I was recently able to visit Western New York’s “First and Finest” Meadery, 810 Meadworks. It is located between Buffalo and Rochester, in a small town called Medina.
It is a cozy little building with a bar and a few small tables. But don’t let the venue’s small size fool you, they have a huge drink menu. They sell reasonably priced tasters in sets of 3, but even then it took a fair amount of sharing among the group I visited with to try most of their 20 or so varieties they had available. Even more impressive, was that even with this huge assortment, there weren’t any real slackers in the lineup. They were all pretty good. And some were exceptional.
When I was there, 810 had an experimental PBJ Sandwhich batch as their featured mead. This was a limited release, but I’m hoping it sees enough popularity that they keep it around. It was my favorite of the bunch, and I actually got a bottle of it to take with me. Unlike another PBJ flavored mead I’ve had, the peanuts were really prominent.
Old Lunch Bucket
Carbonated, saison-style, with lemon, peppercorns, and Soarchi Ace hops. 7% abv.
Carbonated, IPA-style, with Cascade, Simcoe, and Nugget hops. 7% abv.
This was a light and refreshing drink. Very crisp with a citrus nose. It did not have a very strong flavor profile, but that made it easy to drink. Was slightly sparkling.
Crown the Elders
Wildflower honey with elderberry. 13% abv.
Pound of Silence
Alfalfa honey with pears. 13% abv.
Another lightly flavored drink. The alfalfa honey is much more prominent than the pear flavoring, which comes through a little in the finish. Has a sweet scent. This was my least favorite of the lot, actually. It was interesting, as I had yet to experience an alfalfa honey before, but it had a touch of harshness to the aftertaste. I’m curious what this would be like as a sweeter mead. Pear is a very delicate flavor that I’m not sure comes through well in drier drinks.
Carbonated, blueberry honey with apples and cranberries. 8% abv.
This drink had a nice, tart berry flavor to it. The nose is definitively apple, though, and is quite strong. Taking that first sip come as a bit of a surprise with that deceptive scent. Overall, a nice drink.
Carbonated, light amber honey with lemons, lavender, and green tea. 8% abv.
This mead had a very strong lemon nose to it. It had a nice acidity and combined with the carbonation, gives you that mouth-watering sensation.
I Love Gingers
Carbonated, mesquite honey with ginger. 8% abv.
Very strong ginger scent. Has a bit of that ginger bite to it. Straight forward, but enjoyable flavor.
This one is a collaboration brew with Leonard Oakes Estate Winery. Blueberry and wildflower honey and a blend of heritage apples. 8% abv.
This has a strong apple nose and flavor. Very cider-esque. Has a good blend of that crisp, slightly tart apple flavor and sweetness.
Jigger of Madness
Scorched buckwheat and clover honey aged in bourbon barrels. 10% abv.
This one was very interesting. It had a rich, dark coloring. The bourbon and oak notes come through nicely, adding a complexity to the mead. A bottle of this was purchased by the group.
Clover and buckwheat honey with vanilla beans and coffee beans. 11% abv.
My Lady Rita
Alfalfa honey with agave, oranges, and limes. 12% abv.
This was a margarita inspired mead. Very strong sweet citric nose. Had a nice mouthwatering acidity to it. This was one of my girlfriend’s favorites and we ended up with a bottle of this as well.
Carbonated, orange-blossom honey with vanilla beans and lactose. 8% abv.
This was another of my favorites. A delightful orangey scent. The actual orange flavor is somewhat subtle, coming in at the end. The lactose gives it a very smooth texture, and it is very easy to drink. A nice amount of sweetness to it. Everything you’d expect from a creamsicle.
Ling Ling A Ting
Light amber honey with mint, chocolate, and lactose. 8% abv.
This mead smells just like an Andes Mint, and is very reminiscent of the grasshopper cocktail. It is another very smooth, creamy textured mead and is very easy to drink. The mint flavor itself is subtle, and not overpowering. It’s fun, it’s sweet. Try it, you’ll enjoy the experience.
Clover honey with maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. 11% abv.
Sweet scent. Very mapley. This is a very thick mead, meaning it’s fairly sweet. The spices add a nice bit of complexity to it so it doesn’t taste like straight syrup. This was another of the group’s favorites.
Orange-blossom honey with Assam black tea and fresh oranges. 13% abv.
Wildflower honey with black currants, black tea, rose petals and oil of bergamot. 13% abv.
This was very reminiscent of a port wine. It has a pleasant floral nose, and a deep purple coloring. It is sweet, with a bit of a tart finish. It has a nice body to it, as well as a mouthwatering acidity.
Mixed-berry honey infused with fresh strawberries. 14% abv.
Clover honey with Riesling grapes and peaches. 14% abv.
Very similar to a Riesling wine, although a bit sweeter than you might expect one of those to be. The peach is very subtle, almost entirely in the aftertaste. Not much of a nose on it at all, but is easy to drink.
Barrel-Aged Maple Tap
Small batch of the Maple tap aged in a local bourbon barrel. 12% abv.