Savannah is a beautiful place to be in December. It’s cold, but not bitterly so, and the sun has been shining since we arrived. It’s gorgeous to see shining off of the Savannah River in the mornings when I go out to walk along the riverfront. The streets aren’t too crowded, of course, which is nice as it makes it easier to maintain distance. And honestly, the masks are nice for keeping the chill off of your face.
My family and I came here for a vacation that was booked last year after our first jaunt to the city. Of course, the trip looks different than we thought it might; we’re spending most of our time in our lodgings or outside, away from other people, and we’re toting masks and sanitizer wherever we go, touching as little as possible. Still, I’ve been able to explore a little while looking for Christmas presents in the small businesses here.
One of the places I visited on my wanders as the afternoon wore on was the Savannah Bee Company on River Street. I love the Savannah Bee Company; when we visited last year, I bought a small sampling jar of their whipped lemon honey and it was gone nearly before I got home (yes, I picked up more of it) and their Tupelo honey is so nice in herbal teas.
I discovered that Savannah Bee offers mead tastings when another couple asked to be a part of one. I was concerned that they wouldn’t be able to do it right now, but after talking to one of the lovely worker “bees,” I discovered that I would be able to enjoy a tasting class. The bar was freshly cleaned and just opened, with plexiglass shielding up between me and the barkeep, who was decked out in a mask (worn properly, thank goodness) and gloves. Between that and the large, limited capacity store offering more than six feet between myself and everyone else, I felt incredibly safe, which was nice.
I lined up with the couple and listened as our confident barkeep (whose name I sadly never caught) explained what mead was, and where it came from. I’d known that honey was practically immortal, but I hadn’t known that it was because honey is technically a kind of condensed nectar, and therefore doesn’t have enough water in it to foster bacteria or spoiling. I also didn’t know that mead was the oldest form of alcohol produced because of honey’s tendencies toward preservation.
Mead, as he explained, is composed simply of honey, water, and yeast. What differentiates kinds of mead are the types of honey (which change based on the kind of flower the bees are fed, another fact I hadn’t known) and the kind of yeast used to ferment it. And what differences they made!
We tried seven different kinds of meads, which ranged in flavor from the beer-like, dry Nectar of the Hops from Redstone Meadery to the light, fruity Pollen-Nation from Crafted Artisan Meadery to the XR Cyser (yes, it’s a pun) from St. Ambrose Meadery, which tasted like liquid apple pie! It was a lovely experience, topped off by the fact that our barkeep was knowledgeable and willing to engage with us when we asked him questions about the ingredients and flavor notes in each different mead.
I would love to do this kind of tasting again! As a girl who’s picky about her wines and doesn’t like beer, I felt like this was a perfect middle ground; the meads were sweet but not overwhelming and light enough to enjoy in the midafternoon. I felt like it was $12 well spent. On top of that, the staff was sweet (no pun intended) and accommodating, helping keep everyone well served and safe.
If you’re in Savannah, I’d recommend stopping into the Savannah Bee Company for some quality honey and delicious mead with a solidly interesting backstory.