How Mead Is Making a Comeback

Sergio Moutela, owner of Melovino Meadery in Vauxhall, has his fingers on the pulse of New Jersey’s mead movement.

Courtesy of Melovino Meadery

Mead, perhaps the world’s oldest fermented beverage, dating back thousands of years, is making a modern comeback, and New Jersey’s Melovino Meadery is making its mark. At last October’s first Mead Crafters Competition, sponsored by the National Honey Board, Sergio Moutela’s 5-year-old meadery in Vauxhall won two silver medals and two bronze across three categories. And in the world’s biggest mead competition, the Mazer Cup International, over the last two years Melovino has placed higher, in sum, than all other entrants.

Mead—a wine fermented from at least 51 percent honey, plus water and almost anything else, flavorwise—isn’t necessarily sweet. “I think about what I want my meads to taste like,” says Moutela. “It’s like cooking. You blend flavors and methods to get to the final outcome.”

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This month, Moutela celebrates the second anniversary of his Mead Bar, where patrons can sample eight taproom-only drafts, plus many bottled varieties, every Friday through Sunday. “There’s something new on tap almost every single week,” he says. 

Flavors vary depending on the type of honey as well as the yeasts, fermentation temperature and other factors. Like wine, meads typically weigh in at about 12-14 percent alcohol by volume. Melovino meads sell for about $25 per 500-ml bottle.

There are about 500 artisanal meaderies in America. As president of the American Mead Makers Association and of the New Jersey Mead Alliance, Moutela has his fingers on the pulse of the movement. He campaigned for a new state license that allows Jersey meaderies—his will soon be joined by three independent start-ups—to sell online, as well as from their taprooms and in stores such as Wegmans.  

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