“Our first efforts were questionable,” Schoendorf said. “But we tweaked the recipe, and finally we came up with something that is similar to what we have now. Our friends really liked it, and people started asking us for it.”
Monks Mead is a blond, effervescent drink that conjures something of the essence of both beer and champagne. At 12.9 percent alcohol, it’s dangerously easy to imbibe, with a fruity honey aroma and a surprisingly dry palate.
Currently, Key and Schoendorf are making Monks Mead at Terrapin Beer Co. in Athens, with a recipe that calls for water, wildflower honey, champagne yeast and yeast nutrient.
Though many artisan meads are sweet and flavored with fruit or spices, Monks Mead was designed to be more straightforward.
“We like a dry, crisp, carbonated style of mead,” Key said. “We wanted to make something that would get people into trying it and not be overly complex.”
Because their mead is classified as a sparkling wine but requires brewing equipment to produce, Key and Schoendorf had to get over multiple legal hurdles before they could attempt the first test batch at Terrapin.
“We needed a brewery, but we needed a wine license, so we were in this weird zone,” Key said. “On the days we make our mead, Terrapin actually legally becomes a winery.”
“It’s the only place in the country like that, as far as we know,” Schoendorf said. “It took years to work out the legal issues.”
Key and Schoendorf have purchased a bottling line that will be installed at Terrapin soon, allowing them to package Monks Mead in 750 ml bottles, which will retail for around $9.99.
In addition to the Porter, look for Monks Mead on draft at Midway Pub in East Atlanta, the Nook near Piedmont Park, and the Bookhouse Pub in Poncey-Highland. Whole Foods in Poncey-Highland is selling Monks Mead in growlers. And Key and Schoendorf will be offering samples at the Atlanta Winter Beerfest on Jan. 28 at Masquerade Music Park in Atlanta.
“A lot of people have never heard of mead,” Schoendorf said. “Other people have heard of it, but have no clue what it tastes like. The smallest segment is people who know what mead is and have tried it and like it. We’re hoping to get more people into that segment.”