By: Danielle Andrus
In a small, quiet community located on the outskirts of Fredericton’s Northside, the world’s oldest fermented beverage in existence -mead - is being produced, perfected and sold.
Sunset Heights Meadery, the only full-time cottage meadery in New Brunswick, began production in 2013. Owned by John Way and Deb Wilson, the meadery has already won more than six major awards, including a recent sweep at the Mazer Cup International in Colorado, the world's largest international mead competition.
“When you win medals, they’re gigantic,” said John, the co-founder of Sunset Heights Meadery and Pollen Angels. “And then when you win the sweep of all three medals within a category, you own that category. So we own session sweet right now in the world.”
Mead is a historically treasured alcoholic beverage usually made from honey, water and fermented with yeast. John and his wife Deb first became intrigued by it on a craft brewery excursion in New Hampshire in 2013. Though they were planning to open their own brewery, John was curious about the world of mead, having tried to make it in the past. They set out on a tour of Moonlight Meadery, one of the most successful meaderies in the United States, unaware of how this visit was going to change their lives.
“After the tour, Deb turned to me and said, ‘Tell me again why we are opening a brewery?’,” John said. As his wife began to list off reasons why she enjoyed mead, it became clear that starting up a meadery was in their best interest.
With this in mind, John went back into Moonlight Meadery and reintroduced himself to the owner, Michael Fairbrother. After a long chat, Michael offered them a detailed crash course on how to create amazing mead to bring back to the New Brunswick market. John and Deb spent some time learning how to make mead from Michael and his head fermentation brewer. They then started Sunset Heights Meadery.