Author Mead Co. invited me up for a visit at the end of the summer, and I’m excited to share what I found with you. They’re a new meadery based out of Vancouver, Washington, that launched earlier in 2018. If your experience with mead is that you haven’t had a good one, I challenge you to try this brand. The meads offered speak to beer and cider lovers alike, throwing off the medieval times perception with ease.
Author Mead Co: 17212 NE 88th Street, Building A, Vancouver, WA 98682
Hours: Not currently open to the public; Taproom set to open Spring 2019
The visit to Author Mead Co.
I had a chance to sit down with those that run Author Mead Co. during my visit. Those in attendance were Mike Wright, in charge of the brewing operations, Andy Sperling, who managed the facilities, and Kelly Collins, their Sales Manager.
We had a delightful time getting to know each other. Each of the guys have a great sense of humor, and it was clear that they enjoyed working together. We talked about what sets their product apart, future plans for the property, and of course, the draft mead.
Tasting the Mead
To start off the tasting, we tried four different kinds of honey. Mead is made by fermenting honey with water and yeast, not dissimilar from the process of making beer. They keep bees on the property, but the supply of honey isn’t nearly enough to make large batches. The majority is brought in from outside sources located in the Willamette Valley and Columbia Basin. You wouldn’t believe how much is needed to brew a batch (see multiple barrels of honey).
I was able to sample three of the finished draft meads, and one that was still in tank (the IPM). All were around 6% ABV, much more sessionable than what I was expecting. Below are the descriptions of each, from Author Mead:
- Marionberry leverages the uniqueness of Oregon marionberries for a bold, full-bodied flavor with a smooth finish.
- Semi-Sweet is the flagship style boasting a golden color and crisp character with raw, local, unfiltered wildflower honey.
- Raspberry delivers a sweet and tart balance with vibrant fruit and honey aromas that perfectly complement one another.
- India Pale Mead (IPM) is a game-changing IPM with a bright and hoppy flavor profile produced from a unique blend that features Citra hops.
Their approach is simple, and the product solid. As beer is my primary drink of choice, I really enjoyed seeing hops used for the IPM. They’s an obvious and traditional ingredient in beer, but in mead are seen less often.
Fruit-based recipes are more commonly seen for mead flavors. The Raspberry and Marionberry that I tasted that day reminded me of all the delicious sour beers I gravitate toward, and were quite the treat.
From what I learned that day, I appreciated the focus on high-quality, local ingredients. We have a wealth of options here in the Pacific Northwest, and to support and utilize them is admirable.
Where can you purchase Author Mead?
12-ounce cans are available at select retailers and bottle shops in Oregon and SW Washington. Check out Green Zebra, New Seasons, People’s Co-Op, McMenamins 23rd Avenue Bottle Shop, John’s Marketplace, Ben’s Bottle Shop, or Hockinson Market.
Look & Feel of Author Mead Co’s Brand
Branding is so important these days, and Author Mead Co. really nailed how they present themselves. They utilize visual elements associated with bees and honey in a modern way.
Honeycomb shapes and patterns delight, presented in gold as an extra boost of eye candy. The bee mark is recognizable without getting too scientific. The “O” in Author is made to look like a honeycomb. Each flavor is distinguished with it’s own rich color identifier.
The cans, oh my, the cans. Undeniably a pain in the ass from a printer’s perspective, the labels are finished with a matte coating. Did that stop them from doing it though? Nope. I think they pulled the look off well, muting the metallic elements to give them more of an elevated feel. I absolutely love how the honeycomb pattern trickles down from the top, drawing the eye from the brand down to the mead name.
As mead production typically lies somewhere between beer and wine, I was intrigued by Author Mead Co’s setup. What I found is that they used their beer background to influence equipment and to shape their processes.
They use a 30-barrel system to brew the draft mead in tandem with two 60-barrel fermenters. The finishing process is very similar to beer, making the final product more carbonated and crisp.
The one-room operation was a quick tour, but there was more to see outside of the building. From the bay doors, open fields went as far as the eye could see. Bee hives were strategically placed and quite active.
Also outside was the home of their forthcoming taproom space. Plans have been made for an opening in Spring of 2019. The space will include 20 taps, utilizing a combination of Author Mead, beer, and wine from the local community. An outdoor patio will overlook the roughly 70-acre property, intended to be developed with walking paths along Fifth Plain Creek.
The meadery building resides on an old piece of land that has been home to a dairy farm and horse stables over the years. A new housing development is in the works, going in right across the street. It has amazing potential to be a multi-use estate in the coming years.
One very particular addition to that plan is the historic farmhouse that currently resides on the other side of the road. Author Mead is looking to use it as a restaurant space, but will need to relocate it to their side before that becomes an option. It’s a beautiful piece of history that will only add to the charm of the entire operation.