Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Starrlight Mead

Since nothing seems to say patriotism like alcohol, yesterday I ventured to Pittsboro, NC, to sample some local honey wines.  The destination was Starrlight Mead, a "meadery" located in the old Village at Chatham Hills and owned by award winning mead makers Ben and Becky Starr. While Starrlight may have opened just ten months ago, word has spread quickly, and it was with several recommendations that I set off to Pittsboro for the Fourth.

So what makes mead, which evokes visions of medieval castles and lords, a local NC product? First, Starrlight uses only honey from NC bees. Ben recounted a story of how, while presenting his meads at a Renaissance Festival, a state alcoholic bureau employee came up to him and offered honey from his own bees kept in Wake Forest, NC. 
Caps from the honey plates
In addition to the local ingredients (which consist mostly of honey, water and yeast), the meadery also uses corks from Zebulon, NC, and, of course, is a registered small business in Chatham County. Like the numerous wineries and vineyards in NC, Starrlight showcases the greatness of North Carolina ingredients and the ingenuity of NC entrepreneurs.
All Starrlight Mead honey comes from NC cities, indicated on the map with bees
But what about the mead itself? If you like native NC wines like muscadine and scuppernong varieties, mead is the drink for you. The traditional flavor and its variations are about a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being very dry and 10 being very sweet. Their Traditional Mead, Meadjito (that’s right, a mead mojito with lemon and mint which was my personal favorite), and Blackberry mead all fall into the semi-sweet category and are excellent served cold.  Their off-dry Traditional and Blackberry are much less sweet, closer to middle-of-the-road white wines. In the mood for a sweeter drink? Both their Sweet Peach and Spiced Apple mead are on the sweeter side showcasing the delicious fermentation of their ingredients and the unique-ness of honey-made wine.
Tastings are only $5 and include 7 mead varieties
If any of this makes your mouth water, check out their website for details on the Mead Day Festival which will feature activities and tastings for the whole family on August 6th!

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