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21 Days of Local Drink – Starrlight Mead

Conventional wisdom advises that habits are ingrained after 21 days of repetition. If that theory holds true, then the eat~play~shop local habit requires time and effort to develop. Each month I’ll share “21 Days” of some event, place or organization in the Triangle, enabling (and I mean that in the most positive sense possible) your inner Localista to come out and join us. This month it’s all about locally crafted beverages of many persuasions: beer, wine, coffee, spirits and more.

Starrlight Mead is crafted from NC wildflower honey  made by NC bees.
Starrlight Mead is crafted from NC wildflower honey made by NC bees.

In many cases, crafting the perfect beverage takes patience, persistence and dedication before the effort pays off. In February 2006 after several years as home mead makers, Ben and Becky Starr entered their first mead competition and took home the Best in Show award in the home mead-maker category at the International Mead Association’s Mead Festival. Fast forward to September 2010 when Starrlight Mead opened their honey winery in an industrial building turned state-of-the-art winery and medieval-inspired tasting room at The Village at Chatham Mills. This September Starrlight Mead will celebrate their fourth anniversary at the meadery, though they’ve been honing their skills and sharing their love of mead for many years more than that.

Although there are a couple of hives on the property, Starrlight Mead buys most of their NC wildflower honey from local NC beekeepers. They transform the raw product into the fermented beverage that dates back to the Egyptians. Their traditional off-dry mead took the Bronze Medal at the 2012 Mazer Cup International mead-only competition. They describe it as a “honey wine with just a hint of sweetness” and suggest that it’s best served lightly chilled. But mead is versatile. Starrlight’s Spiced Apple mead, enhanced with spices of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg, can be served warmed gently in a slow cooker and is best enjoyed on a crisp Fall evening (in my opinion). A recent addition to the product line at Starrlight are herb infused meads. In March 2014, Starrlight released a Chai Tea Mead, blending spices of cardamom, ginger, and cinnamon creating a beverage reminiscent of a cup of that exotic spiced tea with honey.

The meadery in Pittsboro is open weekly, Thursday through Sunday for tastings and tours (see the website for hours and directions). Starrlight hosts and participates in several special events throughout the year, but you’ll want to circle August 2, 2014 on your calendar for Mead Day 2014, their biggest event of the year. Keep up with the latest news by signing up for their newsletter, liking them on Facebook and following along on Twitter. They get ye to the meadery for a taste of the sweet life.

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