This week, we spoke to a few employees who were involved in the creation of Smoke on the Mountain, our first in the new tea series and the next mead in our New Year, New Mead campaign.
First, CEO Kelly offered her tasting notes for the brew: “The lemon, hibiscus, merquen, and tea are all perfectly balanced so that no flavor outshines another, yet each is clearly integral to the overall experience of enjoying this mead.”
You may have seen this video on our YouTube account, where brewers Jon and Jake discuss Smoke on the Mountain, but we'll let them speak for themselves.
Jon also adds, "I am really passionate about how much value tea adds to the full flavor and experience of the beverage. I love the funky creative combinations of flavors Havoc line gets to play with. Having the both in one brew is such a fun place to create from."
How did you come up with such an unsual flavor profile?
Jon: "The flavor profile was from my original tea design which was ginger, cayenne, lemon. Then months later it really just came down to us wanting to have fun brewing something with tea doing experiments with random things in the walk in to get close."
Where did the name come from?
Jon: "So the name was a lot more complicated and really didn't track haha
Basically I wanted to make a play on Sex on the Beach (to hint at the fruity tart nature) and the Vermont version of the cocktail is Sex on the Mountain so then Smoke finally ties in the pepper to the fruity cocktail. I was told that's too complicated and doesn't track though (too many stages removed)
A lot of people thought of the Grateful Dead song Fire on the Mountain when they heard the name so maybe that's a better reference? I think the song is about a dragon with a cigar. I don't really know it but that did sort of guide us to the dragon icon.
We almost made the logo a goat for the Goat Horn Chili Pepper which last minute added goat horns to the dragon"
Next, we spoke to label artist Autumn Dufresne about her process for creating the delightfully handsome dragon which adorns to Smoke on the Mountain label.
(Early sketches of the Smoke on the Mountain label)
Autumn says, "This was both my first time collaborating with [brewer] Jon, and my first time working on a Havoc label, my previous labels have all fallen under the Groennfell side of the umbrella. It was a lot of fun having multiple conversations around how the two different approaches to mead making between the brands could be expanded beyond the technical flavor and brewing elements and extend into identifiable visual elements as well."
"It was also the first time that my collaboration partner already had a strong preexisting image pretty fully visualized in their mind. With previous labels, there were only very loose "vibes" of what we were shooting for, with just one or two strong elements to start with, and then the final label art very much co-evolved along the way.
Autumn continues, "Far from feeling restrictive, this new experience partnering with someone who knew exactly what they wanted was both challenging yet also liberating in a different way. I truly got so much enjoyment from our dialogue as I worked to translate their ideas from verbal to visual form, and adapt my processes as we back and forthed to make what came out on the paper a better match to the goal image. It was a super fun label to work on and I'm excited to apply and evolve what I learned in this adventure toward future projects."
Finally, we decided to let our customers and Certified Meadiacs talk about what they love about this brand new brew:
Meadiac Jeff L. (pic above) says, "I meant to come back & share my thoughts on this yesterday but forgot following a little bit of a gaming session with my buddy. This mead is definitely unique, but very refreshing! There's a lot going on with it! As I was drinking it, I could definitely pick up attributes that made me think slightly sweeter meads I enjoy such as Buckland & Rosebrew, but also has a tart to it that most seemed to remind me of Nordic Farmhouse or a Ricky.
The bite to it from the peppers doesn't hit right away, but kinda slowly builds across the tongue after each drink. It's not an intense burn though, it's actually very mild, but enough to let you know that it's there. This mead is pretty well rounded as far as flavor & pretty unique, I don't thunk I've ever had one quite like it, but definitely good, and it's light and very refreshing! Definitely gonna knock back one of these with some BBQ or something sometime too, as I think it would go really well with that."
Meadiac Halldor T. (pic above) says, "So my Smoke on the Mountain finally arrived and I got to try a gently chilled can tonight. I dig it! I can definitely taste the chili and the heat & smoke do a great job of masking the booze bite but not also muting the maple and residual honey flavors. It’s really unique and kinda out of this world."
Eric C. (pic above) has a good food pairing to suggest: "First taste and initial review of Smoke on the Mountain (merquén chili and hibiscus tea) mead chilled and sediment swirled in. The carbonation is noticeable in the glass but not on the tongue. The forward taste is of dry mead and dark tea, with a subtle note of the chili (but not spicy). Mostly the dark tea sticks around afterward. When paired with colby cheese, some smokiness and a little bit of spice come forward. Oh, also it is not floral in flavor at all."
Meadiac Damian M. also has some advice: "Okay, so I initially tried this cold. It's like a lightly smokey lemon tea. I warmed it up and tried it at room temperature (70F or so) and the hibiscus came out very nicely to blend with the lemon and smoke. At 140, the merquén blend really kicks up with a very light bite and a pleasant herby aftertaste. Overall, I think this (right now) is a great room temperature or warm mead and I'm excited to see how it ages! (And how it mixes with some scotch to make a mead toddy....)"
And finally, Meadiac Marcy K. offers this insightful image, which really speaks for itself: "Erm… I seem to have crushed it. First smoke, then light hibiscus tea with lemon, then the warmth of the chili lingers on the tongue. Imma need another case. 😍"