JAMES CITY COUNTY: It’s a drink as old as time: Mead, a delicious, fermented honey beverage. Popular during the medieval ages, it’s now coming back into fashion. Locally, James City County has not one, but two meaderies for residents to enjoy.
Here’s a closer look at how these local businesses are perfecting their craft:
Silver Hand Meadery
Since opening in 2015, the Silver Hand Meadery has made a name for itself in the Williamsburg community by providing a wide range of meads, each one with cool, song-inspired names.
“Every mead we made was like another album,” said co-owner, Glenn Lavender. In his spare time, Lavender is also a song-writer and musician.
Lavender first discovered mead after reading several books on beekeeping and historical fiction novels by author Stephen R. Lawhead.
“In his books, the characters are always drinking mead, and I was also getting into beekeeping at the same time,” Lavender said.
In fact, it was Lawhead’s novel, “The Silver Hand,” that inspired the name of Lavender’s meadery. The name struck him because “Silver” was also his grandmother’s maiden name.
Now, Silver Hand Meadery offers mead in several fun flavors on tap. It also offers tastings. The meadery also sells various types of honey and other gifts.
This past weekend, the Silver Hand Meadery celebrated Mead Day, Aug. 7, with live music, NOSH food truck, and mead slushies.
“I like to have a little class when I do things, so I was a little hesitant to offer mead slushies,” Lavender said. That was before he tried one and loved it.
This week, Silver Hand Meadery will be acquiring a new space in order to expand its production and to have more room for the business.
Windchaser Meadery is one of the newest faces to the local Mead scene.
A passion-project turned business, the meadery is the latest endeavor by the Hultman family.
It all started when Joe and Melanie Hultman’s eldest daughter was getting married. At the time, Hultman was just getting into beekeeping and decided to make mead for his daughter’s wedding.
Before that, the couple took a bee-keeping class together, where Hultman caught the beekeeping bug. Wanting to do something special for his daughter, he made a batch of mead.
“Everyone went nuts for it,” he said. “Pretty soon, her friends were asking if I’d make some for their weddings.”
After the fourth request for mead at a wedding, the Hultman’s realized that they had a business on their hands.
Last year, the family opened up Windchaser Meadery in Colonial Towne Plaza Shopping Center. The business celebrated its one year anniversary on Aug. 1.
Since the first batch, Hultman has taken enjoyment in experimenting with flavors and recipes. “We’ve had a lot of happy accidents,” he said.
Among the favorites is a peach-infused mead and a pina colada flavored one that have now become seasonal must-haves. Hultman said he was most surprised that a jalapeno mead, an idea from a friend, matched very well with meats and cheeses.
But his favorite so far is an elderflower mead he made from a dehydrated powder his wife bought from an apothecary to make teas. “She’s still a little bitter about it, because I took some and put it into a batch I was working on,” Hultman said. “But if you ask me, that’s my favorite one so far.”
While Windchaser doesn’t serve by the glass yet, they do offer tastings so people can try before they buy a bottle. Aside from meads, they also sell honeys, teas, and other accessories.