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Tap List | Black Labs Craft Meadery to Debut at Brew Lab

Carl (left) and Julie Hinchey are the husband-and-wife duo behind Black Labs Craft Meadery, which will debut two kinds of mead at Brew Lab later this month Carl (left) and Julie Hinchey are the husband-and-wife duo behind Black Labs Craft Meadery, which will debut two kinds of mead at Brew Lab later this month. (Jonathan Bender | Flatland)
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2 minute read

The black raspberries came in June to the fields behind his grandparents’ house in Kansas City, Kansas. Carl Hinchey remembers braving the thorns or sweating in long sleeves, all in pursuit of the tart, dark berries.

“We’d pick them and make them into cobblers and jam,” Hinchey said. “They grew wildly and they were just…summer.”

The berries have been a touchstone for Hinchey — a flavor he sought out even as he and his wife Julie lived in Colorado and California. So, when it came time to pick the first variety they’d use to launch Black Labs Craft Meadery, it wasn’t much of a choice.

“Black raspberries have quite a bit of red wine character,” Hinchey said. “You get some of that fresh fruit on top and then round it out with some vanilla bean while it’s aging.”

Mead is fermented honey, typically made with honey, water, and yeast. Much of Black Labs mead starts with Speckman honey, which is harvested on a farm in Shawnee, Kansas.

“The honey is smooth and dark,” he said. “The base is this dark red berry, and it needed something that could stand up to it.

Black Raspberried Treasure and Private Island are the first two meads Black Labs will have available at a launch party at Brew Lab (7925 Marty St., Overland Park, Kansas) from 4 to 10 p.m. on Wednesday, June 27. Mead will be available from a keg or by the bottle.

“Private Island is a piña colada without the rum,” Hinchey said. “It’s got a lot of crispness and is really refreshing on a hot day.”

The Hincheys recommend pairing cheese pizza with the black raspberry — the slightly sweet red sauce and cheese hold up well to the deep-bodied drink — and sitting on the porch for the Island Treasure. They suggest serving the black raspberry slightly below room temperature and the pineapple mead chilled.

“I can’t wait until we have mead on the menu at restaurants,” Julie Hinchey said. “I think there’s a mead wave coming, and I’m excited to be part of it.”

Black Labs Craft Meadery has a production facility in Olathe, Kansas. For now, they’re not looking at a taproom, instead focusing on online sales and pop-up events. The idea is to always have two to three flavors available, which is complicated because a new batch of mead takes a minimum of three months and can be more like seven months from idea to bottle. But both of them work as software engineers.

“We’re a data-driven meadery,” Julie said. “We can blend the art and science by measuring variants.”

Most of the meads they produce, which at this point is several hundred bottles per month, are between 12- and 15-percent alcohol by volume. The meads will be sold in 500ml bottles, just big enough for a couple to each have a glass-and-a-half.

Carl has been making mead for eight years, but it was only a year ago that he and Julie considered turning a shared passion into a business.

“We enjoy sharing it,” Carl said. “Mead is a social drink.”

The meadery is named for the couple’s two dogs, Zak and Petey. It’s also a nod to black raspberries and the spirit of experimentation and analysis that defines most labs. Carl has been playing around with chai mead made with a buckwheat honey (it’s darker and evokes molasses) base.

“What I love about mead is how versatile it can be,” Carl said. “It’s something beer drinkers or wine drinkers can enjoy.”

Tap Notes

Need a canned beer by the pool? Mother’s Brewing’s Strawberry-Ginger Gose is out now, as is Tallgrass Brewing’s Blueberry-Lemon, a sour session ale. Boulevard’s collaboration with Tech N9ne — Bou Lou, a wheat with pineapple and coconut — dropped in four-packs Monday.

Strange Days Brewing Co. (316 Oak St.) extended hours for the World Cup, opening at 7 a.m. through Sunday. Check out Georgia on My Mind – a gose with peaches, sea salt and coriander — brewed in honor of Germany’s participation in the tournament.

McCoy’s Public House (4057 Pennsylvania Ave.) has a host of new brews, like Amber Cerveza, “a Mexican-style Munich lager, [that] has malty notes of toast and caramel and a light body and high drinkability from the large addition of corn,” head brewer Morgan Fetters wrote in an e-mail. Amber Cerveza is joined by grapefruit gose (4% ABV), a Belgian IPA (8.1% ABV) and Blackberry Tart #3 (5.7% ABV, a limited release).

This Week

Tuesday, June 19

Nick & Jake’s on Main (5031 Main St.) hosts the Stockyard Brewing Co. for a five-course dinner ($55) with six beers from 6 to 10 p.m. Hefeweizen will be served with an avocado gazpacho and Brunch Stout is paired with braised lamb.

Green Room Burgers & Beer (4010 Pennsylvania Ave., Suite D) is part of Westport’s Cocktails for Cause, which runs through Sunday, June 24. They’re selling Horsefeathers (made with Jim Beam, ginger beer, bitters and a lemon) served in copper mugs and a dollar for each cocktail sold will be donated to Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City.

Wednesday, June 20

Learn how to brew with grain at Brew Lab (7925 Marty St., Overland Park, Kansas) during a 5:30 p.m. session. The class ($50), which lasts roughly 3 to 4 hours, also includes a second session of bottling 15 days later (in this case, Thursday, July 5).

Stone Canyon Pizza (8630 NW Prairie View Road) in Zona Rosa hosts a “take the pint night” from 6 to 8 p.m. with Martin City Brewing Co. Brewery folks will be pouring Righteous Candor IPA, Hard Way IPA, Old Glory Pilsener and Belgian Blond. Buy the beer, keep the glass.

Cinder Block Brewery (110 E. 18th Ave., North Kansas City, Missouri) releases Hop Maven 11 (6.5% ABV), a Northeast IPA made with orange puree, guava and grapefruit. Neighbor Chicken & Pickle hosts a release party from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, June 21.

Thursday, June 21

Pig & Finch (11570 Ash St., Leawood, Kansas) hosts Pints with Pops — a celebration of dads (fathers are optional for attendance)  — through Saturday, June 23. The draw is four Founders’ pairings, including KBS paired with an espresso-rubbed pork shoulder and shrimp and grits with Dankwood.

Friday, June 22

Crane Brewing hosts the second annual Longest Day at The Taproom (6515 Railroad St., Raytown, Missouri), a benefit for the Alzheimer’s Association from 2 to 10 p.m. The Ash & Bleu food truck will be onsite, as well.

The fundraiser is personal for Chris Meyers, a vice-president and founder of Crane. Meyers’ grandfather, Arvin James “Corky” Weston, a longtime ironworker in Kansas City, passed away in 2009 after a decade of living with Alzheimer’s.

“Crane Brewing wants to do what we can to both raise money for this cause, but also simply bring as much awareness as possible,” Meyers said.

Saturday, June 23

The CrossroadsKC Beer Fest kicks off at 3 p.m. at CrossroadsKC (417 E. 18th St.). The festival will have more than 70 beers from two dozen breweries. The M80s perform at 5 p.m. General admission tickets ($28) and VIP tickets ($66.50) are still available.

The games are in full swing for the World Cup and iTap Crossroads (403 E. 18th St.) understands that you need a place to drown your sorrows or revel in your team’s success. It opens early (9:30 a.m.) today and will give you the boot, literally — a Hofbrau boot-shaped glass that comes with the purchase of a Hofbrau beer.

—Follow @FlatlandKC on Twitter and Facebook for all your beer news.


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