Hey, Honey

IM44 Feature mead

Michael Fairbrother was never sweet on his career. As an engineer and later vice president and chief operating officer of software companies, the New Hampshire native’s day job was a drag. His heart lay in homebrewing, though he was hardly monogamous with barley. Since his introduction to cyser—a mead made with apple cider and honey—at a homebrew-club meeting in 1995, Fairbrother has been infatuated with making mead, one of mankind’s oldest alcoholic beverages. Mix honey with water, wait for its natural yeasts to convert sugars into alcohol and you have mead. Its discovery was likely serendipity. In the New Hampshirite’s hands, serendipity became honed artistry.

Over the subsequent decade, he began blending meads with blueberries, black currants and Vietnamese cinnamon, creating balanced, complex honey wines. Accolades stacked up and, in 2007, Fairbrother received the first of three straight New England Mead Maker of the Year titles. Could he make mead a career? In 2009, Fairbrother bumped into Surly Brewing founder Omar Ansari at a conference in Boston. Fairbrother mentioned that he wanted to open a meadery, likely part-time. “[Omar] said, ‘How can you do something you love part-time?’ ” Fairbrother recalls. “He changed my life with a single sentence.”

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