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Mead King Mead

Rock Springs, Wisconsin

 

Crusin’ Rating: B

Booze Rating: B+

 


We are checking out a spot in Rock Springs, Wisconsin, just a short drive east from Narrows Creek Winery. Mead King Meadery is a spot that I’ve been fortunate enough to visit several times and witness the space, production, and owner grow from humble beginnings to a bustling weekend destination!



Being our first meadery, as they are somewhat rare in Wisconsin (but not entirely unheard of!), let’s lay a little background. Mead is widely believed to be the oldest alcoholic beverage produced, predating the invention of wine by thousands of years (McGovern) with the earliest proof coming from China around 7000 BC. People have been sipping wine throughout history and it has long been touted as being able to turn any man into a poet or scholar which goes to show that man has been Crusin’ for Booze for way longer than we’ve been writing about it!


Mead is an alcoholic beverage fermented from honey, since honey, when not pasteurized, will often contain live yeast. Add enough moisture (usually water) and you’ve got the workings of fermentation. Not only is mead the oldest beverage known to man, but it’s also the first imbibement I ever attempted to have a hand in producing myself back in my college days with the Thirsty Troll, as he did some mead experiments on the shelf of a bathroom. It’s a process that is easy enough for many to attempt, but it’s not a process that’s easy for everyone to master. Enter Brad, the owner and founder of Mead King Meadery. Brad, like the Thirsty Troll, started creating mead in his basement and like so many home brewers, was encouraged by friends to keep creating more and more until he eventually started having enough to be able to start selling.



That’s the short and sweet version of how Brad opened Mead King. In reality, Brad has been working a day job as a friendly neighborhood cable man by day and taking all of the money made from Mead King and reinvesting it into his operation. It’s been quite the experience to see not only his production, but the space itself increase with each passing year. Brad opened Mead King in the old town hall in Rock Springs that has, at different points, served as a psychiatric hospital, church, and firehouse throughout its existence. Seeing construction first-hand on removing the previous low ceilings to open it back up into the easily 20 foot-plus ceilings that are in there today really has given the space the feel of a mead hall instead of a more standard tasting room. Antique church benches, tables, chairs, and lamps dot the space now giving everything a retro-churchy vibe. The space is filled with laughter and happy conversations giving the impression of very much being in a community space. Construction out back has started to level out terraces in the hill for the planned outdoor space that will one day host live music and charcuterie boards.


Mead King offers a wide variety of meads to try with standard flavors such as Cyser (honey and apples) and Cinnamon Vanilla Mead all the way to the more adventurous end of Black Tea Infused and Barrel-Aged varieties. If mead isn’t your thing, cocktails, energy drinks, and a handful of NA beverages are available as well as pre-packaged snacks. The Thirsty Troll and I split a flight at the very reasonable price of $10.50 and boy did we get our money's worth. Six mead samples, a bag of Madison-based slide gourmet potato chips, chocolate covered chips, and pieces of chocolate were all included to enhance the tasting experience.



Crusin' For Booze- Wisconsin Beer Wine Distillery Blogger- Mead King Meadery- Mead Flight

Rye Barrel-Aged Pink Peppercorn Mead - About the most complex that we could get our hands on this mead was full of peppery and spicy notes when smelling. Vanilla, pepper, and grain spice gave way to little hints of marshmallow sweetness when tasting.


Cherry Mead - This one you could definitely note the honey mixed in with unspiced cherry pie filling when tasting. Garnet red in color, this mead smelled of slightly tart cherries with definite notes of natural sweetness.


Blackberry - This darker orange mead had faint notes of blackberry and honey on the nose and started with berry fruitiness that gave way to some of that tannin presence and finished with a noticeable warmth from the alcohol content.


Standard - Of course, we needed a basis to compare the wilder flavors to, the standard mead is an understated in sweet honey aroma and smooth honey taste that is a perfect introduction to this golden imbibement or for those with non-adventurous pallets.


Black Tea Vanilla Mead - My favorite of the bunch, a rich orange-gold mead that had a pungent, earthy smell that was noticeably honey based but with definite herbal notes mixed in. Vanilla up front when tasting, followed by smooth honey, and then just a touch of tea at the end made this one fun from start to finish.


Spiced Cranberry - A preview of the fall to come - hopefully not too soon - this mead was the color of cloudy red grapefruit juice with clove, cardamom, and cinnamon on the nose. The spices were a little aggressively forward when tasting and the cranberry was a little less tart than I was hoping for but wasn’t bad at all, I just wanted more from it.


This was Thirsty Troll’s first official tasting wherein he took an active part and he was a huge help picking out different notes from the mead. After some friendly conversation with Brad, Thirsty Troll was inspired to start trying his hand again at the mead making process which is a testament to Mead King and it’s owner to inspire that in someone. I may be slightly biased and have a soft spot for Mead King, but even with that aside, I really do think it’s worth part of your day trip to Baraboo to take the brief detour to Rock Springs to try this most ancient of imbibements. I confirmed this sentiment with the Thirsty Troll:


“I’d definitely recommend a trip out here from Madison, and if I was in the Dells, hell yeah I’d come out here to drink.”

I agree, if you’re a fan of mead, then the Mead King is a must stop.


Until next time, keep on Crusin’, don’t stop boozin.’


To learn more about Mead King Meadery, please visit their website at: https://meadking.com/ or on Facebook: @MeadKingMeadery or on Instagram: @MeadKingMeadery




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