The Honey20: #15 to #11

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The National Honey Board is proud to announce the Honey20, a list of made with honey alcoholic beverages that have impacted our drinking experiences for the last 200+ years. View installment one of the Honey20, which covers entries #20 to #16.

In this installment, mead not only makes its debut but accounts for four slots. What’s notable about these meads is their diversity, ranging from sweet to dry to fruity. Sandwiched in between the meads is an easy-drinking beer that took top honors in our Honey Beer Competition in 2015 and 2016.

If you have any comments about our selections (we know you will), we’d love to hear them at [email protected].


#15. Kurt’s Apple Pie

Moonlight Meadery, Londonberry, New Hampshire

Perhaps the biggest misperception about the mead industry is what mead actually tastes like. And, few have done more than Michael Fairbrother to change that perception. Michael not only crafts diversely flavored meads that satisfy every type of drinker, but he also is an unapologetic promoter of mead, working hard to elevate his company and the mead industry. The work has paid off with 1.5 million bottles sold and press coverage in diverse places ranging from Men’s Journal to the Wall Street Journal. It was hard to pick just one of Moonlight Meadery’s meads for this list, but Kurt’s Apple Pie made the cut. It is one of the meadery’s most popular meads with 20,000 bottles sold a year, as well as one of the most approachable. It honestly tastes like apple pie. It’s the perfect after-dinner dessert in a bottle and the perfect way to change consumer perceptions about what mead can be.


#14. 2018 Show Mead

All-Wise Meadery, Brooklyn New York

Rarely does mead find its way onto Page Six, the New York Post’s infamous gossip column. Nor does the ancient beverage usually get ink in the Hollywood Reporter, BuzzFeed, and Forbes. Thanks to Dylan Sprouse, former Disney star and now mead maker, that has all changed. The actor started All-Wise Meadery in Brooklyn in 2017 and has single-handedly introduced mead to a new generation of consumers, including his 8.8 million Instagram and 4.8 million Twitter followers. However, the celebrity of Sprouse is not the most interesting aspect of All-Wise. Instead, it’s the mead, which skews surprisingly traditional and unsurprisingly excellent, considering Sprouse has been brewing mead since his years at New York University. The meadery’s 2018 Show Mead is a perfect example of the meadery’s philosophy. A dry, traditional honey wine aged in oak. No bells, whistles or flashy marketing campaigns. Instead, an exhibition of the quality of the honey sourced and the skills of Sprouse as a mead maker.


#13. Honey Kolsch

Rogue Ales, Newport, Oregon

In our first Honey Beer Competition in 2015, Rogue Ales’ Honey Kolsch came away with the Best in Show. Granted it was a small competition, but we all were clearly impressed by the quality and crispness of the beer. The next year, in a significantly larger competition, Honey Kolsch came away with the win again. Then, in 2020 amid stiff competition of 220 entries, Honey Kolsch won Best in Show for the third time, cementing its place as one of the best honey beers on the market. Besides the Honey Beer Competition, the beer’s resume is quite extensive: Gold – 2019 Best of Craft Beer Awards; Platinum – 2018 World Beverage Competition; Gold – 2018 World Beer Championships; Bronze – 2018 New York International Beer Competition; First Place – 2017 Great International Beer & Cider Competition. Even more impressive than the beer’s awards is its story. Rogue Ales was one of the first breweries to embrace the role bees play in our entire food ecosystem. The brewery’s Rogue Farms has countless colonies of bees on its property that pollinate crops and produce the honey used in Honey Kolsch.


#12. Sour Mead

Golden Coast Mead, Oceanside, California

A “happy accident” is the best way to describe #12 on the Honey20: Sour Mead from Golden Coast Mead. While experimenting with jun (honey kombucha) fermentation, the culture the meadery was using accidentally “contaminated” a fermentation vessel of wildflower mead. What generally would result in a bad batch of mead surprisingly turned into something different, something sour. In 2014, sour was the domain of the craft beer industry and not a desirable attribute in mead. However, Golden Coast liked what they tasted and put it on tap. It sold out quickly, and the rest is history. Today, sour meads have been embraced by the mead industry and bridged the gap for many brewers looking for access into the wonderful world of honey wine. Golden Coast’s Sour Mead is a true expression of honey in an alcoholic beverage. It’s tart, refreshing, dynamic and quite magical. It changed the mead industry and opened the eyes of countless brewers to how adventurous and innovative mead can be.


#11. Kill All the Golfers

B. Nektar Meadery, Ferndale, Michigan

If you’ve drank mead, most likely you’ve had one of B. Nektar Meadery’s quirky sessionable meads. The meadery is one of the pioneers of lower ABV meads that eschewed traditional mead branding and instead embraced the quirkiness of craft beer packaging and marketing. With names such as Zombies Take Manhattan and Kill All the Golfers, it can be easy to overlook the quality of B. Nektar’s mead because of the bombastic branding. However, the true art of B. Nektar is in the bottle and the meadery’s approach to mead making. In Kill All the Golfers, the company developed an extremely approachable mead that clocks in at 6% ABV and tastes like a complex take on an Arnold Palmer.


Congratulations to the meaderies, breweries,and distilleries that made our list! And, stay tuned for our Top 10 in the coming weeks.