PRESCOTT, Ariz. (FOX 10) -- There are a lot of breweries out there in the world, but one of the best is in Arizona. At Superstition Meadery in Prescott, they're not even brewing beer or making wine.
They're making mead.
"It's very unique," said Jeff Herbert. "It's the world oldest fermented beverage, but it fell out of fashion in the Middle Ages, after that time frame came to an end, and we're reintroducing the world's oldest fermented beverage."
Jeff and his wife, Jen, started Superstition Meadery in 2012, but making the honey-based drink started with a homebrew kit gift to Jeff, from Jen.
"My first meads I was making, as a homebrewer, actually tasted way better than my first beers, so I thought maybe I'm on to something," said Jeff.
From there, an idea was born, and the Herberts decided to dive into the mead business. Their humble beginnings started with just two employees (namely, themselves), and some shared space at a winery.
"We were learning about the industry, how to make wine, we were doing everything but prune vines," said Jeff. "We made about 300 gallons of product in 2012, and we were the smallest winery in the State of Arizona, and five years later, we made over 29,000 gallons of product. We became the biggest winery in Arizona by production, and we don't even make wine, we make mead."
Nowadays, the Superstition Meadery production facility can crank out thousands of bottles of their unique flavors. It can be a sticky science.
"What we're going to do is take fruit juice, or water and honey, and we're going to mix it all up, and then, we're going to pitch our yeast. We're gonna pump honey out of a drum, using this worm dry flux pump," said Jeff. "This stainless steel tube fits over the shaft, and we can drain 55 gallons of honey into one of these tanks in 20 or 30 minutes. If it's gonna be barrel-aged, we're going to spend at least three to four months in a barrel, sometimes up to two years."
About half of the products Superstition Meadery puts out goes into bottling, and the other half into barreling, with the different woods bringing out different flavors for the so-called "Nectar of the Gods". Drinks like one of their flagship meads, Peanut Butter Jelly Crime, are bottled and sent off to either businesses or consumers.
Before there was a production facility, there was only a dual tasting room and production facility in Downtown Prescott.
"When we first opened, no one knew what it was, and now, we've popularized the drink and the industry, and people come down here all the time and say "We were told we need to go to the meadery, we have to try the mead, we've never had it before, but we're very interested in seeing what it's all about," said Jen.
The buzz turned into a staff of 25, and recognition from around the globe. Ratebeer ranks Superstition Meadery as a Top-40 brewery in the world, out of more than 36,000 listed. Their concoctions, from cinnamon flavors to hoppy brews, have also taken home multiple Mazer Cup gold medals, the highest honor for meads nationally.
"We can be as creative as we want to," said Jen. "We're going for those perfect fermentations, delicate bases, everything starts off with a good base, then we'll introduce different flavors, herbs and spices."
And the honeymoon continues, as Superstition Meadery was named Arizona's best small business for 2019
"I want them to know that they should try it," said Jen. "That's the one thing."
Superstition Meadery is planning an expansion that would put a tasting room in Downtown Phoenix, hopefully by 2020.