As Midwesterners, we knew that Michigan was a destination for beer, wine, cider, etc. You name it, they have it! As we traveled more for work and pleasure, we came across B Nektar from our drinking exploitations. Our entry point with their brand? Zombie Killer, a hard cider made with cherries and honey. This was an absolute gem and, while not the initial primer for our love of cider, it was paramount in our exploration of more Midwestern ciders.
We were well aware of their knowledgeable team and full-line of beer, cider, and mead. We just loved it all and wanted to chat with them about their products, their brand, and just pick their brain to get a more intimate education on all things B Nektar.
Brad and Kerri Dalhofer were introduced to and inspired by, wonderful and unique meads back in 2006 as members of a home-brew club. There was a realization that if they wanted more of the awesome meads they got to taste and make, they would have to go commercial as there was nothing like it available at the time. The entire business started because there was a lack of good mead products in the market. That, and the recession that started in 2008, causing both my Brad and Kerri, to lose their jobs. They decided to pursue their dream of owning a business making a product they love that almost no one else had done before. The Mead boom has to start somewhere, they just didn’t know at the time that they were starting a boom.
Why does your brand offer mead, cider, and beer instead of just focusing on one beverage?Why not? Mead was B. Nektar’s focus when we first opened. We started with higher abv still meads and branched out into “session” (carbonated and lower abv) meads and cysers. As cider gained in popularity, it was an easy transition to offering cider-based products as well. We’ve always been fans of craft beer and our branding and products fit that market. However, with so many breweries popping up, we weren’t trying to compete but we did want to offer beer as well.
If you’ve seen our designs, you can tell we get a lot of ideas from pop culture, movies, and music. It’s a fun way to connect with our audience.
After this year, I’m hesitant to expect anything other than that we will still be producing great mead, cider, and beer. We’ll continue to offer new R&D products in our taproom, with the favorites becoming branded products we offer in distribution. Our hope is to get into cans provided the shortage situation rights itself. You can look for our Kill all the Golfers mead to make an appearance in 4 packs soon with other brands to follow.
We are located in 27 states nationally and can also be found in Europe. Here is a listing of the states our product can be found: http://www.bnektar.com/find-us/
Our brand is definitely one that sticks out. Guided by geeky imagination, influenced by sub-pop culture, and never satisfied with the status quo, B. Nektar aims to bring a modern twist on mead as well as diversify craft mead, cider, and beer. We have a small but mighty marketing and branding team (Kerri Dahlhofer & Miranda Johnson) that has a lot of fun coming up with new brands and content. Many employees are involved with names, concepts, and flavors. We are a small company and everyone contributes to product development.
More on our production staff: If needed; Our Main Production Team consists of four full-time associates and two part-time associates. Renee’ Kolleth-Thomas is our Head Mead/Cider Maker as well as our Laboratory Manager. She oversees everything in both Main Production and Small (Limited) Batch production, ensuring everything is scheduled to run smoothly and ensures all of our products meet our very high quality standard. Tony Kales is our AMAZING boots on the ground guy in Main Production, he is the beating heart that makes Main Production run. He pretty much single handedly does all of the day to day production work, from offloading the cider truck when we have a delivery, mixing honey musts, inoculation, filtration, stabilization, backsweetening, literally everything. If you have had any one of our core products, Tony made it.
Ian McClelland is our Packaging Lead. He ensures that packaging operates smoothly, assisting, consulting and mentoring our part time packaging team members. Ian is also our main brewer in the building, he is responsible for most of the beers we produce in house for our taproom.
Shana Byas is our Shipping and Receiving member, who also assists on packaging days. She is responsible for getting our products to distributors safely and efficiently.
Mike Henowski is our part time packaging person. Working closely with Ian, they ensure that our products are packaged safely and meet all QA standards.
Brad Wade (affectionately knows as “Wade”) is our on sight mechanic, engineer, fixer of all the things. He also has an amazing understanding of fermentation with his homebrew experience, and has the ability to jump in wherever he is needed for assistance.
Fundamentally, they are very similar. Cider is made from pressed apples (juice), inoculate with your chosen yeast, add nutrients if needed and allow it to ferment. Mead, you mix honey and water to achieve the desired Brix level, inoculate with your chosen yeast, add nutrients and allow to ferment. High gravity meads require closer monitoring of nutritional needs, but that is about it.
Cysers are made by mixing honey to apple juice and fermenting them together. We use a wide variety of ingredients. Our main stipulation is that we like great quality ingredients so that we can make great products. We try to source as locally as possible as long as the local option meets our standards, but sometimes we just don’t have a choice and have to source from out of state. All of our ingredients are agricultural; late frosts, floods, dry summers, they all have an impact on the ability to source ingredients.
Pyments are made by mixing honey with grape juice and fermenting together. We make them because they are delicious. It is like combining the best of the mead world with the wine world. You can add a nice complexity to your wine by making a pyment instead. One misnomer about pyments, and frankly meads, is that because honey is involved many assume that it is going to be sweet, and that isn’t the case. You can make things as sweet or as dry as you want. The mixing of honey and grape juice together makes a beautiful blend of tannins, acidity, sweetness if desired, or if not a beautiful deep complexity that honey adds when it is fermented.