An Interview with Award-Winning Meadmaker Kyle Ducharme

An Interview with Award-Winning Meadmaker Kyle Ducharme

Sam Trathen
5 minute read

Keen-eyed Meadiacs may have noticed the name of the January 2024 Bottle of the Month bears a striking resemblance to a certain Certified Meadiac, Kyle Ducharme.

(This guy.)

There's a reason for that: it's Kyle's award-winning recipe!

For those who don't know him, Kyle Ducharme is always hanging out in our Facebook group, Certified Meadiacs, waiting to offer helpful and friendly advice to anyone asking for it. Why? Because Kyle is a master homebrewer who has won countless awards for his unique and delicious brews. And he is also a beloved friend of the Meadery.

And we do mean his meads are unique. Kyle is full of all kinds of fun ideas and loves to share them with the group. A few recent favorites of ours:

  • No-water meads (only berries, honey, and yeast)
  • A Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal milk lactomel
  • A capsicumel with Lapsang souchong, chipotle, and pasilla peppers  
  • Beet meads
  • A toasted cashew mead
  • ...and that's just a few!


We were so delighted to include Kyle in our Bottle of the Month adventure and so honored to feature his recipe for the January 2024 Bottle of the Month. We sat down with him recently and asked him about his history with homebrewing, his process, his many awards, and more.

Read our interview below - and don't forget to check out our Bottle of the Month subscription. Depending on when you are reading this, it will likely be too late to get Absolutely Ducharmed. But we have all sorts of surprises lined up for Bottle of the Month subscribers in 2024:

Bottle of the Month Subscription - Exclusive Meads for Members - Shipping Included

Bottle of the Month Subscription - Exclusive Meads for Members - Shipping Included

$45.00

Each month, our creative meadmakers will brew a one-time-only small batch mead using fresh seasonal, local ingredients. Join here to receive discounted shipments of these special brews monthly! If all bottle club slots are currently full, please sign up below to… read more

(Kyle hanging out at the Vermont Renaissance Faire last year with Marketing Manager Jess, and Meadiacs Em and Birgit!)

1. Hi Kyle! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
 
I’m a scientist with work experience in the food and beverage industries. I use some of that experience in my mead-making, but I started to make mead in 2019 after looking up what to do with cider-making equipment. My first few batches were awful, but after learning more through Ask the Meadmaker, Doin the Most, Got Mead, and Man Made Mead media sources, I was able to level up and make better mead. I also sought out feedback by entering competitions. I have since won a number of Best of Shows and medals from the meads I make. I am also a mead and beer certified judge through the BJCP

2. Can you tell us a little bit about how you came up with Absolutely Ducharmed?
 
I did some foraging in Franklin, VT with a fellow homebrew club member. We found wild plums and I took it as a challenge to utilize these in a mead using Vermont light wildflower honey with acacia notes. I submitted this mead into the Champlain Valley Fair Homebrew Competition held by my homebrew club, the Green Mountain Mashers, and ended up winning the mead category! 
(Stirring the bochet honey as it carmelizes. We had to stir the honey for hours as it caramelized. Our mash paddle was made out of sawed material, which meant it simply wasn't strong enough to do the job. So we flame-hardened and sanitized a maple branch, now known as The Stick.)
I was given the opportunity to collaborate with Ricky the Meadmaker and I felt like a mead inspired by my submission would be appropriate, especially since we could pick more wild plums for the mead.
We did a light bochet to the honey and added vanilla beans to replicate some of the flavors from the original honey I used in my version. 
 
All Vermont homebrewers should join the Green Mountain Mashers and enter the Champlain Valley Fair competition! 
 

(L-R: Ricky the Meadmaker and Kyle pouring honey into the cooking pot for caramelization; a bucket of honey; a bucket of foraged wild plums; Kyle)

3. Can you tell us a little bit about your brewing process? How do you come up with a recipe? Particularly your experience with foraging for ingredients?

My process focuses on clean fermentation, sanitation, and cleaning practices. Keeping yeast fed and happy is crucial in making sure to highlight the special ingredients used.
I am a member of the American Mead Maker Association and have ordered many honey varietals through that connection. Playing with different honey, fruit, and yeast is so much fun. I typically make big fruited meads with fruit that I picked from farms and fields all over Vermont during the summer and fall. Talking with farmers who are as passionate about their fruit as I am about mead-making adds another layer to the hobby. I also appreciate the taste of the place.
(Interested in foraging for mead ingredients like Kyle? Check out this fantastic book:)

The Wildcrafting Brewer

The Wildcrafting Brewer

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From the Publisher, Chelsea GreenFermentation fans and home brewers can rediscover “primitive” drinks and their unique flavors in The Wildcrafting Brewer. Wild-plant expert and forager Pascal Baudar’s first book, The New Wildcrafted Cuisine, opened up a whole new world of… read more

I challenge myself to make almost every style of mead and compete with those meads. It’s a fun competitive outlet for me.

4. What are you working on next for the mead world?
I am going through the freezer full of fruit I picked over the warmer months and am planning on pairing them with some fun African honey varietals.
I also have some acerglyn trialing in the near future, but my fermenters are always full. I am working on some recipes that will be featured at the Southern Vermont Homebrew Festival

5. Where can people find you? 
The best place to find what I am doing is on Instagram at @greenmtnmead. I am also featured on a podcast with Man Made Mead and the Mead House podcast if you want to hear more of my story.

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