Londonderry’s Michael Fairbrother, was recently approved to produce and sell mead from his home. Mead is the oldest known alcoholic beverage and dates back to about 7000 BC. It is a honey-based wine, and predates grape-based wines. Currently, nine mead recipes have been approved for production and are available for purchase. The newly formed business is called Moonlight Meadery LLC.
There are few remaining meaderies in the country. Grapes became the dominant wine ingredient because it was less expensive. Fairbrother has been winning awards and making mead out of his home for 15 years. He has competed in the New England Regional Homebrewer competition for several years, and has won first place the past three years in a row. Last year, his mead called Desire took first place, and his mead Coffee in Bed took fourth. After last year’s Best of Show win, he decide to make a business out of his passion.
Approval for Fairbrother to make mead in his home came after a long process involving the federal, state and town governments. During an interview with the federal government, Michael had to show plans outlining his brewery and provide a specific room designated to record keeping. Next, the New Hampshire State Liquor Commission conducted an in-home interview to verify his plans and chemicals. He also had to attend town meetings where he outlined his plans and was approved.
To make mead, Mr. Fairbrother must first mix honey and water. He then dilutes the mixture down to the chosen alcohol level, before adding yeast for fermentation. He might add fruit and spices that will ferment with the honey, depending on the desired flavor.
During the fermentation process, the yeast must be stirred at least once per day. The mixture is monitored through measurements to ensure it is fermenting properly. Once fermentation is complete, the mixture is placed into tanks for the aging process.
During the aging process, Michael takes samples to determine the mead’s progress. Through these samples, Fairbrother is able to know when the mead is ready to be bottled and sold. The whole process can take about 3 months, but will sometimes take longer depending on the desired finished product.
Moonlight Meadery is now approved to make nine different flavors of mead. Each time the company would like to make a new flavor, the recipe must be approved by the federal government. Michael is not allowed to make any amount of a new flavor until the recipe has been approved. Sometimes, the recipe can be denied for various reasons. One such reason is if the alcohol content is too high.
The mead produced in Londonderry can be sold to both individuals of legal drinking age and businesses that hold a current liquor license. Due to restrictions set by the state and town, however, Fairbrother cannot sell from his property. He must either deliver the product, or ship it via mail. Currently, The Drinkery, here in Londonderry, has three different Moonlight Meadery flavors, Desire, Kisses and Embrace. Bert’s Better Beers, in Hooksett, New Hampshire, also has both Kisses and Desire available for purchase.
Moonlight Meadery’s Desire is, in this reporter’s opinion, a smooth wine. The first sip has an unexpected bite, but the flavor calms with each sip. While not a big wine drinker, this reporter found Desire easy to drink and would recommend it for other wine drinkers.
Learn more about the local meadery, or find out how to purchase mead, at Moonlight Meadery’s website. To see the nine different flavors that Moonlight Meadery is allowed to produce, and a brief description of each, click Read More.
- Desire- Moonlight Meadery’s “Best of Show” mead, it’s a 16.7% alcohol by volume (ABV) “Specialty Wine.” It contains 70% honey, 10% black currant, 10% black cherry, and 10% blueberries.
- Coffee in Bed- The meadery’s fourth place winner in last year’s competition, it’s a 15.3% ABV “Specialty Wine.” It’s made with honey and 100% Sumatra Coffee.
- Admiration- Called a “soft and flavorful” wine, it is a 16% ABV wine. One 54-gallon batch contains 216 pounds of Wildflower Honey and 84 pounds of Boysenberries.
- Embrace- Made from 63% honey, and 38% black currant juice, this mead is 15.7% ABV. Black currants dominate in flavor, hiding the honey, and changing the expectations of what mead is.
- Kisses- With the first batch being limited to only 12 gallons, this is a honey strawberry wine. With 15.3% ABV, Moonlight Meadery recommends the wine be served slightly chilled, but not too cold.
- Bliss- Containing 68% Honey, 13% black currants, 13% black raspberries, and 13% blueberries, this specialty wine has 15.2% ABV. A “sweet, dessert-like wine,” serving with cheese is recommended.
- Paramour- This specialty wine is made with 63% Honey, 13% blackberries, 13% blueberries, 5% black cherries, and 5% black currants. At 16.7% ABV, the wine is said to be “wonderfully complex.”
- Sensual- An “Other than Standard Honey Wine,” it contains a perfect blend of honey, yeast and water. Having 15.3% ABV, it pairs well with any dish, or can be enjoyed by itself.
- Breathless- When served chilled, this wine can make a great desert. It features “loads of cinnamon” and has 15.3% ABV.