For many people, honey is a beloved ingredient. The sublimely golden liquid sweetens up teas. It’s a gooey staple in desserts like baklava. And, as the headlining ingredient in mead, honey morphs into a deliciously drinkable beverage through the brewing process.
A pair of brothers from Corvallis can take credit for introducing a variety of craft meads to the area.
Phil and Nick Lorenz, the co-founders of Nectar Creek, specialize in producing session and barrel-aged meads. They started the business back in 2012, with a strong focus on using only locally sourced ingredients and top-quality honey varieties from suppliers throughout the Willamette Valley to create refreshing, original recipes.
“The biggest and most important part of making mead that we really take pride in is using raw, unfiltered honey,” said Phil.
The older Lorenz brother started working as a beekeeper for Queen Bee Honey Company, also in Corvallis, when he was taking a year off between high school and college. From there, Phil said he fell in love with beekeeping, the magic of bees, and the world of honey. While the brothers don’t currently manage their own hives, Phil said they’d like to return to beekeeping, in addition to making meads, sometime in the future.
Not sure what mead is? Phil explained that it all starts out by mixing honey and water. The process of making mead isn’t necessarily complicated, but he pointed out it is indeed a process that is technical and specific.
“The fermentation process is delicate. We have to add nutrients throughout the brewing process and really watch the pH because yeast is sensitive,” he said. “Once the mead is done fermenting, we filter it and force-carbonate it. Then it’s bottled and packaged.”
While first-time mead drinkers might expect the libation to be heavy and very sweet, Nectar Creek’s line of products are surprisingly light, well-balanced, and effervescent.
Phil has been enjoying Cluster, which is one of Nectar Creek’s newest meads, made using a mixture of real cranberries and strawberries. “I like all our meads,” said Phil, “but typically my fallback mead is Waggle. It’s the pure goodness of honey.” Waggle is made with wildflowers, and captures what Nectar Creek refers to as “the essence of the Willamette Valley.”
To take in a true taste of the Willamette Valley and all its honey varieties, fruits, and wildflowers, visit the Nectar Creek tasting room, located at 33848 SE Eastgate Circle in Corvallis. The tasting room is open Thursday through Saturday from noon to 6 p.m.
By Abbie Tumbleson