Vintner Profiles is a post series that puts a spotlight on one of their East Bay Vintner Alliance winemaker members.
Dan Cook is one of the founders of Mead Kitchen, located in Berkeley. Founded in 2013 (thought Dan has been a brewer since about 1998) there is as much buzz around this young Kitchen as the bees he sources from locally to supply the base of his brews.
What is Mead?
Fermenting diluted honey produces Mead, thus it is neither wine (which is made from grapes) nor beer (which is made from grain). At The Mead Kitchen, we refer to Mead as the “3rd Leg of the Fermented Alcohol Tripod”. It usually contains a range of 8%- to 18% alcohol.
It is often flavored with a variety of fruits and spices. At The Mead Kitchen we currently offer meads flavored with tart cherries, fresh oranges and ginger root, and whole leaf Simcoe hops.
It is the original alcoholic beverage, with archeological evidence of its production dating from 10,000 BCE. At The Mead Kitchen, we think that if you are on the Paleo diet, the only appropriate alcoholic beverage is mead.
Dan worked at Berkeley’s Bison Brewing while working toward a PhD in materials science and engineering at UC Berkeley in the late 80s and early 90s. After completing his degree, he traveled aboard to France and London, returning how to Richmond, VA. It was then he began his venture into home brewing. At first bring beer, a friend suggested he tried mead, which was both delicious and fun to make. Dan was intrigued at the prospect of making a libation of which he was only vaguely familiar.
Fast-forward to his return to the Bay Area where he met Berkeley-based Urbano Cellars owners Bob Rawson and Fred Dick, a fortunate event it turns out. Dan was introduced to the collaborative and supportive culture of urban winemakers. He helped Bob and Fred with their crush in 2012, and the next year began renting space from them to make his mead.
What is coming out of the Mead Kitchen?
Dan estimates that more than a hundred different recipes were tested and refined to develop the mead he offers today. The Mead Kitchen currently offers three different flavored meads: Orange-Ginger, Simcoe (hops), and Cherry. They source all their ingredients locally, both the fruit and the honey. The Mead Kitchen is on tap at select bars throughout the Bay Area – see below for a link to a list.
For a great profile on Dan’s journey in mead, check out this in-depth post on the local Foie Gras and Funnel Cakes blog, and learn how an electric blanket prevented a mead disaster.
Click here for a list of Bay Area spots to enjoy their mead.