House Bear Brewing in Newburyport helps bring mead back
The labels on Newburyport’s House Bear Brewing meads have fancy designs with witty names – riffs on comics, cartoons and movie posters, says Beth Borges, co-founder with her business partner Carl Hirschfeld. Even the name of the company came up from a joke between the two. Their meads, honey wines that date back to medieval times but have made a comeback, offer the mouthfeel of an English cider with varying levels of dry to fruity with flavors of apple, citrus, d ‘herbs and flowers. The honey comes from local apiaries; some meads have won awards. One selection, Paradise Unpaved, its sweet sweetness offset by the pie, is produced from passion fruit and prickly pear. Another, World War Bee, made with leaves of lemon verbena plants, is reminiscent of lemonade. Nursery Crimes is light and refreshing made with basil; the traditional Show Bear, sweet with earthy notes, is created with blueberry honey. Borges once worked as a graphic designer and ran a poetry magazine, and it is the artist who designs the labels. She started making mead when she was a student at Babson College. When she changed careers, Borges persuaded her good friend Carl to open mead with her. Still a small operation, the pair produce 20 to 30 cases per week ($ 12 to $ 14 for a 16.9 ounce bottle). “While interest is growing among craft beer enthusiasts, it still takes a lot of education to build a following,” Borges said. As well as sipping a cold drink (some prefer room temperature), you can use it as a versatile blender with a light or dark spirit. Meads have 12% alcohol – unless you’re careful, you’ll clearly create a stiff libation. Available at select Craft Beer Cellar stores; Wegmans, selected locations; Concord Cheese Shop, 29 Walnut St., Concord, 978-369-5778; Pemberton Farms Marketplace, 2225 Mass. Ave., Cambridge, 617-491-2244, et al., And various farmers’ markets. housebearbrewing.com.
ANN TRIEGER KURLAND
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