Mead Lesson: Honey, You Don't Know Nothin' 'Bout Mead

And other Oregon beer news

Oregon has well over 100 breweries, nearly 700 wineries and at least half a dozen cideries but only a couple meaderies. Those figures sync up well with what the market demands—well, except for the fact that Oregonians drink about 11 million gallons of wine annually compared to 80 million gallons of beer.

They also roughly match our collective education level. We know beer. We know wine. We’re learning about cider. And if you don’t make one of these beverages at home, you can bet your home-roasted coffee beans your neighbor or friend does. But there’s so little awareness of mead. This Saturday from 5-8 pm, you can begin to rectify.

For Celiacs, the gluten intolerant, or fans of unusual fermentation, Kookoolan World Meadery is offering its first-ever meadmaking class including an array of sampling of both commercial and homemade honey wines. Expert meadmaker and mead writer Doug Remington, accompanied by Kookoolan Farm’s Chrissie Manion Zampoor, will lead students on a fermented journey across the world with meads from Poland, England, the Czech Republic and South Africa. Then it's back to Yamhill County, where they operate.

"In our class, Douglas will turn a bucket of honey into fermenting mead right before your eyes, and show you how you can easily do this at home yourself," says Zampoor. "If you think you don't like meads, or if you think meads ought to taste a lot better than most American meads do… we would like to knock your socks off."

Don't like mead? Chances are you don't know yet. The Kookoolan crew says that the meads available are bad: "Most are insipid, overly-sweet, and weakly alcoholic: roughly the mead equivalent of Budweiser, and no more representative of the genre of craftbrewing than Budweiser is."

The event is March 31, 5-8 p.m. at Kookoolan Farms, 15713 Hwy 47, Yamhill. $70 includes course materials, tasting, and small pairing plates plus $10 certificate to the farm store. Must be 21+. Email or call 503-730-7535.

Other Oregon beer news...

Lisa Morrison the Beer Goddess scooped me by revealing the name of Deschutes Brewing's former brewmaster Larry Sidor's formerly-yet-to-be-named brewery. The new and permanent name is Crux Fermentation Project, which "celebrates the moment where tension and conflict meet." One thing the press release neglected to mention is that the brewing company, er, fermentation project, is literally at the crux of Bend, as close to the nexus of Arizona Ave. and Highway 97. Look for bottles in the Portland market shortly after their June opening. Also notable: the outdoor area will boast a Bocce court, giving your hand not holding a glass of beer something to do.

The Beer Goddess also breaks the story of Full Sail's brewmaster John Harris—who was actually Deschutes' original brewmaster in 1988—testing the waters by launching a brewpub of his own, possibly in Southeast Portland. Harris has already procured the brewing equipment, but is shy on capital and a lease for now.

Finally, boomeranging back from beers to alternative fermentations, if you’re adventurous or just gluten-intolerant, then the Northwest Cider Association is holding its first Cidermaker’s Dinner in Portland at Clarklewis on April 4. While they claim that each of the four courses will be paired with two Northwest ciders, a total of 10 cideries will pour their fermented apply goodness. Tickets are $85 ($80 for NCA members).