Experimental mead making in Maine creates drafts with raw local honey, water, wild yeast, plus ‘mystery and happy surprises’.
Portland, Maine’s Urban Farm Fermentory (UFF) was born out of a love for bees. When owner Eli Cayer bought a couple hives and began beekeeping, he eventually had more honey than he could handle. The excess turned into his first batch of mead; a door to the world of fermentation opened. Cayer has continued to play with ingredients ever since, and in 2010, he launched UFF, where he produces mead as well as hard cider and kombucha, a fermented tea.
The real joy in fermentation for Cayer comes in allowing natural ingredients to work together to create something else. “I am able to get out of the way and let things evolve on their own,” Cayer explains. “There is a lot of mystery and happy surprises. And if I am increasing people’s well being in the process, we’re all better off.”
UFF’s mead is made from raw local honey, filtered water, and the wild yeast from UFF’s own farmhouse-style cider, which is created using only the natural sugars and yeasts in Maine apples. The result is an exceptionally clean beverage with balanced flower and honey flavors, and slight acidity and carbonation.
UFF experiments with different sweetness levels (based on fermentation time) as well as homegrown ingredients to create rotating batches of dry, semi-sweet, and sweet meads, as well as sweet and sour flavors using kombucha cultures. You probably won’t find a sour lemon balm mead anywhere else, but you have to come to Portland to try it. Meads are only available on draft in UFF’s downtown tasting room, where the public is encouraged to gather, taste, and experiment with blends. Flavors change frequently, and Cayer aims to continually respond to the feedback he gets at the tasting bar.