By Léo Azambuja
There is only one place in the state of Hawai‘i where both buzzed and busy bees hang out. And it’s right here on Kaua‘i, more specifically at Nani Moon Meadery in Kapa‘a.
“We make mead, which is honey wine. It’s an alcoholic beverage made from honey; so instead of hops and grains to make beer and grapes to make wine, honey is the primary ingredient in mead,” said “Queen Bee” Stephanie Krieger, owner of Nani Moon Meadery.
This hidden gem of a meadery still operates in the same spot where it started nine years ago, tucked away next door to Kaua‘i Pasta Restaurant. The mead is made right there by the busy bees — actually, mazers, the right term for mead makers. But the place is also a charming little tasting room — enough to get some bees buzzed.
You can purchase your bottle of mead at the meadery. Their mead is also available at large supermarkets such as Safeway or Big Save, or in several independent retailers around the island. But truth be told, it’s a lot more fun to step into Nani Moon’s tasting room, try their whole selection and then pick your favorite bottle.
“We have six varieties (of mead) on the main menu. They range in flavor and profile,” said Stephanie, adding people usually assume mead is sweet because it’s made with honey, but just like wine, mead can be made sweet or dry. There’s a whole range of different styles of meads. And mead can be carbonated or still.
At Nani Moon, they have tropical fruit meads, spiced meads, and dry or semi-sweet, all depending on what is available from local producers. This is really what dictates the whole philosophy supporting Nani Moon since its beginnings.
“We specialize in mead here because all our ingredients are made locally. We get our honey from our own hives, and all of our fruits and spices that we use are from our local farmers. Everything that’s in our bottle is from Kaua‘i,” Stephanie said.
When Nani Moon first opened, there were only 65 licensed meaderies in the country, according to Stephanie. Today, mead, the oldest fermented beverage in the world, is the fastest-growing alcoholic beverage in the United States.
Just three months ago, there were 412 meaderies in operation in 45 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, with dozens more in the process of opening, according to a Fox News article. The American Mead Makers Association published in its 2017 report that every three days a new meadery opens in the U.S., and every seven days a new meadery opens in the rest of the world.
Stephanie said the bulk of her consumer base isn’t necessarily the wine drinkers; it’s the people who enjoy the craft beers and the craft ciders who really gravitate to mead.
“That’s interesting because when I opened the business, I was really focused on wine drinkers. Then a few years into it, it was the beer drinkers who really got into it,” said Stephanie, a wine and beer lover herself.
Interestingly, though she knew of mead, she had never tasted it before she made her own. The availability on island of all the ingredients, plus the desire to support local businesses — and friends who were beekeepers — were the driving forces for her to start making mead. This bee-friendly beverage paid off then, and it keeps paying off now.
“We’re still the only meadery in Hawai‘i,” she said.
Nani Moon Meadery is 4-939 D Kuhio Highway in Kapa‘a, next door to Kaua‘i Pasta. The tasting room is open from 12 to 5 p.m. daily. Walk ins are welcome, but it is recommended to book a reservation online.
Call 651-2453 or visit www.nanimoonmead.com for more information.