Mead(n): an alcoholic drink of fermented honey and water
On first glance, it’s an unassuming beige building on Hood Street. But take a look inside door number six and you’ll be ushered into the whimsical world of Honeygirl Meadery.
An office, factory and showroom all in one, the dynamic space speaks to all sides of Diane Currier – the mead maker, seller and aficionado. Coming from a background in PR and advertising, Diane launched Honeygirl in October of 2014 and Durham’s been abuzz with the stuff ever since.
First introduced to mead during a trip to Alaska, Diane was intrigued by the beverage’s intimate connection to nature. When you consume mead, you’re essentially drinking the field, for its flavor is shaped by the routine of the bees that help create it. One of Honeygirl’s signatures, Orange Blossom, gets its fruity kick because its bees had citrus oils left on them from days in the orange groves.
“What does this community taste like? Where do its bees go? I love that aspect of it,” says Diane.
Diane adds some complexity to her lineup of eight meads by incorporating locally sourced fruits and plants. The strawberries in her strawberry batch come from McAdams Farm in Efland; her blueberry mead uses blueberries fresh from Rougemont. Though it’s proven difficult to find local beekeepers with enough honey to support her sizable batches, Diane has tried to do so wherever possible. Some of her darker honeys come from a Fayetteville beekeeper who manages upwards of sixty hives. In an age of intense colony collapse, Honeygirl seeks to assuage the plight of the bees.
Diane’s commitment to creating a local, sustainable product extends beyond the mead itself. The fanciful logo featured on all of Honeygirl’s bottles, T-shirts, cups and pamphlets was fashioned by a student at the Arts Institute in Durham. When it comes time to bottle her mead, Diane calls upon the locals once again. A few volunteers gather to turn out dozens of cases in a few hours and they leave Hood Street with their own bottle of fresh mead to show for it.
The first meadery in Durham and the third in the state of North Carolina, Honeygirl is looking to expand. But don’t expect it to happen overnight. The fermenting process takes nine months to a year and arrivals of new batches hinge on the availability of seasonal ingredients. In the meantime, Diane hopes to further integrate her flavors into Durham’s food scene by coordinating mead dinner nights at local restaurants.
“We have so much talent in this area and so many restaurants here want to express the local products so mead that’s made in this manner works really well,” she says.
Mead’s strong flavor profiles pairs well with a variety of meats, cheeses and grains. Given the opportunity to sample some myself, I was struck by its authentic, rich fruitiness. Diane said it best in her assertion that, “eating strawberries is great – drinking them is even better.”
Curious about trying some local mead for yourself? Stop by at one of Honeygirl’s weekly tasting sessions held on Saturdays and stay tuned to see the product on the shelves of Durham’s co-op.