Ancient Fire Mead & Cider – Award Winning World Class Meads & Ciders in New Hampshire

Author: jtphelps

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Mead: The Libations, Legends and Lore of History’s Oldest Drink

When Fred Minnick’s new book on mead, Mead: The Libations, Legends and Lore of History’s Oldest Drink, was released back in June we excitedly shared the release both because it is a very interesting book, but also because we had helped with a number of aspects of it. It was a fun project, and something we are proud to have been involved in.

We’ve been back talking with Minnick recently, and specifically for an article that was published on Forbes.com last week. Check out Mead: The Return Of The Sweet, Ancient Flavor to learn more about the resurgence of mead.

Jason will be posting again next week with interview material that hit the cutting room floor as well as some new things the interview inspired us to get moving in both our taproom and several local restaurants. Stay tuned for some exciting news!

Back to the new mead book.

We don’t claim to be mead historians, and we often tell people how we literally stumbled into making mead and that it is now very much a 21st pursuit of ours. In Mead, Minnick takes on the task of discovering the mead lore that exists everywhere in our history. Every region of the world, and every civilization has at least dabbled, and some even turned it into “a thing.”

After a spin through these different regional histories Minnick brings together the themes of honey and mead he found in each area and shares cocktails inspired by both the stories and meads. This latter part (cocktails) is one of the great frontiers in mead, and something we will be talking a lot more about soon.

What have others said about Mead: The Libations, Legends and Lore of History’s Oldest Drink?

Learn to Brew ‘History’s Oldest Drink’ – NY Times

Books: Fred Minnick Breaks Into Mead  – Alcohol Professor

Mead: The Libations, Legends, and Lore of History’s Oldest Drink by Fred Minnick – Bourbon Guy

Authority and Author Fred Minnick – Drinkhacker

Sipp’n Corn Book Review—Mead: The Libations, Legends, and Lore of History’s Oldest Drink by Fred Minnick

We will have copies of the book for sale in our tap room very soon. If you would like to peruse our in-house copy over a flight or a pint, come for a visit!

Margot & Jason

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What’s At The Heart Of A Good Story?

A lot of new guests at Ancient Fire ask about the story. I usually setup it up with a bit of hype, maybe something like “absolutely, and it is a GOOD one!”, so forgive me for making that assumption as a bit of theater, but you do get to decide if it’s true when I’m done.

A bit more than 15 years ago I decided something was wrong and went to the doctor. Cancer. Yup! Cancer. Not really what I expected, but I had the thought that “at least this is going to be interesting” to keep me going. That thought doesn’t always work though. Sometimes it just sucks.

The initial treatment and testing went very well and I was able to happily say then, and since, that I’ve been healthy. I did undergo radiation for a short time, and plenty of scans and bloodwork (the interesting part) in the ensuing months and years. So for this outcome it really is a great story, and I’ve never lost sight of how amazing of an experience I did have. Going to doctor early counted. Life in the bonus round has been great so far.

Strides in 2003

While I was recovering my wife Margot asked me if I had considered doing something else other than work (with my off time) as I got healthy and back to what we could make of our lives. This is one of those questions people write stories about, a question that changed lives, the course of history and led to incredible experiences that otherwise might not have been.

I replied that I would like to learn how to make my own beer. Getting the green light to buy brewing, and winemaking, equipment I set to work and made two beers before the end of 2003. They were good, provided some good times (strong) and gave me motivation to learn how to do it better. What we didn’t know was how profound of a change in direction for our lives this would be.

One paragraph to capture what then happened up until Spring of 2016. Think I can do it?

Brewing, wine-making, cider-making, reading, fundraising, advocacy, meeting many new people, travelling, entering and winning in home-brew competitions, our fundraising team raising 1000’s of dollars, blogging, so much brewing/making, many miles walked around tracks at Relay, home-brew club, lots more medals, more travel to cool places, writing, teaching, speaking, all the cool people along the way, beer judge certification, mead judge certification, more writing, more speaking, more people and finally planning a new business. Whew! Caught up?

Relay For Life 2011

As a team, and we called ourselves Survivors Rule!, our family and friends raised over $120,000 for a number of different events from 2003 to 2013. We were consistently recognized for spirit and both our team and team member prowess for fundraising. It wasn’t only about the money, but it was always important for us to have that locked in too because cancer sucks and it takes a lot of money to do research to fight it; and your taxes don’t contribute much to the cause. Margot and I still raise money and walk in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event, the event we walked at in October 2003 where we realized we had an opportunity to take this story and give back with it. So let’s get to more of that.

As a new business we get a lot of inquiries to help support local organizations with a wide range of causes. Being a producer of alcohol puts a bulls-eye on your business. Who doesn’t like free samples while they check out festivals and events? We would be crass to overlook the impact and importance of all these activities and the programs they support. Most of us would easily recognize a great cause in any of them, and would gladly support them whenever we could. And we encourage people to do just that. Find a cause/event you feel passionate about and put a story behind your efforts when you go out and ask for others to support you. Go make a difference.

With all the inquiries coming in our challenge is that we have taken our own advice, picked several organizations we plan to support, and will never have enough time to respond to every independent inquiry we get. We don’t want to offend, but our team is too small to follow-up on all of them, we just can’t. We sincerely apologize in advance.

We have two programs we will be running this year, and both will provide opportunities for Ancient Fire community members to get involved in fundraising, but also being on the event team if they want. We are going to make an impact, and the in-person experience for both of these programs is going to be so much fun!

The first program is for the American Cancer Society event Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. We will use a series of promotional activities at the meadery to support our team and raise funds. Community members who join the team will also be raising money in their own networks and walking at the event in Manchester on October 21st with Margot and I. This event is held all over New Hampshire on the same day in October every year. It is amazingly powerful to think of all the people marching down streets together all over the state raising awareness and funds to fight cancer!

Jason with Brew Free Or Die (homebrew club) at the Food Bank in 2018

The second program will be to benefit the NH Food Bank, an organization Margot and I added to our charitable work a decade ago. Since then we have donated funds as well as have participated in activities at the Food Bank that further their mission. And once again we are going to help make this experience part of Ancient Fire. This program will kick off in November with a donation of funds we raise being made in December. We will also be pulling together a small group of community members to participate in Fresh Rescue at the Food Bank, an activity that redirects leftover frozen meat to shelters, meal programs and community kitchens. Margot and I have done this event in the past and when you find out how much food you helped pack up and how many meals it will be able to create it is hard not to be emotional about your impact.

We will be launching each of these programs in their own time with a lot more information. There will be multiple ways to support each event that should provide workable, comfortable options for everyone. As a community we are going to stand up, get involved and make a difference. We are also going to have fun while doing it, and that ladies and gentleman was the point to Ancient Fire in the first place.

So is it good story? You decide. But, we are sure the next chapter is going to be even better!

Cheers!

Jason

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Of Fruits And Local Labors

As we’ve quickly progressed into the summer season here in New Hampshire one of frequent questions in the tap room has been “where are we getting local produce we are using?” The short answer is lots of places, many of whom we’ve sourced from during our homebrew projects before we opened Ancient Fire. We have local favorites as well as new-to-us farms and orchards from around New Hampshire that we are expecting to get great produce from.

One of our favorite farms to work with is Sunnycrest Farms in Londonderry. Only short drive from home, we’ve visited the farm stand and the PYO areas at Sunnycrest many times! Over the years we have picked strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and grapes. When apple season comes, we’ve coordinated with a group from our local homebrew club to buy cider in bulk from Sunnycrest. We’ve also brought home peaches, apples, cherries, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, squash, honey, maple syrup and of course, cider donuts!

The recent releases of Wooderson’s Lemonade were made with strawberries from Sunnycrest. Our love for the strawberries from Sunnycrest goes back to 2004 when we first started bringing large amounts of them home to use in fermentation. The local season coincides with the official onset of Summer (June 21), which is also our wedding anniversary. Margot can definitely entertain with stories about picking berries in the early mornings of some of our first anniversaries. We fermented at least one beverage with strawberries every year from 2004 to 2013, and in some years we were able to taste a vertical (consecutive years) of a strawberry wine that we won a lot of medals with!

Earlier this year we sourced fresh dill from Country Dreams Farm, a fellow Derry Homegrown Farm & Artisan Market vendor, and used it in the house-made cheese spread on the food menu. We grow herbs at home as well, but not always dill, which typically gets used to make pickles anyway. Mmmm, fresh pickles. We might need to find some to add to the menu.

But summer isn’t over yet, and some of the best produce has yet to start arriving. So what do we have planned?

Pears – having gotten pears from another great Londonderry destination in the past, Mack’s Apples, we are hopeful we can source them here in 2018.

Wine Grapes – we are working on sources and should have some exciting announcements soon!

Cider – we will be sourcing from several farms including Apple Hill Farm, Gould Hill Orchards and Sunnycrest.

Peaches – we will be sharing peach meads soon, and some will have been made with 2017 peaches from Lull Farm.

Chili Peppers – most of our fans already know we love using chili peppers, and fresh, local, and even homegrown ones are fantastic to use!

Plums – it has been a couple years since we used plums in a wine, but that wine went from a sleeper to all gone once all the medals were counted! We like to use golden plums in particular, and sometimes along with delicious white wine grapes. The plums we made the decorated wine with came from Hackleboro Orchards.  We’ve also gotten golden plums from Elwood Orchards in the past, also right in town for us.

Pumpkin – we’ve already got some pumpkin squirreled away in the freezer, and we have a riff on a cider we made a couple years back in mind for this.

Maple Syrup – we have 2018 syrup from Four Saps Sugar Shack on hand already. We’ve also sourced syrup from Ben’s Sugar Shack in the past as well.

We also expect to work on some herbed mead recipes as we head into the cooler months, and some of these will feature herbs and hops we grew at home.

If that isn’t an exciting list of ingredients to work with we surely don’t know what one would look like!

Keep your eyes on our Facebook page for all of our product announcements so you can catch some of this local produce on tap at Ancient Fire.

Cheers!

Margot & Jason

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We Are Open!

As of Thursday March 15th we are open!

The Tap Room hours will be:

  • Thursday & Friday 4-7 pm
  • Saturdays 11 am – 7 pm

Our tap list will fluctuate, and the best way to keep an eye on what is on tap will be our Facebook page. We will be launching with 7 taps for flights and pints, and 3 taps for growlers to go.

The food menu will be updated regularly and will also be posted on our Facebook page. We have a number of meal options as well as plenty of snacks to enjoy with a glass of #deliciousAF.

We haven’t bottled any product yet, but that is coming soon. We also have shirts, glasses, coasters and stickers for purchase. And hats are on the way.

See you at Ancient Fire!

Margot & Jason

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Give The Gift Of Ancient Fire For The Holidays!

THIS PROMOTION HAS ENDED. THANK YOU!

Looking for a gift for that difficult-to-buy-for craft beverage lover in your life? Well, we’ve got you covered with Ancient Fire gift cards.

From now until December 24th Ancient Fire is offering a 20% discount on the face value of gift cards!

Visit our 2017 Holiday Gift Card Promotion page for complete details and purchasing links.

Cheers!