Patrick Dobbins is giving the world’s oldest alcoholic drink a makeover. The mead maker and owner of Colorado’s Annapurna Mead is doing two things to reach a wider audience: He's ditching bottles for cans and making a dry mead that’s relatively low in alcohol.
Mead, made from fermented honey, usually hovers around 14 percent alcohol, but Dobbins’s creations are less than half that at around 5.5 to 6.5 percent, which he says puts Annapurna's products among only a handful of low-alcohol meads in the entire country.
“Most meads that you’ll find are like a dessert wine — semi-sweet and high in alcohol,” Dobbins says. “We really want to change perspectives and pallets.”
Annapurna Mead has been in full production in Colorado Springs since last May and has been canning meads since November. Canning was an easy choice, Dobbins explains, since cans are easy to recycle and transport.
“We’re trying to present the history of mead and honey in a new light,” he adds. In contrast to the traditional sweet variety, Annapurna styles are dry and crisp, which according to Dobbins tend to be more “food friendly” when it comes to pairing.
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There are two flagship meads: Cherry Bee Dazzled and For the Love of Ginger. The bright cherry mead, which comes in at 5.8 percent ABV, also contains hibiscus, adding tartness that goes well with salads or that works well when reduced for sauces. Dobbins says the ginger mead is a great after-dinner drink with the digestive benefits of ginger. It has notes of pineapple, lemongrass and a tropical background, pairing nicely with Asian cuisines, salads and poultry-based dishes.
Dobbins also gets creative with his rotating and seasonal options. There are fifteen or so test taps around Colorado Springs and Denver where the mead maker gathers feedback to determine if experimental batches should make the jump to regular production. Current special releases include Sauvage Mead Blanc, comparable to a New Zealand sauvignon blanc, and Hive of Gold, a mixture of raw wildflower honey, pumpkin and smoky chipotle.
Other recent meads that have been or are currently being tested include an orange-basil, a carrot-turmeric and a salted sangria style made with several different kinds of fruit.
Find Annapurna Mead on tap and in cans at bars and in liquor stores by visiting annapmead.com.