Although times are certainly changing, when discussing mead around these parts, we must first dispense with the clichéd formalities: In North Texas, mead (aka, honey wine) has more or less been something that the one friend of yours who is way too into Scarborough Faire has insisted you try because, “Honestly, it’s not that different from beer, I promise!”
And don’t look now, but that offbeat friend of yours is gaining more allies by the minute, thanks to the growing number of meaderies opening around the country and especially here in Texas. Breaking Brew Meadery, sitting just off Belt Line Road where Farmers Branch and Addison meet, is the first meadery in the area, but judging by how enjoyably enlightening our visit was, it is likely to have competition soon enough.
Situated in a typical suburban strip center, Breaking Brew has been open almost a year. The inside is a comfortable, modern space primed for breaking preconceptions on what many assume to be the usual mead drinking environment. Currently offering nine meads on tap, our friendly bartender, who happened to be Gary Gordon, the co-owner, said they aim to introduce new flavors every three to four weeks. Gordon says they source the honey, which is fermented on site, from Walker Honey Farms in Rogers, Texas, just a couple of hours south.
After sampling each of Breaking Brew’s offerings, which Gordon called “session meads” due to lower ABV percentages than traditional meads, the surprising variety in flavor profiles and sweetness levels was a refreshing revelation. Unlike ciders, where you often easily detect apples, or wine, where grapes are the dominant element, the honey base in these meads seemed to be more of a conduit to something unique, rather than the overpowering star of the show.
That’s why choices such as the Bee Sting (6.1% ABV), with its heavy, fresh jalapeño nose and slight lime kick on the tongue, required a few purposeful sips in order to fully comprehend. Thanks to the array of unexpected flavors and the carbonation from the draft system, the difference between these meads and say, something from Bishop Cider’s tap room, is minimal to the novice drinker.
And similarly, to Bishop, Breaking Brew operates under a winery license, and not any sort of brewery or brewpub license. That legal distinction means that, yes, you can purchase any of their current meads for offsite consumption in a growler or 16-ounce “crowler” cans they prepare in front of you.
All mead begins with the fermenting of honey. The specific flavor a mead ends up as depends on what ingredients are added later in the mead-making process. For Breaking Brew, their base mead, the one from which all of their others are built upon, is The Magician. With Texas Wildflower honey as the key component, the Magician comes in at 7.8% ABV, and is pleasantly clean and crisp, with a dry finish that betrays the hint of vanilla detected early on in the sip.
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The effervescent Ginger Bear (5.9% ABV) smelled like summer thanks to its addictive ginger aroma and tasted every bit as bright. If you’re looking for a way to improve upon your usual Dark and Stormy cocktail recipe, this would be an ideal sub for the can of ginger beer that’s been sitting in the back of your fridge since last summer.
The fruit-forward options were just as impressive as the lighter-colored meads available. Made with four types of cherry and blackberries, the 7% ABV Cherry Noir was tart without inducing any puckering, and the 6.1% ABV Ruby Solstice featured earthy tarragon to help ease the sour edge of the cranberry. The Cherry Bear, the darkest-colored of them all, had an ABV of only 5.9% but packed the biggest flavor punch of the lot. A juicy cherry blast, backed with a balanced dose of natural sweetness, and the rustic, wine-like tannin taste worked in wonderful harmony.
Over the course of a couple of hours one early Saturday afternoon, a number of couples and groups filtered in and out. Some drinkers were mead rookies, and some seemed to know exactly what they were getting into. Regardless of experience level, everyone enjoyed what they sipped. Local beer lovers take note: Breaking Brew Meadery is highly worthy of a spot in any beer lover’s brewery-visit rotation.
Breaking Brew Meadery, 14438 Midway Road (Farmers Branch)