New Year, New Mead: Hop Swarm

New Year, New Mead: Hop Swarm

Sam Trathen
3 minute read

To start off our new year with a bang, we sat down and interviewed Ricky the Meadmaker and CEO Kelly about our very first New Year, New Mead campaign, taking a look at Havoc's own Hop Swarm.

What are some tasting notes for Hop Swarm?

Color - Golden Yellow

Aroma - Wildflowers, Fresh Grass, Honey

Flavor - Flowers, Citrus, Honey

Closest Comparison - Hopped Cider

New Year, New Mead: Hop Swarm

First draft of label art by Erik Benepe, 2014

How did you come up with Hop Swarm

We wanted to release a hopped mead, but based on our experience with dry-hopped ciders, we knew we had to do some experimentation. Most dry-hopped ciders on the market have a great hop aroma, but there’s no hop flavor. We wanted something that had a balance of flavor and aroma without any bitterness. 

We ran several experiments with methods of adding hops, and the winner was to create a hop tea with 180F water, adding hops over time like beer brewers do, but never letting the hops get hot enough to extract the bitterness. We added this hop tea to the mead to give it great hop flavor, and then we dry-hopped the mead by adding hops directly into the mead to give it that nice floral, hoppy aroma.

The original version of Hop Swarm was called Bitter Bee, but we realized that this was misleading since the mead wasn’t bitter at all.

New Year, New Mead: Hop Swarm

Second draft of label art by Erik Benepe, 2014

How did you name Hop Swarm?

When we decided we needed a new name for this hopped mead, we talked it over, asked some of our best customers, and one day it just popped into our CEO, Kelly’s head: Hop Swarm. And the name stuck.

How has Hop Swarm changed over the years?

We have leveled-up our brewing technique for Hop Swarm as the company has grown. We used to make our hop tea in an 11-gallon homebrew kettle and pour it through a filter. Now we brew our hop tea in a 100-gallon insulated tank with a mesh bottom that filters out the hops for us.

We’ve also experimented with different American hop blends before settling on the final blend we’ve been using for the past few years.

New Year, New Mead: Hop Swarm

Original Bitter Bee logo design by Erik Benepe, 2015

Is there anything else you want to tell us about Hop Swarm?

Hop Swarm is a particularly fun mead for the homebrewer to play with since you can brew one base mead and experiment with different hops, additions, and techniques to find the perfect mead for you.

New Year, New Mead: Hop Swarm

March 2015

Finally, I understand that Hop Swarm is Kelly’s favorite mead. Kelly, can you tell us why?

Hop Swarm has been my favorite ever since we first introduced the mead. I love hops, for one thing, but I think part of the reason I love this mead so much is because I got to help so much with the recipe development. It’s basically a mead brewed to my exact taste - what could be better than that?

New Year, New Mead: Hop Swarm

First experimental hopped mead, November 2013

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