Mead, an alcoholic drink crafted from fermented honey and water, is becoming a hit in the Calgary area, thanks in part to one popular meadery.
Fallentimber Meadery of Water Valley, Alta. has been around for only four years and is already making large strides in today’s brewing industry.
The family-run business combines the skills of raising bees and harvesting their honey, brewing a special brand of mead by fermenting that honey with yeast and water, then getting the product into stores and bars.
The Ryan family, the founders of Fallentimber, manages to accomplish this because each member has a role.
“We start[ed] making mead more for personal consumption at the beginning, using our father, Kevin’s, honey,” Colin Ryan, one of the founders, said in an interview.
“Then we decided to make it into a business.”
Kevin Ryan, father of Colin and Nathan, is in charge of taking care of the bees.
The small meadery uses 350 hives spread out over 18 locations, a small amount compared to the 3,000 hives a commercial honey farm would require
The location of the hives is important because it affects the flavouring of the mead.
The honey the bees produce will vary in flavour depending on the flowers they have had access to.
Once the honey is extracted from the artificial cones by a family friend, the brewing is left up to Colin Ryan.
The carpenter by trade and self-taught brewer develops recipes through trial and error until he brews the flavour he’s looking for, a process that takes two weeks per brew due to fermentation.
This long process pays off in the end.
“They seem to be pretty innovative with their recipes,” commented Shawn Young, an employee at Kensington Wine Market, one of the Calgary liquor stores that stocks Fallentimber’s mead.
Once the brew is ready for bottling, everyone must contribute.
“When we bottle, it takes about six people to [help the operation] run smooth[ly],” said Colin Ryan.“That would include my brother and I, usually one other family members, and our staff.”
From there, it is up to the marketing skills of Nathan Ryan to make the product available for purchase.
Fallentimber’s mead is available in more than 50 liquor stores in Calgary and their hopped mead is on tap at select bars such as National, Midtown Kitchen & Bar, and Cleaver.
Young speculates that of the few meaderies currently operating in Alberta, Fallentimber “is the most well-known brand.”
“It’s fairly popular [even though] only so much [of it] is available around the city.”
Chris Joyce, managing partner of National Beer Hall, agrees. “Fallentimber is the best product in Alberta.”
National Beer Hall chose to start serving the brand eight months ago as “mead and hops are a natural fit for a beer hall.”
“Mead in general is becoming popular and our consumers are always looking for the next greatest thing.”
The meadery held an event on Sept. 29 in honour of its four year anniversary, attracting around 350 people to watch performances and tour the meadery.
As for Fallentimber’s plans for the future, Colin Ryan says they are unsure “but the business is growing fast and [he’s] always trying to get new products out to satisfy [their] customers and [to] never become dull.”
For more information on the meadery, check out its website: http://www.fallentimbermeadery.ca