Mead, often referred to as "the nectar of the gods," is one of the oldest known alcoholic beverages, with a rich history dating back thousands of years. This ancient fermented drink is created by blending honey, water, and yeast. The primary ingredient in mead is honey, and the final product's flavor, aroma, and characteristics depend mainly on the type and quality of honey used. Honey can range from light and delicate varieties to dark and robust ones, each lending unique flavors and aromas to the mead.
To make mead, one starts by mixing the honey with water, creating a sweet solution known as the "mixture." The proportion of honey to water varies depending on the desired sweetness and strength of the mead, but a typical ratio is around 2-3 pounds of honey per gallon of water. Yeast is then added to the must, kickstarting the fermentation process. The yeast consumes the sugars in the honey, converting them into alcohol and carbon dioxide. This fermentation can take weeks to months, depending on the desired outcome—too many outcomes to count because Mead can also be customized with various additional ingredients. These can include fruits, spices, or herbs, which are added during the fermentation or aging process to enhance flavor complexity.
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Mead's resurgence in popularity recently, with meaderies and homebrewers experimenting with new and exciting flavors, demonstrates its enduring appeal. This ancient libation continues to captivate the taste buds of modern aficionados, connecting us to our ancestors who once sipped this divine beverage. We recently met with a mead "mad scientist" in Ste. Genevieve to tell us all about her delicious concoctions. Meet Bridget Bennett, owner of the Brix Urban Winery and Market.
My name is Bridge Bennett, and I am one of the co-owners of Brix Urban Winery and Market. We make mead, fruit wines, and imperial ciders. I was initially born in Ste Gen. and then later moved away. I have a degree in chemistry from Southeast Missouri State and started in the flavor industry out of college, working in St. Louis for 25 years.
Mead is basically fermented honey and water. We add water, yeast, and honey together for a mixture of 22 % alcohol or less. We can add fruit spices to that honey to create different flavors of mead. We also make some craft fruit wines, some barrel-aged fruit wines, and some imperial ciders, which means it's high in alcohol.
...too many outcomes to count because Mead can also be customized with various additional ingredients.
This building used to be a home. It was built in 1908 and was then the local hospital in Ste. Genevieve. It became a radio station, and then, in the eighties, it became the Ste. Genevieve Winery. When they retired, we purchased the property from them and opened Brix Urban Winery and Market. We have been here for three years now.
The arbor makes a great place to sip some mead.
The grapevine-covered arbor was built in the eighties by the St. Genevieve Winery. Our customers love it out there. In the winter, we even have fires to warm your soul. We don't use any grapes in our meads and fruit wines; we use all honey and other fruits, and then naturally, our ciders are apple-based.
Our honey comes from different sources. There are different honey tastes based on what the bees pollinate. Most of our local honey comes from a farm in Bloomsdale. They manage a hive here downtown for us, and then we get some unique honey from Hawaii and some from the Pacific Northwest that taste like toasted marshmallows.
My background is in chemistry. Chemistry and physics are the basis of all things, hence my major in chemistry and minor in physics. My business partner is also a chemistry major with a PhD in pharmacology. As a flavor chemist in St. Louis, I made flavors for candy, alcohol, and pet food flavors—no, I didn't eat much pet food (Ha Ha). Anyways, I was looking for a way to kind of semi-retire, and this seemed like a fun way to do it. I love the environment and still explore some creativity.
I was born here in St. Genevieve and was familiar with the town, and when we saw the St. Genevieve winery was for sale, we pressed go and haven't looked back since.
I love mead. I've always been very interested in producing mead and cider. Mead is a very creative alcohol, and it tastes great. It's similar to the craft beer industry several years ago, and you can get creative with many of the meads by adding spices and fruits and caramelizing the honey. It's almost endless the creativity you have with mead.
...our High Gravity mead that we aged in a barrel.
Our Wild Flower mead won a gold medal for the state of Missouri last year. And then we have a traditional sweet mead. We have one aged on Madagascar, vanilla bean and coffee. We have a dry one—you only see a few dry meads, but we do make dry meads. Some age for a year. We also have some, like blackberry and cherry. We are getting ready to release our High Gravity mead that we aged in a barrel.
We have a website, and we ship to 40 different states through a company called Veno Shipper. We are also on social media, Facebook and Instagram. We market to various people with different events like a brewery would. And we go for the younger crowd and some of the traditional wine drinkers to introduce them to me.
We have live music events throughout the year. We also do some fun events like our Halloween event. We participate in a lot of the festivals downtown. We try to participate in every way possible to make things fun and unique.
So Get Out There to Brix Urban in Old Ste. Gen. Relax and sip the mead.
Words, pics, and empty mead bottles by the Supreme Leader of 573 Magazine.
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