SWEET SPOT - MOONLIGHT MEADERY SERVES UP CIDERS WITH A MEAD INSPIRED TWISTAug 31, 2022 02:55PM ● By TAY GREENLEAF
Michael Fairbrother is no stranger to a good brew. Owner and founder of Moonlight Meadery and Hidden Moon Brewery, he has eclipsed ( pun intended) the brewery scene with not only beers but award winning meads and ciders. Now with their second location, Over the Moon Farmstead, in Pittsfield, Michael and his team have an abundance of local ingredients to make cider season a success year after year all while adding their signature ingredient: honey.
While some might think that all ciders are made equal, Moonlight Meadery has made each recipe a little different. Little Apples, the company’s most traditional cider and a fan-favorite among drinkers, is made by combining fresh pressed cider from Gala, Cortland, Granny Smith, and Macintosh from local orchards before letting it ferment and age in Rye Whiskey Casks. For Thirteen 5, their pre-prohibition style flagship cider, a touch of sugar and honey is added before fermenting for no less than 6 months. The result is a rich and sweet cider that has a kick. “It’s 13.5% ABV,” says Michael, “So technically by government standards, it’s considered a wine.”
Taking a page from their mead-making roots, many of the ciders are made with a touch of honey to add a little depth to the drinks flavor. With a custom of making several fruit varieties of cider each season, Moonlight Meadery currently has on tap Currant Obsession, an apple and black currant cider that includes bits of honey during the fermentation. “This variation is so close to the mead process, it technically is one,” says Michael, “The tartness from the currants make it super crisp and refreshing.” By adding the honey during the fermentation stage, the white wine yeast eats up all the sugars and creates a smooth alcohol without any bite. When the aging is finally finished and the yeast is removed, the result is a cider with brilliant clarity and high ABV.
This touch of honey has become a not- so-secret ingredient with amazing results. Having won the best in show for the mead/cider division at The San Diego International Beer competition two years in a row as well as a top 20 spot from The National Honey Board for most influential honey beverage in the world, Moonlight Meadery has certainly hit the sweet spot. The honey is also True Source Certified or Certified Organic which guarantees they are using real honey that is ethically sourced to prevent damage to bees’ eco-systems.
While some varieties of their ciders
can be found at independent retailers
and grocery chains, both locations in
Londonderry and Pittsfield have cans
available, and Over the Moon Brewery
in Pittsfield has a 16 keg taproom so you can try each variety while enjoying nibbles like Amish cheeses and listen to a variety of live music. The ciders of Moonlight Meadery are just a small sample of the amazing products that the company creates. Even when apple season is over, there is always something more to quench your thirst.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF MOONLIGHT MEADERY
OVER THE MOON BREWERY