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Fermented honey: The new San Francisco gold.

 

What do you get when you take honey, organic fruit, yeast, and water; dump it in a vat; and leave it for one to three years? Good things, as Oron Benary will be happy to tell you. Since 2012, he and his wife, Sarah, have owned the San Francisco Mead Company, a Bayview outfit that makes the fermented honey beverage.

Using local ingredients like Sonoma Gravenstein apples and Mendocino forest honey, the Benarys avoid adding sulfites or sugar to their brews, instead letting time do the work of bringing out the flavors, a process that requires at least 12 to 14 months. Their first three meads—Orange Blossom, California Gold, and apple Pie—hit store shelves last year.

Late this summer, the Benarys will release an orange blossom mead that’s been aged in chardonnay barrels; come fall, they’ll add a blackberry variety aged in pinot barrels. “As far as I know no one else is doing this,” Oron says of his wine barrel–aging method, as excited as his customers to taste the new products.

 

 

Originally published in the August issue of San Francisco

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