A Friend in Mead...
Being a veteran owned company ourselves, 573 Magazine proudly supports the troops, our veterans, and other veteran owned businesses. Today, while taking a break from visiting the beautiful parks around the City of Festus, we got the privilege of while sharing a laugh with a new friend and sampling the best mead I’ve personally ever tasted!
Not many people have heard of mead, and it’s not really something you can order in the club or pick up at your local liquor store. Good mead can be kind of hard to get (even online sometimes), so finding a local place where you can physically go and hang out to drink it is pretty sweet!
So what exactly is mead?
Well, according to most sources out there, it’s the oldest known alcoholic beverage. Made from fermenting honey with water, mead has been a popular drink for around 9,000 years at least, and has popped up in multiple ancient civilizations around the world including China, Egypt, and the Viking culture. Mostly being associated with the latter, the thought of mead often brings to mind a band of large barbarian warriors who fight side by side and then drink to their victory and health, toasting and singing with large steins in a grand hall by a fiery stone hearth. If that’s what you picture, add a little American pride and a splash of modern style and you’ve got Four Brothers Mead.
Four Brothers Mead on Main Street in Festus, Missouri had its grand opening on March 28, 2020. The fact that this brand new small local meadery business survived the lockdown, even opening the same week as the mandated quarantine, speaks volumes on the strength and determination of the owners and the quality of their product. Of course, this story of local American heroes overcoming the odds in the face of adversity grabbed our interest immediately...and we had to know more.
Co-owner and proud local veteran, Dan Luck served our country by joining the Air Force in late 2003 as an Air Transportation Airmen and was deployed as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom in early 2004 under the 5th Expeditionary Air Mobility Squadron. Soldier, surviving small business owner, & successful meathier, Dan Luck sure seems to know how to beat the odds...with bravery, skill, and sticking with what works.
...Dan Luck sure seems to know how to beat the odds...
Descending from the Northern Germanic Tribes (Norse Vikings, Saxons, and Celts), the brothers at Four Brothers Mead are taking Mead back to their ancestral roots, the way it was meant to be. “The drink of the gods.”
"It ties into our ancestry and who we are as the Four Brothers..."
“The theme of our place here is more of an old Norse, or Viking time period. It ties into our ancestry and who we are as the Four Brothers...We just wanted to create that original, old, true, traditional mead.” said Dan. "You ready for a taste?"
As my mouth began to water, Dan started to pour the different meads into six small glasses that were set in a little wooden tray, and one extra on the side. Once the Flight + 1 was served, it was bottoms up!
The first one we tried was Odins Hrafn. A straight basic traditional honey mead, Odins Hrafn is the foundation for all of the other meads at Four Brothers. The smell was very natural and subtly sweet, and reminded me of dandelion wine. As it coated my mouth and throat I could taste the honey, but the sweetness was very subtle and pleasant, similar to a semi dry wine, but with an entirely different flavor. It didn’t overwhelm like many wines. It was almost soothing, with a strong kick, and sent an instant warmth through my body that radiated to all of my being.
Next was Aesir Moon. The traditional mead, but aged with orange peel, this dry, yet somehow refreshing mead had an exciting flavor. You can definitely taste the notes of the orange peel, lots of orange flavor, but at the same time it wasn’t too citrusy or sweet. Highly enjoyable, this mead was a treat for both the nose and the palate!
Number 3 was Ironsides Reign. The traditional mead with added blackberry, this was another, not too overly sweet, dryer mead. Absolutely delicious, Ironsides Reign is fruity, but not at all acidic. Strong, with a light refreshing taste, Ironsides Reign has a subtly sweet wild blackberry flavor. I was fortunate enough to get to try this one both room temp and chilled. Both ways are awesome, but having it served chilled makes the taste even more refreshing and somehow sweeter.
...comfort & joy...
Next up was Heimdalls Horn. A traditional mead aged in cinnamon, nutmeg, and all spice, Heimdalls Horn was like drinking a mazer of straight Christmas. Once again, the sweetness is subtle, but the spices and flavors are so vibrant you can taste each one of them almost individually, bringing to mind the embracing aroma of a warm kitchen while baking gingerbread. Served room temperature, or even warmed up, this mead brings both comfort & joy, like Christmas in a bottle.
The next mead has a very interesting name. In Norse mythology, Yggdrasil was the sacred tree at the center of the cosmos that held the 9 worlds together. Yggdrasil Sap is a honey mead aged with maple, and totally lives up to the legend it’s named after. Four Brothers Mead partners with Summit Maple Farm, a veteran owned maple farm in Vermont, and uses their maple for Yggdrasil Sap exclusively. Not syrupy, but very sweet, Yggdrasil Sap is strong, rich, and refreshing all at the same time! Normally I don’t really care for sweet drinks, I prefer a more robust or even spicy flavor, but Yggdrasil Sap is absolutely delicious! A subtle maple flavor, and an almost fruity undertone, with a smooth and very soothing finish...if you prefer the sweeter cocktails, this is the mead for you.
...release the Kraken!
Next, it was time to release the Kraken! Bjarga Kraken is the traditional honey mead, with coffee. Four Brothers Mead uses a veteran owned business exclusively for this mead ingredient as well...Got Your Six Coffee Company. Bjarga is a Norse term meaning to protect and to watch over, and the Kraken, (which of course is the legendary Norse sea monster that dwells off the coast of Norway and Greenland taking down whole ships of sailors) is the logo for the Got Your Six Coffee Company. It is amazing! I mean, it was like sitting down to enjoy GOOD COFFEE. You can taste the freshly crushed beans, brewed perfectly, no grit...it was just wonderful! Bjarga Kraken is my absolute favorite thus far!
Last but certainly not least, number 7, was Frenrir’s Bite (which was named for the giant wolf son of the Norse god, Loki). The newest addition to the Four Brothers Mead Menu, Frenrir’s Bite is the traditional mead aged in a 21% Rye bourbon barrel with added oak staves, yielding a dangerously good mead with a nice smooth bourbon. Tying Bjarga Kraken for the table favorite, Frenrirs Bite is super tasty! With a hint of sweet and a bourbon flavor that starts out very subtle and slowly creeps up on you the way the warmth gradually spreads through your body when you take a snog of whiskey, Frenrirs Bite has all the flavor and comfort of enjoying fine bourbon, with none of the whiskey bite.
“This one is one of my favorites.” Said Dan as he swirled his mead around the glass. “This is the mead aged in a bourbon barrel. It’s our first pass at it, and it turned out remarkably well. It will be a seasonal item featured here at the meadery.”
With this new, 7th flavor being such a success, will you be expanding the flight trays to hold 7?
“We’re always coming up with more flavors, like continually, and the idea is to mix up the rotation and get to the point where we can mix and match and you can choose which 6 you would like to sample.”
Who are the Four Brothers?
“So, Four Brothers Mead...there’s four of us, four brothers. Myself, my brother by birth, I have a brother-in-law, who married my sister, and then the fourth is a brother-in-arms. You know, I mean, there’s no particular order between the four of us, but Bryan, our brother in arms, was deployed with Joe and Chris, the other two brothers, to Iraq and Afghanistan and that’s how they all got to know each other.”
Bryan Becker enlisted in the Army in 2008 as a Combat Medic and ETS’d as a Sergeant this year. To date he has had two overseas deployments with one to Iraq and one to Afghanistan. During this time, he became close friends with Chris and Joe.
Joe Luck enlisted in the Army in 2007 as Military Police, where he met Bryan and Chris. Over the next few years the three became close and were introduced to Dan at a family BBQ. After a full contract, one short extension, and a deployment in Iraq, Joe ETS’d as a Staff Sergeant in November 2015. Starting in 2014 Joe served as local law enforcement in St. Louis, MO. Joe now continues his service to our country and communities as a law enforcement agent.
Chris enlisted in the Army in 2005 and is currently serving in active reserve status as a Military Police Staff Sergeant. Bryan and Joe later joined Chris’s unit and deployed shortly after to Iraq. Then in 2010, Chris deployed to Afghanistan for his second tour and was operating out of FOB Salerno. Down the road, Chris, Bryan, and Joe became close friends; and after another tour to Afghanistan in 2015, Chris went on to marry Joe’s sister, Eva, and met Dan. Chris is currently overseas, deployed somewhere top secret in the Middle East, but if all goes as planned, he’ll be back in the Spring.
So, how did Four Brothers Mead get started?
“The Four of us, being as close as family can get, and even closer than many families today, we enjoy mead and it ties in with our ancestry, and the history of our cultures...and I can remember the day, the one time, we were sitting around and drinking mead and we had the idea to really kind of start our own. We never could find a mead that didn’t taste like wine. You know wine has the sulfites, and a lot of other additives, and a lot of meads out there are very similar to that. So we wanted to make a truly traditional mead; water, honey, and yeast. And that’s it...as old as the most traditional recipes.
The way we make it is the same way they’ve been making it more than 1,000 years...but yeah, the Four Brothers, we decided to go out and start our own, it was just home-brewing. So we would make it around the house and if we got a bottle or two for the holidays or whatnot, that’s kind of what the intent was. But as we continued to grow, you know, you hand a bottle to your family and friends...and word got out from there...and then friends of friends started asking...and pretty soon we’re getting a lot of requests in, and we had to make a decision...So that’s when we decided to create the business and officially take it to the next level...the commercial realm.”
I noticed Four Brothers Mead partners with multiple other veteran owned companies, can you tell us more about that?
“We try to partner with as many veteran owned businesses as we can. Being veteran owned ourselves, we know the importance of supporting our other brothers in arms. All the way from our mead products to our merchandise, we always try to use veteran owned whenever possible.”
What’s next for Four Brothers Mead?
“We’re gonna make an apple pie. Think of the cinnamon mead with a little apple or apple cider to give it more of an apple pie flavor. Another one we’re actively working on is a chocolate mead, which I didn’t know what to think of at first, and I made a small, small batch, like a one gallon thing, early on, and it was probably the best mead I had ever made. It was phenomenal. So we’re making it again on a larger scale, so we’ll hope to have that available, if not by Christmas, definitely by Valentine’s Day for sure.”
Well, I will definitely be back to try that! Until then 573, be happy, be healthy, be well!
573 Magazine would like to Thank Four Brothers Mead for their Service to this great country. Your sacrifice, and the sacrifice of our other brave active troops and veterans who have and continue to safeguard America and the freedoms we hold so dear is much appreciated. Thank You for Your Service.
words by aj koehler
pics by t. smugala