Iron Hive, Edmonton’s latest meadery, is the brainchild of three members of the Canadian Armed Forces. Bernie Fitterer, Dave Camellini and Nick Loranger met during their service and started making mead at home a few years ago. Loranger and Camellini are brewmasters, while Fitterer has taken on the role of CEO.
“We started off in Dave’s condo a few years ago, making small batches of mead for our own personal consumption and to share with friends,” says Loranger. “We were sitting around one day, and we said, ‘Hey, why don’t we see if we can turn this into something?’ It grew from there.”
Their concept for Iron Hive is down to earth and approachable. “Our mead is something that you can take to someone’s backyard, have a fire, and drink casually,” says Fitterer. “It’s a little bit more outdoorsy than sitting down and having a fancy glass of wine.
“Our meads are slightly carbonated and we package it in cans, so they should feel a bit like beer. We’re not strictly a mead producer. We want to walk the line between mead people and craft beer people, and find a little niche right in between the two.”
The trio launched Iron Hive with a pair of meads: Gold Rush, made from summer honey, and Frost Bite, made from winter honey. They will release a third mead later in 2022, Pioneer’s Blood, made with British Columbia cherries. They source their honey from True North Apiary in Leduc.
Camellini explains that the difference between summer and winter honey is when they are harvested — at the peak of summer versus right before the cold months. Summer honey is sweeter and lighter, due to less wax content, whereas winter honey is drier and heavier due to higher wax content.
“The flora is the main component that influences taste, which is why mead has a variety of flavour profiles,” Camellini says.
Iron Hive makes its mead through a contract brewing partnership with Town Square Brewing. Their goal for 2022 is to carve out a spot for themselves in the local market and find a good, steady match between supply and demand. The trio hopes to have a facility of their own one day, but are willing to be patient until they get there.
All three co-owners intend to remain members of the CAF for the time being, while also building Iron Hive. So far, the feedback from their first customers has been very promising.
“We’ve had quite a few tastings and people love our stuff,” says Fitterer. “Our flavour is superior because we take care and attention with the type of water that we put in, with the partnerships we have for our honey, and our meticulous brewing process.”
“I like to consider us a true mead because we don’t infuse with extra sugars or bump it up with grain or anything else,” Camellini says. “It’s purely honey and water.”
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This article appears in the June 2022 issue of Edify