Hops & The City is an exploration of beer in Pittsburgh by our resident craft beer enthusiast, Angelica Ross. Angelica is pitting beers against each other and honing her taste skills simultaneously while providing you with her unique opinions on the brews in front of her. It’s like Carrie dishing about men and learning about which guy suits her best…except for Angelica, it’s beer. Follow Angelica on Twitter @syntaxxerrorrr
I was in Carnegie for breakfast one day and it was just my luck to realize that Apis Mead & Winery was across the street. After breakfast, my friend and I headed over and were greeted by a relaxed vibe, cool art, and mead. She was relieved to find out that their mead is made from honey, yeast, and water and more closely resembles wine – but don’t let that stop you if you’re a beer lover; they have hopped varieties and some amazing flavor combinations (chocolate cherry, mango habanero, blueberry chai…I could go on forever.)
Of course, we had to try a flight of mead, though you can purchase by the glass or 750mL bottle. We chose a standard flight which included five meads and their sangria of the month, but you can also make your own flight of five if you’re controlling like that.
Hopped Passionfruit (and Pineapple)
Hopped Passionfruit is a top three favorite. We can smell the wonderful citrusy and floral hops, but can taste more of the passionfruit. There’s a fantastic bitterness that plays off the sweetness of the mead. It’s definitely unique. They also have a Hopped Pineapple that came home with me. It is a little more bitter, but the hops and the sweet fruit work well to balance each other out in this one, too.
Cranberry Clove is a fall flavor for good reason. It’s like drinking a Thanksgiving side dish. Cloves, oranges, honey, and cranberries take the stage. This was on the drier side and would be a welcome addition to a holiday meal or just replace your cranberry sauce with this mead. Who likes cranberry sauce anyway? I’m telling you, drink it instead, people.
Strawberry Kiwi isn’t a favorite of ours, but it’s not bad by any means. This one seems to be the closest to their traditional Dorsata mead. To me, it definitely smelled like berries, though I’d be hard-pressed to tell you it’s strawberry. While this is a little dry, it isn’t unpleasantly so; there’s a balance of flavors, dryness, and bitterness. Without that balance, it would be a little too reminiscent of a flavored lip balm.
Another one that was hard for me to decipher the exact flavors is Raspberry Blackberry. If it wasn’t for the name, I don’t know if I could tell you with certainty what’s in it, though my tasting partner could pick out the berries used. I thought it tasted a little like cherry Jello. I wonder if you can use mead to make Jello shots… If you’re a fan of tart things, this is the mead for you. The berries added some much-needed tartness to an otherwise sweet lineup.
Naturally, we had to try traditional mead after all of these flavor combinations. Their traditional Dorsata is light like a white wine, a little sweeter, and reminds me of wine the most. The flavors in Dorsata come almost entirely from the honey used. It’s definitely floral. Because you pick up so much of the honey flavor, you will probably have to like the flavor of clove honey to like it. I can see this being the base for sangria with a little apple and pomegranate or maybe cranberries, cloves, and star anise.
Caramel apple Sangria
Which brings me to sangria. They have sangria. The one we tried is fantastic and I think I would fight anyone who says otherwise. It’s their caramel apple sangria and tastes, as the name suggests, like a caramel apple. We definitely noticed apple notes and something a little more fall-like, almost raisin-y.
December’s sangria isn’t this caramel apple, but Joe, our fantastic bartender for the day, said that people liked the apple flavors so much, the December variety is similar. Apple Pie Cyser is being released this Saturday, December 12 with food provided by 99 Bottles and live music from JDA Band.
I highly recommend breaking out of your beer-only programing for some mead time at Apis Mead & Winery. The vibe there is very relaxed and perfect if you want to chill out with some food (it’s BYO), board games, and their buzzed-about mead.