Hard Honey (Downeast Cider House)

Style: Session Mead

5.1% ABV

From: Charlestown, MA

Brewer’s Note: “Our take on the world’s oldest drink combines pure orange blossom honey with fresh apple cider for a clean, easy-drinking session mead.”


So Downeast is a funky cider house literally underneath the Tobin Bridge in Charlestown, MA. They had their start in Maine, however, and are creating superbly fresh and delicious cider in a can. I plan on getting around to reviewing their cider sometime soon, but I keep drinking all of the cans I have of it before I review it, so the review may take a while. Fortunately, I got a four pack of their new spring release (which is technically not being released till Saturday, but shoosh). Hard Honey is a session mead, which is a brilliant idea. I’ve had it once before paired with a fresh slice of orange and it was delicious. Here goes the review:


The can’s design is funky, fresh, and screams spring/summertime at me. Love the honeycomb background and all of the graphics. The water that surrounds the honey pot is oddly gorgeous and eye catching. I also love the various fonts, especially the Downeast title font with its worn and urban feel. Clutter is minimal and is mostly due to the government mandated section on the side of the can. I dig this can.


The mead pours like dehydrated piss or lemonade… You take your pick on the descriptor. A light carbonation causes a fizzley, soda-pop head that quickly dissipates, though the top of the mead continues to be prickled by bubbles. In body, the mead is cloudy, like a fresh pressed lemonade. Only a ghost of the other side of the glass can be glimpsed through the haze. On the nose, the mead smells of a yeasty, bready funk blended with a kiss of tart citrus and apple juice. Subtle honey scents can also be picked out as you shove your nose into the glass, as well as the ghost of cinnamon and cloves. On the tongue, the mead tastes sweet with an acidic pop. The sweetness begins bready and then morphs into rich honey sweetness while the acidity slowly builds into soft citric tartness. The mead seems to be a nice balancing act between the sweet and acidic tastes. In flavor, it brings fresh lemonade, subtle apple juice, and raw honey across the tongue. Towards the end of the sip, the honey mingles a little with the yeasty flavor to give us a hint of honey and toast, which is further accented in the aftertaste. The finish also carries subtle hints of orange juice as it splashes down the gullet. In the mouth, the mead begins like seltzer water or soda with fizzling carbonation that mellows more towards a champagne-feel by the end of the sip. The beer feels on the light side of medium in body with a crisp mouthfeel that gets only slightly syrupy on the finish and provides for superb drinkability. Overall, this is the warmer months in a glass. Crisp and expressive, citric and sweet, and just dying to be blended and mixed with everything. Downeast has nailed the session mead on the head. I’ve heard mixed reviews from others that have tried this, and I’m sure it’s not for everyone, but for me it is delicious.


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