roasted marshmallows and caramel with a ginger finish.
As with any liquor, you can get adventurous with mead. Here, you will find Chinook Arch Meadery’s cocktail concoctions. This summer Chinook Arch will be launching their new wine, Summer Sassation made with Saskatoon berries!