Monks Meadery bringing the oldest form of alcohol to Poncey-Highland

A selection of products from Monks Meadery. / Courtesy of Monks Meadery

A selection of products from Monks Meadery. / Courtesy of Monks Meadery

A brick-and-mortar meadery years in the making is finally set to make its Atlanta debut next month.

Monks Meadery is slated to open June 5 at 579 N. Highland Ave., on the ground level of the building that houses coffee and wine shop Java Vino.

Owner Justin Schoendorf applied for licenses to open a tasting room more than two years ago, but ran into delays due in large part to the pandemic.

“It’s been an amazing learning experience,” Schoendorf said. “We’re just excited that we’re finally looking at getting open.”

Schoendorf started Monks Meadery with high school friend Martin Key years ago, first making fermented honey wine at Terrapin Brewery’s facility in Athens. They later moved operations to Southern Brewing Company, where they’ve been producing mead for the past four years for sale at local liquor stores and on offer at a handful of Georgia restaurants and bars.

Opening a tasting room in Atlanta was always part of Monks’ long-term plans, said Schoendorf, who lives in Atlanta and dreamed of introducing city dwellers to his favorite beverage.

After years of working out of other businesses’ spaces, “this will be the first time we’ll have an interface with the consumer,” Schoendorf said. “It gives us the ability to tell our story, and it’s a place where someone can come in and you can sample different things, and then buy a bottle or two to take home.”

The exterior of Monks Meadery / Courtesy of Monks Meadery

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He added that being able to educate customers on mead is also important for the company. “We’ve been operating without that component for so long.”

While Georgia is home to several meaderies, including a few in the metro Atlanta area, Monks will be the first dedicated meadery in the City of Atlanta.

Monks’ Poncey-Highland walkout basement space faces the Java Vino parking lot, with access via a roll-up garage door. A bar and several tables will offer indoor seating for about 30 people.

Look for a dozen meads on tap at a time, with six year-round products, including the original Monks flavor, Monks Mead, as well as the floral Stigmata. There will also be six rotating specials and several local craft beers.

The majority of Monks meads are on the dry side, which Schoendorf said helps them stand out from other meaderies’ offerings.

Meads will be offered in 2-ounce glasses for flights as as 10-ounce single pours. To-go meads can be purchased in bottles and cans.

Hungry customers can order food from Java Vino and have it brought downstairs, or bring their mead upstairs to the coffee and wine shop’s dining room.

Schoendorf, who worked in the alcohol industry before turning his attention full-time to mead, said the “oldest form of alcohol” appealed to him because of its history and under-the-radar status.

“It’s relatively undiscovered, so I can effectively be the first person to introduce someone to this category, and therefore kind of blow their minds,” he said. “What I’m trying to do is show how flexible this product is.”

To that end, some of Monks’ meads play like traditional wines or roses, while a high-gravity variety tastes like a Belgian beer, and some session meads taste like a kettle sour, Schoendorf said.

“You can go in a lot of different directions, and there are no rules,” he said.

While mead production will continue mostly at Southern Brewing Company, the tasting room will serve as space for a pilot program to produce small-batch products.

In addition to selling Monks products, the meadery will work with local honey producers to sell honey and honey-based products, including vinegars and lip balms.

Monks Meadery will be open from 5-9 p.m. Wednesdays-Fridays and 1-7 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays.

579 N. Highland Ave. NE, Atlanta.

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