Mead’s been given a whole new meaning at this Manchester taproom, where honey wine is transformed into a carbonated cider-like sip that guests can’t get enough of.
Ancient Fire Mead & Cider was born from a married couple’s new outlook on life. When Jason Phelps was given a clean bill of health after a battle with cancer in the early 2000s, his wife, Margot, looked at him and asked how he might want to spend his time in life differently than just working all of the time. The answer? Learning how to brew beer at home. The spark was lit, and in the years to follow, beers turned to ciders, and ciders turned to mead. After exploring much of the country’s food and drink scene, the duo knew they had truly created something special, launching Ancient Fire Mead & Cider in 2016. The many awards and accolades to follow proved just how tasty their mead (honey wine) really was. For this month’s NH Made Member Spotlight, we highlight Ancient Fire Mead & Cider and hear from Jason Phelps on how an interest in beer turned into the need for mead in a matter of years.
“I’d always been interested in beer, so my wife and I took it up as a hobby. We joined some home brewing clubs and associations and started brewing everything we could get our hands on. Originally it was just ingredients from the grocery store that we would turn into beer, wine, and cider.
The mead started by accident. I wanted to experiment with honey. When I let some of my friends at the homebrewers club try it, they all thought it was a really good mead. I had no idea what they were talking about, I didn’t know mead – or honey wine – was a thing. Nor did I ever expect that mead would be our thing. We’ve earned a lot of accolades from our mead and cider, but our biggest win was unveiling our taproom in 2018, right off South Willow Street in Manchester – making us part of the last leg of the New Hampshire Wine Trail. A taproom allows us to offer tours and flights to brew aficionados like us, who seem to enjoy what we call our “crushable” draft meads. Traditional meads are wine, so small pours of around 11-16 percent alcohol. We did some experimenting, though, and were able to create six meads varieties with only seven percent ABV (alcohol by volume), so they drink more like a cider. We love teaching guests the history behind mead and cider, bringing them through our process, and conversing with new friends at the bar as they sit back and enjoy our brews and bites.”