GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Grand Rapids’ first meadery recently opened, bringing one of the oldest alcoholic drinks to West Michigan.
Arktos Meadery opened in September. Owner Maciej Halaczkiewicz is a former U.S. Navy nuclear submarine technician turned mead maker, and he has brewed his curiosity into a career.
“Mead is honey wine,” said Halaczkiewicz. “It’s an ancient beverage, probably the first alcohol ever made, really basic: just honey, water, and yeast.” Arktos, which means “bear” in Greek, said it's only fitting: bears love honey, and Greecehas the oldest recorded history of mead making in the world.
“I’m really excited,” said Halaczkiewicz. “I’m glad that people are going to be able to enjoy something that I really love doing.”
Inside Arktos Meadery, Halaczkiewicz ferments his signature mead, called Queen Bee, a traditional mead made in the Polish style that is 15.5 percent alcohol.
“I wanted to a little whiskey bite to it, and that's why I started putting it in the oak barrels,” said Halaczkiewicz. “It has a really nice sweetness to it, but it’s just easy to drink.”
Arktos’ meads range from 12 to 18 percent alcohol, and the mead ferments upwards of six months before being bottled. Halaczkiewicz told FOX 17 that his meads’ shelf lives are “incredible,” aging up to around 50 years. They can even remain good for about six weeks after being opened.
Meads are a trend that’s growing around the country, Halaczkiewicz said. “Over the last two years, mead has just been blowing up. It’s like the new microbrew or cider mills making hard cider. It’s really getting popular.”
Halaczkiewicz sells his meads to about 15 distributors in Grand Rapids, Traverse City, Detroit, and soon in Kalamazoo. In the next couple of years, he plans to open a mead hall, so the public can come in for tastings.
Arktos’ Fairy Godmother Pumpkin Mead, won best in show in the Michigan Mead Cup, will be released in a few weeks. Then, in a few months, Arktos will release his Enchanted Horse honey apple crisp cyser, which took the silver medal at the Mazer Cup in Colorado.
Arktos meads cost around $30 to $40, due to the price of honey.