Thursday, May 30, 2019

Honeytree Meadery: The Place to Bee in Nashville

What's buzzin', cousin? Check it out! A week ago, I had the opportunity to be part of history here in Nashville. It was Thursday night, May 23rd and I had gotten off work a few hours before. I anxiously walked up to the door of the quaint, white building on Woodland Avenue in what is known as East Nashville. As I walked through the door, I was immediately greeted with a warm smile and friendly welcome by a charming woman whose name escapes me. She welcomed me to Honeytree Meadery, the first meadery in Nashville and one of the few in the state of Tennessee. I spoke with my “hostess” for a minute or two as she gave me an itinerary for the night’s festivities and a general layout of the meadery. While she spoke, my eyes scanned left and right trying to soak in all the sights and the ambience of what I knew would be my new favorite spot. To my left was an area with these wonderful hanging basket chairs. To the right were several seating areas with padded benches that just looked so comfortable. Immediately in front of me and off to the left was the bar area where a few people were sampling various meads. I thanked my “hostess” and made my way to the bar.

At the bar, I was greeted by a very enthusiastic young lady who proceeded to run down the list of meads available and offered me samples of each. There were seven different meads available but I only tried six of them. Up first was Honeytree’s Basic Batch which I thought was wonderful. Not too sweet and was as smooth as could be. My “bartender,” no that doesn’t seem right…. “bar hostess” …. no that’s not right either. Wait, I’ve got it… my new friend explained to me that the Wildflower Honey used was from Johnson’s Honey Farm in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, just a few miles to the north of our location. The Basic Batch is the building block on which all the other meads are built. Then I tried a sample of what she called the Small Batch, which was the same as the Basic Batch but with a slightly lower alcohol content. Where the Basic Batch ferments out to about 11% ABV, the Little Batch only hits about 8% ABV. The Little Batch was served chilled and had a slight effervescence to it. I enjoyed the Basic but this Little Batch blew me away. Next, I tried Sweet Baby Ginger, a honey-candied ginger mead. It had a nice refreshing crispness to it with just a bit of heat from the ginger. There was also an underlying flavor that I couldn’t pinpoint until Matt, the mazer or as he proclaims, the Resident Mad Scientist, explained to me later. Apparently this mead had originated as a bochet and the caramelized honey gave it hints of toasted marshmallow. My next sample was a rhodomel they named, quite appropriately, Bouquet Toss. This enticing nectar had rose hips, linden flower and hibiscus in the mix that not only gave it a rosé color but also delivered a citrusy-floral taste with just a bit of bite. My next savory sip came thanks to Honeytree’s Signature Series which they hope to use to highlight small-batch honeys. This particular mead used honey sourced from Honeytree’s own colonies and had a very different flavor profile from the Basic Batch sourced from Johnson’s Honey Farm. The terroir from the two were similar but still different if that makes sense? The final mead, or meads I should say, were from the meadery’s Sneaky Batch. That’s what they call their experimental batches they brew in secret as a way of surprising the other members of their leadership team. On opening night, the Sneaky Batch I tried was a Pineapple Sage while the one I missed out on was a tomato mead. The Pineapple Sage was highly flavorful with the pineapple up front on the initial tasting but then you get the earthiness and a little heat from the sage. I would never of thought about combining these two flavors in a mead but then again, I don’t run a meadery. So, who am I to argue with the experts?
After I tried all the samples, I eventually settled on the Little Batch to start with but then switched over to the Signature Series release. While enjoying my drinks, I wandered out back to the fenced-in patio area then back inside where I checked out the fermenting area which is closed off by a wall and glass panels. Eventually I had to leave, just before the trivia began, but not before I snagged a bottle of the Basic Batch which I will sit down and review in the near future. I want to see if the bottled version lives up to the kegged expression. But that’s a post for another time.

In case you couldn’t tell, I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Honeytree and I was glad I could participate in this historical night. I talked briefly to Matt and Ross, the men behind the meadery, and they have big things planned for the future and we all need to get onboard because I think it will be a hell of a ride. With that said, if you are ever in Nashville, make your way over to 918 Woodland and pay the guys a visit. For now, they are open Thursday through Sunday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. (subject to change but they will announce any changes). Hit up their website and make sure to follow them on Twitter and Instagram as well for all the latest news. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

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