Tag Archive | "Brad Dahlofer"


MankerBeer Meets: Pre-CBC 2014 – Brad Dahlofer/B.Nektar

B_NektarCopenhagen Beer Celebration is closing in faster and faster and is finally less than two weeks away. In 7 days I will be in Belgium, drinking beer with Russian River, Cantillon and Allagash but first thing Friday morning we depart from Brussels heading for Copenhagen. These last couple of days are full of beery activities and we will give you the latest info on where and when to be in Copenhagen next week as there will be a lot of pre-events happening. We won’t leave you without at least one more pre-CBC interview and with names like Henok Fentie (Omnipollo) and Jonathan Buford (Arizona Wilderness) we have set the bar high, but in tribue to our great friend Kristopher at Kornmalt & Humlekottar and his popular reviews and articles on mead we wanted to highlight one of the breweries we both are exited to see – B.Nektar. As the name suggest this is not your typical beer brewing company but an all mead brewery widely popular and luckily for us now somewhat more common on the shelves. They have 5 meads on RateBeer’s top-25 best mead list,well, 6 if you consider the famous Ken Schramm Signature Series – The Heart of Darkness now being produced under Ken’s own brand, of which Cherry Chipotle ranks as number 5. They will undoubtely really offer something extra to CBC and as Brad hints below they might offer something extra if they are invited back next year, which I really hope that they will be.


MankerBeer (MB): You went from a homebrewer to a meadmaker, for those who yet haven’t been over to the states or who are into trading and haven’t heard about B.Nektar, what is your story?
Brad Dahlofer (BD): I started homebrewing beer in 1998 after my taste for better beer started taking a sizable chunk out of my wallet. I started building my own equipment and getting into brewing as many styles of beer as I could. It was a great way to experiment with different flavors and tastes. My mom is an amazing cook. At a very young age, she taught me to use my imagination when cooking. She taught me things like balancing sweet, sour, salty, spices, etc. Anyway, while learning to brew beer, I had read about mead in the back of a homebrewing book. It took me many years to getting around to making some. When I did, it wasn’t very good. It irritated me that I could make good beer, but this mead thing was evading me. So from my early failures, my obsession started. I’m kind of obsessive about things until I get them right. Around that time, my wife and I were planning our wedding. We decided to do a toast with mead instead of Champagne. So I had to come up with a good recipe, and quick. The wedding mead turned out okay, but the obsession persisted. About a year after the wedding, I was getting pretty good and it, and then my wife got laid-off from her job. We’re from the Detroit area. I’m guessing you’ve heard that the economy isn’t that great in Detroit. 🙂 Well, she’s drinking some of the mead I just bottled and said, “You’re getting pretty good at this. Screw finding another job, let’s sell this!” So, that’s how it all started. We were just going to start a nights-and-weekend small business. But then before we were about to open, (and just after the birth of our first son), I was laid-off from my job. We talked, and decided that going all-in was what we really wanted. So we did it, and we’ve never looked back.


MB: You make mead with everything from pineapple, tea, cocoa nibs and cardamom to ginger – compared to brewing beer, are you guys just crazy or aren’t there any limitations to what to brew mead with?
BD: There really are no limits. The only limits in our way are the US Government and their heavy handed definition of alcohol styles and taxes. For instance, we were licensed as a winery, so until very recently (we just got our brewing license), we weren’t allowed to use any grains in our meads. So that means no Braggots.

As far as mead ingredients; if it’s edible, it’s fair game in my opinion. I also think beers and ciders can be this way, too. I look at beer, mead, cider, and I just think, FOOD. It’s all about flavors, and how they work together. But it also has to be drinkable. Most meads I’ve had from other people are just too cloyingly sweet for my tastes. I really prefer something that I can drink a lot of. The honest truth is, we really don’t know what we’re doing. We just get inspiration from many different places and say, “Hey! I wonder if this combination would work.” And then we give it a try. Experimentation is a major part of our culture here at B. Nektar.


MB: Compared to other well-known meaderies you have a wide distribution with about 18 states. How much will you be able to grow without taking a toll on quality or limiting production on the most sought after meads?
BD: Quality is always at the top of the list of challenges we facing when scaling our products for distribution. Just about everything starts out as a small batch that we release only at the meadery. I have a bit of background in process engineering, so we’re very, VERY methodical about how we approach scaling up recipes and production volumes. Nothing leaves the meadery without passing our very rigid standards. We have been very successful at this and it shows in the quality of our products. I can honestly say that we have the procedures and methods in place to scale our meads to a global scale, and very quickly. But financing is a limiting factor. There will always be small, limited size batches we do. Not that we can’t scale them, but usually because they require a huge up-front investment. At one point, all of the meads in our line-up were limited.


MB: Going back to the varierty of possible flavors for a mead, what are the most common missconceptions of mead and meadmaking?
BD: The biggest one I get is that meads are undrinkably sweet. It’s true that most are going to be on the sweet side. I’ve only had a small handful of dry meads that I thought were any good. But they don’t have to be cloying. And the sweetness should be balanced with either acid or bitterness from other ingredients. It’s the same reason that beers use hops or other spices to balance the malty sweetness.

Also, most people think that making mead is easy. I hear it often. “You just mix honey and water. Then add yeast.” While this is technically true, it won’t make good mead. Making good mead is much harder. And making great mead is even more difficult, but that’s what we try to achieve here at B. Nektar.


MB: What has been the craziest mead yet and do you have any idea for a mead that you really, really would like to try to create?

I think the craziest thing we’ve done to-date, was our collaboration with Cigar City in Tampa, FL. Both Wayne and I were in uncharted territory on that one, and we were playing with a LOT of money in ingredients. At that time, it was their most expensive batch to-date. We were using a rediculous amount of honey in the recipe, and all we had were some theories about how it work ferment and where the body and flavors would be after fermentation. We worked on that recipe for over a year. I still can’t believe they actually let us brew it. But Wayne and the other people at Cigar City are absolutely brilliant, so in the end it all worked out. We’re working on another project with them. I really want to talk about it, but we’re too early in the planning stages. It will be epic!


MB: How is the American/International mead scene? Is there a strong mead community or any epicenter for mead?
BD: I think the scene is growing. For us, we’re trying to grow it from within the craft beer market. I think that’s where most of the growth is coming from. That, and the foodie culture that’s growing. Which is great from my perspective, because that’s what we’re into. I know a lot of other people find mead through other channels. Some through fantasy shows or books. But for me, mead is in the food category like any other beverage. It just has a long, and bad reputation. As people rediscover good quality food, and explore what’s out there, they will eventually find mead.


MB: Are there any mead specific trends right now, except for the hilarious names of your meads?
BD: I think there is a trend in lower alcohol mead that’s about to explode. Drinkable is key. Getting on draft in local bars is critical. I see that as the future. At least, I’m betting the company on it. I think the branding/labels is just something we like to do. My wife and I work on those together. Someone will come up with a clever name or concept and we just go with it. Sub-pop/anti-pop culture has always been something I’ve been attracted to. We embrace that because we embody that culture. We’re the rejects. The freaks, geeks, and nerds of the industry.

MB: Personally, for you, which is the best mead you have tried, and why?
BD: That changes with the seasons. Really everything we’re releasing becomes my favorite for a time, until it’s not. Maybe that’s why we make so many different things. We’re just on this never ending mission to explore flavors. But if I had to name a few, I’m drinking an awful lot of Kill all the Golfers lately. It’s our new half-and-half style (also known as an Arnold Palmer). It is a blend of honey, black tea, and lemon juice. It’s sweet and sour with a good amount of tannin from the tea. It’s going to be awesome to drink this throughout the summertime. If only we had a canning machine.


MB: What meads will be poured at CBC?
BD: We’re bringing the draft mead line-up. Most people have never had anything like them, so I wanted to start out (on our first time attending the festival) focusing on regular line-up. The one limited edition we will have is the Dwarf Invasion. It’s inspired by a sweet and tart cherry lambic. It’s made with an earthy wildflower honey, really tart Balaton cherries, and dry hopped with Styrian Golding hops.

If we’re invited back next year, our products will have already been in the market for a while, and then we can start bringing the uber-crazy stuff. But really this happened so fast (us getting invited, and beginning distribution in Denmark) that we didn’t have time to plan anything just for the event.

Session 1 (Zombie Killer and Necromangocon)

Session 2 (Black Fang and Kill all the Golfers)

Session 3 (Dwarf Invasion and Zombie Killer)

Session 4 (Zombie Killer and Kill all the Golfers)


MB: Finally then, what are you looking forward to the most with CBC?
BD: I’ve never been overseas. So I’m mostly looking forward to experience the Copenhagen culture, people, food and architecture. I’m also really excited to be sharing and drinking beers (meads) and making friends with some of the most talented brewers in the industry.


We thank Brad for taking some sugary sweat time to give you some more of B.Nektar! we are really looking forward to see them at CBC and I am certain that they will be among the most exiting breweries on site!

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