Meadieval Fest 2023
The first weekend of June we attended the 3rd Annual Meadieval Fest hosted by Nico of GStardust Cellars. This was our first experience with tasting mead. We learned a lot about meads and honey in general. Stardust Cellars has a tasting room, but the production facility is on this property and is undergoing renovations. Admission was “pay what you can''. Once the donation was made, ID checked and we received our 21 and older bracelet we were off to taste the great mead of North Carolina. There was so much to experience with meaderies giving out free samples and vendors selling crafts. We had mapped out our course to make sure we experienced everything available. We grabbed some lunch. Once we satisfied our appetite we were off to taste mead. There were 9 meaderies at the fest and we tried them all. They ranged from dry to sweet. Each meadery had its own personality.
Let’s start from the beginning. What is mead? Mead is the oldest alcoholic beverage in the world. Greeks drank a honey mixture to honor the goddess, Aphrodite, giving it the name “nectar of the gods”. It is commonly called honey wine. Even though mead shares some wine characteristics, it is in a class all by itself. Wine is made from fermented fruit, usually grapes, but you can make wine from other fruit. The juice is mixed with yeast to produce a liquid that ranges between 3-20% alcohol. Mead, instead of fruit, uses honey, mixed with water, and added yeast to cause fermentation. Mead also shares characteristics with beer, but mead doesn’t use malted grains, so again, mead is in a class by itself. Mead can be unflavored or flavored. Like wine, it can be sweet, semi-sweet, or dry. There are 3 types of flavored wine: metheglin is mead flavored with spices, melomel is mead flavored with fruit, and braggot is mead mixed with beer. In addition, mead can be bottled immediately, aged, or carbonated.
Here are just a few of the meaderies and vendors we met at the fest.
Stardust Cellars was the first place I tasted mead. We went to taste Nico’s wine, which we did but also enjoyed his meads. My favorite was his Cherry Blood. Stardust Cellars uses biodynamic farming techniques and uses local honey and fruit. Their tap room is located in North Wilkesboro. Check out the blog of our visit. Also, be sure to visit their website to see their latest releases and events. Nico is not only the owner and mezier (a person who makes mead), but he is also the president of the NC Mead Alliance.
Moonjoy Meadery, located in Lenoir, is family owned and produces small batches. They use only 100% North Carolina honey. They rotate 50 recipes in their tap room.
What did I bring home? You are sure to discover one you love. Check out their website for the latest releases.
Wehrloom Honey produces mead along with other honey-related items. We enjoyed their Cherry Sour with lime. They have a tasting room in Robbinsville, North Carolina. They also have infused honey for purchase. Check out their website for an entire selection of honey products.
The guys, Mike, Daryl, and Matthew, from Retro Meadery, immediately drew a crowd with their great personalities and incredible meads. Located in Burgaw, North Carolina, they are the first meadery on the east coast. They pride themselves on being eco-friendly, even reusing used wine bottles. They have created some of the most eye-catching labels. Check out their entire line of meads.
Ethan, the tasting room manager of Starrlight Mead, was a pleasure to meet. Starrlight is the hobby turned to make award-winning meads created by Ben and Becky Starr. Located in Pittsboro, North Carolina, they have outgrown their first facility and are on to their larger tasting room. Discover your new favorite drink here.
For lunch we have 2 options: The Meat Sweats and Chappy’s Crepes. Charles chose the jalapeno cheddar burger and I decided on the veggie crepe. I liked that they offered a vegetarian option. The Meat Sweats is a veteran-owned local butcher shop. Chappy’s Crepes is located next door to Stardust Cellars Tasting room. Their crepes are authentic and delicious.
We highly recommend attending the next Medieval Fest. It's a great introduction to mead and honey products. We will definitely be back next year.