(Crystal A. Proxmire, March 20, 2013)
“Schramm’s meads are meant to stay with you.” This is how 53 year old Ken Schramm describes the craft-brewed beverages he and his family will be bringing to Ferndale with the opening of Schramm’s Mead at 327 W. 9 Mile later this spring. “I like to produce meads that completely explore every bit of flavor and deliciousness you can get out of the ingredients. I specialize in fruit meads, and I also like to make meads flavored with spices. If I make a cherry mead, it will express the cherries as fully as I can, with as much fidelity to their character as I can.”
Schramm is an undisputed expert in the world of mead-making. His book “The Compleat Meadmaker” has been sold worldwide since first released in 2003 by Brewers Publications, and he’s the founder of an internationally-cherished mead competition called The Mazer Cup. The competition is now in the hands of Vicki Rowe and Petar Bakulic. Held just last weekend in Boulder, Colorado, the event featured mead makers Nicaragua and Argentina, Poland, Germany, Czech Republic and Canada, and scores of meaderies from the US. On a more local level, he has produced mead under the B. Nektar label, another fine Ferndale producer. That mead has received 100 point ratings at ratebeer.com.
It all began in 1988. “My older brother bought me a beer making kit for Christmas and got me into home brewing in 1988. In the book that came with the kit – “The Complete Joy of Homebrewing” by Charlie Papazian – there’s an appendix about mead.
“He made mead seem like the best thing since breathing was invented. So I tried it and I got hooked,” Schramm said.
The focus will be on production and tastings, and there will be food items available to go along with the mead. The Schramm family will manager production and run the tasting room, with daughter Alyson working as the operations manager.
Schramm grew up in Trenton, but has been coming to Ferndale his whole life to visit his grandparents who lived here. They were members of First United Methodist Church on Woodward, and his mother graduated from Lincoln High School in 1953. Keeping it local, they teamed up with Ferndale-based Revolution Signs to make their sign, and plan on using Michigan products as much as possible in their business.
“We chose Ferndale because it represented the best possible combination for us: it’s got great, open-minded people who are always interested in new, high-quality experiences. The city is very welcoming and helpful to new businesses, and we found a fantastic location at a very good rental rate,” he said. The opening is dependent on the complex licensing process, including having bottling labels approved, but they are aiming for Memorial Day. City Council approved a resolution in support of Schramm’s license at their March 11th council meeting.
Schramm shared his perspective on the way the world is changing, stating “The food and beverage industry in the US today is changing dramatically. Consumers are moving away from mega-corporation produced, lowest common denominator food and drink, and toward smaller, tastier products, produced by thoughtful entrepreneurs, who concentrate on local ingredients, high quality, sustainability, and participation in the communities that support them. It is a craft movement; there are craft brewers, craft distillers, craft pizzerias. The craft beverage alcohol trade is based on a philosophy that it is more satisfying and more sensible to have a small amount of a high quality beer, wine or mead than a large amount of a lower quality product. It comes down to this: eating and drinking better things improves our quality of life. Schramm’s is all about quality-over-quantity.”
Those who are excited about the opening can look forward to a delicious variety of flavors. “The first few meads we will be making are a blackberry mead, a raspberry mead, a ginger mead, and a couple of very high end meads – a black raspberry mead, and my best mead, called the Heart of Darkness. They are all full-bodied, sweeter meads, with really explosive aromas and flavors. The Heart of Darkness is a blend of Morello cherries, red raspberries and black currants,” Schramm said.