Mead is wine made from fermenting a mix of honey, water and, depending on the type being made, fruit and spices. The answer to why local chef Jerry Morgan's award-winning mead is so delicious, however, requires a longer discussion.
I met Morgan - a chef at renowned eatery Janos - last year when we arranged a trade: A box of my homegrown veggies for a bottle of his prickly-pear mead. After one sip of said beverage I knew something special was going on, a hunch that was recently validated by Morgan taking top honors at the Arizona Mead Cup. You can check out the results here.
Morgan took home a gold for a mead he brewed with mesquite honey and hibiscus flowers. He says there were hundreds of entries in the contest and that he was quite honored to place so highly.
If you're finding yourself a little jealous that only a small circle of people - including Janos Wilder, who reportedly has a bottle of Morgan's mead in his personal wine cellar - and the judges of the Arizona Mead Cup have tasted this heavenly beverage, take heart. Morgan has filed the paperwork to start what he says will be Tucson's first mead-brewing company. He's currently seeking investors and a spot to make it all happen.
Morgan's Mead will be a far cry from the scant number of commercial mead choices currently available. Morgan says he'll use local honey, which varies from batch to batch and will pass on various nuances to each run of mead. He also used to work at Native Seeds/SEARCH and says he'll be using the knowledge he learned of local foods there to create his products.
"I want to do something unique, but I also want to do something that is tied to the Southwest," said Morgan. "I'll be using local honey, and each batch of honey differs depending on where the bees went and the water content."
Morgan says a big part of his job will also be educating the public that mead can range from sweet to dry, and that there's a whole galaxy of flavors that can be created.
Morgan wasn't sure when the business would get off the ground, but we'll let you know when it does.