When Greg Bowdish started keeping beehives on his two-acre property in Severance, Colorado, he developed a unique problem: He needed something to do with all the honey his bees were producing. He’d been home-brewing since 2000, but his wife, Kim, is allergic to beer, so he thought he’d give mead making a try. And so Hunters Moon Meadery was born in 2010.
Soon Greg's abundance of bees grew to sixty beehives, each with its own distinct properties. “You can have two beehives right next to each other that produce very different honey,” he explains.
The Bowdishes use all of this honey in twenty different meads that have won 36 international medals, and the couple loves to build on the diversity of their products by adding spices and fruits. “Sometimes batches are successful, and sometimes they’re not,” Greg says. “But either way it’s fun to experiment.”
One of the experiments that paid off was an Earl Grey tea-infused mead. Not only is it one of the most popular meads among customers, but it also won Best of Show at a wine festival in Windsor judged by master sommeliers. “For wine judges to pick a mead over wine is pretty amazing,” Greg notes.
Mead takes a good amount of planning and time because of the drink's long fermentation and aging requirements. Most meads are aged at least nine months, and more typically for a year or more. Hunters Moon's semi-sweet Mountain Berry is made with chokecherries from the Bowdishes' front yard. “It’s really as local as you can get,” laughs Kim. The Sweet Mountain Berry is a still, sweet mead made with huckleberries from northwest Montana, where Kim is from. Lady Eva is made with Palisade peaches, Ginger Moon with fresh ginger, and Kona Mikala with sweet Kona coffee. Touch of Gold is infused with saffron, and Kim’s Clove is made with typical holiday spices, making it a great base for a hot toddy. Trappers Cask Red is aged in merlot French Oak barrel for six months.
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While Greg started out making all of the meads with his own honey, these days the bees can’t keep up. Currently, he estimates that he uses about 50 percent of his own honey and 50 percent purchased from elsewhere, with an emphasis on Colorado honeys. For example, the meadery recently sourced a type of honey that naturally tastes like marshmallows and added cocoa nibs, vanilla and graham crackers to replicate the flavor of s’mores.
“Beekeeping is a pretty tough business,” Greg notes. “The original goal was to make all of our own meads with our own honeys. We needed about 100 hives, which would give 6,000 pounds of honey." But Hunters Moon is still a side project, since Greg also runs his own civil engineering business full-time and the Bowdishes have three grandchildren.
If you want to sample the Bowdishes' meads, you can make an appointment on the Hunters Moon website to visit the meadery. You can also find bottles at about ten liquor stores along the Front Range, including Vineland Liquor in Arvada, Daveco Liquor in Thornton, Wyatt’s Wet Goods in Longmont and RJ’s Wine and Spirits in Fort Collins.