Nevada’s First Meadery: Black Rabbit Mead Co. Introduces Honey-Based Libations to the Sierra

Galen Carrico | Friday FunFriday Fun | Industry NewsIndustry News
Black Rabbit Mead Company: Made and enjoyed in the Sierra. Photo Credit: Black Rabbit Mead Co.

Black Rabbit Mead Company is one of many new establishments in Reno, Nevada’s new Brewery District and they just happen to be Nevada’s very first producer of mead. “Mead is the world’s oldest alcohol,” says co-owner Wiliam Truce. “It’s made from honey and traditionally is like a dessert wine. However, we make ours more like a dry cider. Much of what we do is carbonated, under 7% alcohol, and has just a touch of sweetness. We use Sierra Nevada honey to make the alcohol and then infuse it with a variety of fruits, herbs, and spices. It’s naturally gluten-free and purposefully delicious!”

Every unique bottle hits your taste buds with flavor and smoothness that is tough to compare to anything else on the market right now. Ciders and seltzers are becoming increasingly popular as of late but co-owners Jake Conway and Wiliam Truce, have their own take on humanity’s longest-known libation:

“Mead only needs to have 51% of its alcohol made from honey and, therefore, a lot of folks make some dang tasty meads by also fermenting other things with it. However, we specialize in having 100% of our alcohol come from honey. We also only use high-quality, Sierra Nevada honey. We then infuse our meads with a variety of other fruits, herbs, and spices. These range from pineapple and jalapeno to hops to blueberries and lemon. Our goal is to make delicious, refreshing, and very unique meads, and, therefore, there’s a lot of things we’re excited to explore.”

If you have not yet had the pleasure of tasting Black Rabbit’s cider-style meads then you are truly missing out on one of Northern Nevada’s finest exports — made from local Sierra honey and other locally-sourced ingredients. The Black Rabbit Mead Co. taproom is open Wednesday through Sunday (more on hours of operation is discussed below and can be found on their website), with accommodations for everyone to safely enjoy a drink. “We have made adjustments within the taproom to help socially distance groups and limit interactions outside of the group that you came with, while still providing an enjoyable experience for everyone,” Conway said.

New additions include the incredibly smooth “B.L. Bliss,” a Blueberry Lemon concoction that is ideal for warm days in the high desert. There is also the “Branch of the McBrooms,” a tasty blend of Strawberry, Rhubarb, and Oak, and the Hawaiian Ember — a mixture of pineapple and jalapeno. If you are looking for something crisp and flavorful, reach for the “35 to 1,” a refreshing Cucumber Mint-flavored mead. Black Rabbit also has the Rosemary Black-a favorite for the beach and one of their originals, named after the father of one of the co-owners: The Church of Roger. All of these unique drinks come with their own description the pair thinks up on the chalkboard-style menu sitting above the ordering area.

Black Rabbit drinks
Some gifts from the Sierra Nevada and local vendors compose most of Black Rabbit Mead Co’s libations. Credit: Black Rabbit Mead Co.

Black Rabbit Meadery is located just East of downtown Reno at 401 E. 4th Street, conveniently located just North of Greater Nevada Field.  So check them out when games resume for the Aces and 1868 FC. The area of E. Fourth Street where Black Rabbit Mead Co. is located near Record Street Brewing Company and The Alpine: a venue looking forward to bringing back live music. Just East of the Depot Craft Brewery & Distillery, Reno’s up-and-coming Brewery District has risen up as a community organization comprised of several other vendors and brewers in the area including Lead Dog Brewing, which now has a tasting room in Sparks. These businesses have created a competitive, yet supportive competition among brewers and distributors in the Truckee Meadows.

Like many small businesses hit hard by the pandemic and the associated lockdowns, this locally-sourced operation, started by two local Reno residents who met while teaching at a local charter school, has had to get creative in the second year of operation that just so happened to open while coping with one of the world’s worst pandemics in a century. They have gone from celebrating their opening in the Spring of 2019, only to face global and nationwide lockdown orders close during the time when they should have been celebrating their one year anniversary of their grand opening.

However, they masked up like the rest of us and got to work serving bottles and masks that their families helped sew for essential workers, their employees, and others needing face protection. Earlier this summer Jake, Will, and other business owners in the Brewery District were instrumental in getting Washoe County bars and tasting rooms to safely reopen by introducing a health and safety plan to Washoe County’s COVID-19 task force to prove these places can open safely to the public.

“Everyone has stepped up to work together to make a comprehensive and safe plan for re-opening the businesses hurt in our district,” Conway said. “We are excited to expand distribution, varieties, and once again engage with our community within the taproom and beyond. We are always humbled by the support that we receive from those in our community and would like to thank anyone who has bought bottles curbside from us over through the pandemic.”
Jake also says those looking to purchase their mead in stores can soon do so: “Look for us in 22-ounce bottles coming soon to grocery stores, liquor stores, bars, and restaurants.” Will has also told me that they are looking into cans in the future so you can enjoy Black Rabbit on the beach or on a peak after a long ascent in the backcountry: “We’re really excited to be releasing our meads in some beautiful 22 oz bottles. They honor the history, quality, and craft behind what we do. We’re also excited to make it easier to bring our meads into the backcountry and, therefore, cans are definitely an idea we’re exploring.”
The many sleek bottles of the Black Rabbit Mead Company line. Photo Credit: Black Rabbit Mead Co.

The tasting room is complete with a floor-to-ceiling projector playing anything from classic films to ski films and mountain bike races during opening hours and there is lots of room, as well as a new outside seating area to kick back and listen to music or Will and Jake’s musings on all their meads have to offer. Black Rabbit Mead Co. has collaborated with other local brewers and businesses to bring some cocktails or their Rabbit Head collaboration with Pigeon Head Brewing that has a pale ale-ish flavor with a sweet hint of the Sierra Nevada honey-based mead. Black Rabbit is also the starting (and perhaps final?) destination for those pedaling the streets of Reno on the Brew Bike mobile pub.

The tasting room at Black Rabbit Mead Co. is committed to sanitation, safety, and social distancing. Photo Credit: Black Rabbit Mead Co.
In fact, bars in Washoe County that do not primarily serve food had a period of closures and lockdowns this Spring and summer while the nation and the globe reeled from COVID. However, after lots of ups and down and lobbying to re-open tasting rooms in a safe and effective way, Black Rabbit Mead Company and the other businesses composing Reno’s exciting new Brewery District, bring lots of enjoyable options for those looking to safely get out and taste what concoctions the folks over at Black Rabbit can do next with the ingredients from and surrounding the Sierra Nevada.
Jake and Will are collaborating with other establishments in the area to keep bringing new concoctions for their customers.  “We are working with a number of different bars, restaurants, and catering companies to host different events. We are working on everything from pop-up dinners to drink collaborations with some of our favorite bars,” Conway mentioned.
If you have read this far I’ll give you my recommendations: the B.L. Bliss is named after one of Tahoe’s best beaches and will hit you with so much blueberry you’ll feel like you are becoming Violet Beauregard. However, one of their foundational meads is the Three-Headed Rabbit: a hopped mead that is the ideal blend of Sierra honey and hops. Skol!

Related Articles

Got an opinion? Let us know...