You may have found yourself enjoying a beer at one of Michigan’s many craft breweries or perhaps stopping by a winery for a glass of red – but have you tried a sweet sip of Michigan mead?
“Mead is a fermented beverage made from honey,” says Ken Schramm of Schramm’s Mead in Ferndale. Similar to wine, which is made from fruit, mead is made by combining honey, water and fresh fruit. Next comes the fermentation process.
“It’s really a matter of us waiting for the mead to tell us when it’s done,” Schramm says. “Sometimes they can take more than a year.”
Schramm’s Mead opened in September 2013, when Schramm took his hobby of homebrewing to the next level. He and some friends had previously founded The Mazer Cup International Mead Competition – now a must-attend among mead makers – and he also wrote a book, The Compleat Meadmaker, which took off and boosted his popularity in the industry.
Currently, Schramm’s is planting an orchard that includes goose-berries, raspberries and red currants so they can use their own fresh fruit for mead. While that’s in process, local fruit is sourced from other Michigan growers when possible, including King Orchards in Central Lake and Shoreline Fruit, a grower-owned company in Williamsburg.
Schramm says that honey is a bit harder to source locally, since they use an excessive amount, but they always try to keep it within the country and support U.S. beekeepers.
“We have really high standards for our mead, so the ingredients need to be spectacular,” he says.
While Schramm’s Mead is one of the most well-known meaderies in Michigan, Schramm says that mead’s popularity within the beverage industry over the past several years has been incredible.
“It’s an uphill battle, but we work hard to help educate people about mead,” he says. “I always ask people how much they know about mead. It used to be one in 10 people that knew something, now it’s like one in three in terms of awareness. Mead is where craft beer was 15 years ago, and I really believe it’s continuing to have the same trajectory where awareness keeps growing.”