Tucked into a building next door to a body shop, Boulder’s Redstone Meadery is not the most bucolic winery I’ve visited. The operation features a small tasting and retail room up front, with the brewing equipment in the back. Tours operate regularly by schedule; tour and a somewhat exhaustive tasting are both complimentary. Reserve wines can be tasted for another $3-4 a piece.
The tour walks through the fermentation process, and features frequent cautions that mead is not all sweet. It seems, like with Riesling wine, there is a common belief that mead is sweet. Reality is that a mead can be quite dry. Some of the aromas, again like Riesling, can be floral and tropical, suggesting sweetness where it might be lacking on the palate.
Mead is just wine made from honey, at the end of the day. Water and honey are combined, heated, inoculated with yeast, and fermented. Mild carbonation is added to most of Redstone’s meads after fermentation (except the reserve wines, which are sweeter and meant for aging).
Most of the wines are off-dry to mildly sweet. The variations between them are what is added to the mead for additional flavor. The options vary, including fruits, spices, and hops. Yes, hops!
Trying mead and visiting a meadery is definitely a worthwhile experience mead is not my cup of tea. That it needs something added to make it interesting gets at this somewhat. Most of the mead I tried was simple in flavor and aroma and lacks for intrigue. The mead infused with hops was my favorite of the bunch, with delicate bitterness and a nice hoppy aroma. In isolation, it is an interesting beverage, but at the end of the day I would rather drink a good beer.