As local mead fans are fond of joking, mead expert Ken Schramm wrote the book on mead. Literally. Ten years ago, his book The Compleat Meadmaker was timed perfectly to school a new generation of people attuned to the growing craft beverage movement. A home brewer since the 1980s, Schramm finally got into the production game last year, opening Schramm's Mead on West Nine Mile Road in Ferndale. Some of his meads, such as his ginger, his blackberry, and raspberry, get very high marks from aficionados. Then there's his cherry mead, "The Statement," which earns its own name, and his "Heart of Darkness" — which retails for $100 for a 375-milliliter bottle — is sold-out until February 2015. The meadery's newest product is called Black Agnes. It came out on Aug. 2 — National Mead Day — and it's already turning heads. Schramm's sold 60 cases in the first week of its release, and at press time had earned a solid 99 rating at ratebeer.com. It pours out a full, deep, dark red. The nose brings back childhood memories of Welch's purple grape juice, and it doesn't lie: A taste is packed with ripe, jammy, berry flavors with warm, spicy notes, a rich, full, honeyed sweetness, and a feisty alcoholic kick that added a bit of heat as well. It's understandable why people would buy this by the case: You'll want one for yourself to try, another for when company that warrants it arrives, and at least a few to warm you up over the winter.
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