A local meadery, Haymaker Meadery, decided to run a fun competition among local beekeepers across three counties. The idea was that beekeepers from Philadelphia, Chester, and Montgomery counties in Pennsylvania would bring in honey from their beehives which would then be turned into three separate meads using only honey from each individual county. They collected the honey in August 2017 and in February 2018, the meads were finished, bottled, and ready to be tasted and judged.
Since I make mead at home as well, I was pretty psyched to be a part of this and rustled up two jars of honey to participate. Each 2.5 lbs of honey is returned to the beekeeper in the form of a bottle of mead which is a pretty great trade! Plus, participants also received a discount on purchases during the judging day.
The honey in the photo above is late Summer honey from my hives, so it’s darker than its earlier Spring counterpart. As part of Chester County’s mead, the final product was indeed the darker of the three meads, so I have to imagine I wasn’t the only one bringing in fresh, late summer honey that was probably mostly clover-based. After judging, the winner was declared to be Montgomery County’s mead, a lighter mead reminiscent of a Riesling with a touch of lemon and floral notes. I’ll hand it to Montgomery County bees and beeks – they really put together some lovely honey to create a great mead. I mean, they’re all good, and I was hard-pressed to pick a favorite since they all have their merits, but it was neat to see that even a matter of 10 or 20 miles could create honeys so different and as a result, meads that were so different. Haymaker Meadery is looking to start another round of county-specific meads this year on Mead Day in August of 2018, so beekeepers, be sure to set aside some honey to participate this year! It’s exciting to see your honey made into a professional mead, and getting to chat with other area beekeepers while sipping on delicious meads at judging day is a fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon. There may still be bottles of these three available at Haymaker, so I’d definitely suggest visiting the shop and trying some truly local flavor!