Happy Polar Vortex Tuesday, everyone! If you’ve managed to escape the frigid temperatures, consider yourself lucky. If not, your best option is to light a fire somewhere in your house, wrap up in something over-sized and fluffy, and pour yourself a glass of liquid warmth. To that end, you’re definitely at the right place, as The Daily Beard always keeps things toasty, craft beer style. Except, tonight’s beer isn’t actually a beer. It’s a mead from B. Nektar Meadery, known by the completely awesome name of Black Fang and sporting ingredients such as blackberries, cloves, and orange zest. Epicness is abound even before opening the bottle, as the label warns us to “keep the bottle out of sunlight, and that it will not sparkle in the sunlight.” At this point, it could taste horrid and I’d still give it a 10/10 for the Twilight jab, but I am a professional, and as such I must keep such biases out of the judging process. Thankfully, the judging process is drinking it. And so, let the drinking commence – for science!
Poured out, the aromas burst forth from a liquid of dark, inky violet. Notes of honey arrive first before immediately succumbing to a tide of spicy clove and sweet n’ tart blackberries. Despite the strength of clove on its own, within this bouquet, all of the aromas are fairly mellow. Clove definitely stands out the most, but you can definitely find notes of honey, blackberry and even some citrusy orange tossed in for good measure. Despite the vampire vibe that this mead has going for it, the aroma is drawn right out of a Christmas memory, situating it firmly within the winter months, regardless of what the pale, fanged dude on the label says. Visually, it looks like a stout ate a rainbow and only purple survived. Almost black, satiny purple pours slow and thick, with a touch of carbonation that creates a lavender ring of thin foam around the top.
On the tongue, the mellowness of the aroma disappears completely. Huge notes of clove show up first, bringing that uber spice-rack vibe from the instant the first drop hits. After the clove fades, a sweet ripple of honey arrives to wrap your tongue in a sticky-sweet hug. At the same time, tart fruit notes of blackberry and oranges provide another helping of sweetness, as well as a touch of lip-smacking sourness similar to shoving an entire handful of berries into your mouth. The orange zest teams up with the residual clove notes to create that well known mulled-spice flavor of winter. This is actually a great way to describe the overall flavor – mulled blackberry mead. Any trace of alcohol is non-existent but at 6% ABV, you’ll feel a little toastiness begin to creep across your brow near the end of your drinking.
B. Nektar’s Black Fang is just all around tasty. The big clove notes may turn some people away, but they fade fast enough to ensure that the flavor avoids becoming cloying and unpleasant. Sticky-sweet honey and tart blackberries bring additional layers of taste and complexity that build on top of the clove to create a festive, winter party atop your tongue. The flavors don’t last for too long – fading away to a faint echo of spiced, fruity sweetness after just a few moments. But, this allows you to experience the tastiness anew each time you take a drink. Because it’s a mead, it’s a bit pricey, but the great combination of flavors are well worth it to pick up a bottle or two.
I recommend this as a dessert drink. The fruits and spices would go great with just about anything you’d eat to satisfy your post-meal sweet tooth. It also be great to drink on a chilly winter night, enjoying some “you” time, or maybe some “you plus a friend” time. B. Nektar’s Black Fang earns an A straight outta’ coffin.
Lasting Strength: 9/10
Overall: 9.4/10 A
Winter Warming Bonus: 8/10