Plum | Pips Meadery
A few years ago (I can’t remember how far back, thanks pandemic) I was in Madison, Wisconsin for the Great Taste of the Midwest. The day before the main event on Saturday – Great Taste Eve – always starts at New Glarus for their R&D release. After picking up bottles and getting a pour of New Glarus beer, I’d join one of the many bottle shares happening on the grounds. (This was before they banned open containers on their property.) Bottles being passed around and placed on the table are common, but when someone says, “You gotta try this,” you need to. While that bottle wasn’t Plum, it was a Pips Meadery mead.
I believe what I had was Blue Suede Shews long before Matt Preis began formal production and sale of his meads. I remember the strong flavor notes and how well it compared to the Schramm’s Mead there. (It was before 2017, as that’s when Pips got their license and started legally producing and selling mead.) Since then, Pips Meadery has received nothing but accolades, including the best rated brewery/meadery on Untappd (including currently). Pips’ meads are difficult to get, expensive, and worth it. A deadly combination. (Shout out to my friend Dustin Powers for the bottle of Plum. Thanks Dustin!)
Pips Plum features, obviously, plum with orange blossom honey. It pours a purple-ish blue color with lovely garnet highlights when held up to the light. I can see a shadow of my finger through the glass, so Plum sits in that translucent category. As with all mead I’ve had there’s absolutely zero head, but the trade-off of absolutely coating my glass in either alcohol or honey tells you that you’ve something boozy or sweet on your hands.
Meads usually hit the nose as straightforwardly as possible and Plum is no exception. A fruit of some sort – plum I would assume – hits immediately and forcefully. Right behind that comes sweet but restrained honey sweetness. Somehow between those two aromas a third appears as well – grapes. Plum could seriously pass off as a wine. One of my first sniffs reminded me of communion wine. I hope it’s less boozy!
Wow. Pretty much only two things going on here again – the fruit and honey. Being brewed with orange blossom honey, you know going into Pips Plum that things will be sweet. I’ve had sweeter stouts than Plum. The plum fruit supplies tartness that perfectly cuts into that sweetness just enough to make it manageable and enjoyable. At only 12%, it’s lower in alcohol than a majority of meads I’ve had (usually in the 14%-15% range) and it makes a difference. I could have chugged Plum if I didn’t have anything to do the rest of the day.
As with most meads, Plum sits on the lower end of the carbonation spectrum, although not so low that you’re actually drinking straight honey. It still coats the tongue and leaves all the sweet and tart goodness behind. It kind of reminds me of Nerds candy (especially the purple one) on the tongue.
Plum pretty much does everything right. Not too sweet, not too tart, with that tartness cutting into the sweetness at just the right amount. Not too boozy to make it a sipper, but high enough in alcohol that you really don’t want to chug it (although I did drink mine fast). It’s the Goldilocks of the mead. Everything was pretty much just right. Even my wife – who abhors anything sweet – loved this.
Unless it’s for the podcast, I try to stay away from some of the super, super hype-y things due to cost and difficulty of acquiring (rendering things like Side Project and Sante Adairius almost non-existent on the podcast). I would be lying if I said I wasn’t interested in having more Pips. The question is whether I can enough for a show because Pips is doing some amazing things with mead. Look for more on this site from Pips – if I can get it.
Pips Meadery mead are sometimes (very rarely) available at their site or through a lottery. Good luck in getting them either way!