Hive & Barrel Meadery soon will begin filling these bottles at 3rd Turn Oldham Gardens. | Photo by Kevin Gibson

3rd Turn Oldham Gardens, the expansive Crestwood location of 3rd Turn Brewing, will soon get a new roommate — Hive & Barrel Meadery will begin selling its honey-based beverages there this spring.

The meadery already has gone into production, having produced just under 200 gallons of mead so far in four different styles. Owners Mike Pemberton, Lacie Mono, Joel Halbleib and Chris Brian will sell the mead on draft and, later, in bottles.

Pemberton, an IT professional by day, is the man behind the mead, having begun making mead after tasting it at a Renaissance festival in North Carolina. A homebrewer already, he was intrigued and began experimenting with making mead with his equipment.

Three of the owners of Hive & Barrel Meadery: Lacie Mono, Joel Halbleib and Mike Penderton. Not pictured is Chris Brian. | Photo by Kevin Gibson

“Lots of not so good things came from that experiment,” Pemberton says with a smile, “but good things came as well.”

Whatever experiments didn’t go well at first, they led him to some skills that brought his efforts full circle to ultimately winning the mead competition at last summer’s Kentucky State Fair.

Mead, sometimes called “the drink of the gods,” has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years, although it is generally connected with civilizations past. It is believed to be the first fermented alcoholic beverage and is made simply with honey, yeast and water.

However, the experimental part means adding different fruits, spices and other flavors.

The four flavors Pemberton, with help from Halbleib, who also is co-owner and brewer at Goodwood Brewing, has focused on so far is a classic honey mead, a peanut butter and jelly mead, a chipotle mango version, and a maple syrup mead.

The honey mead is crisp and semi-sweet, much like a dry cider or white wine, while the peanut butter and jelly currently is awash in concord grape with peanut notes (future batches will get more peanuts, Pemberton says), and the chipotle mango has a surprising spicy kick to go with some natural fruity sweetness.

Mono says the business — she is co-owner of 3rd Turn Oldham Gardens as well — will be operating on a 10-year plan; the long-term plan is to institute a barrel-aging mead program and to eventually have bee hives on site. The group is currently in search of a place to source locally produced honey, but for now it sources from a company in Pennsylvania called Dutch Gold.

Among the early batches are peanut butter and jelly, chipotle mango and classic honey mead. | Photo by Kevin Gibson

The meads will be served in 4- and 6-ounce pours, per tradition — the three meads set out for tasting on a recent visit all were above 10 percent alcohol by volume.

But meads will be produced, such as the maple syrup version, that will be slightly more accessible, at 7 or 8 percent, Pemberton says.

In addition, Hive & Barrel meads will be available only on site, at least for the foreseeable future.

“It’s a premium product,” Mono says. “We’re not making 50-gallon batches.”

Indeed, the tiny production space at 3rd Turn holds six or seven vessels — all but one or two named after family dogs past and present — meaning significant growth isn’t really part of the longterm plan. Well, unless demand dictates as much, necessitating an expansion.

“When you have to take the roof off to get bigger tanks in,” Pemberton says, “you know you’re doing something right.”

Michael Pemberton at work in the meadery. | Photo by Kevin Gibson

A designated tasting bar has been built on-site to offer bottle sales, swag, as well as tastings and education.

“I’d say 50 percent of people have absolutely no clue what it is,” Mono says. “Maybe 25 percent know a little, and the rest think it’s the stuff you drink from a horn at renaissance festivals.”

“And there’s the small amount that think it’s ‘meat,’” Halbleib adds.

Mono and Brian, both food service veterans, also run the on-site restaurant at 3rd Turn, Backside Grill, and there will be food pairings to allow people to clear their palates between tastes.

This partnership also will likely lead to more, with Mono and Bryan handling the front end.

“Chris and I have never made one fermented beverage in our lives,” Mono says, “but we know how to sell it.”

“It’s a great opportunity to do mead dinners,” Pemberton adds. “There’s really no limit to what we can do. We’re looking forward to all the options.”

No start date is set for mead sales, but Pemberton says there will likely be a couple of soft opens before an official opening event is announced, likely sometime in April.

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Kevin Gibson
Kevin Gibson tackles the 3Rs — retail, restaurants, real estate — plus, economic development. He loves bacon, loathes cucumbers and once interviewed Yoko Ono. Check out his books, “Louisville Beer: Derby City History on Draft” and “100 Things to do in Louisville Before You Die.” He has won numerous awards for his work but doesn’t know where most of them are now. In his spare time, he plays in a band called the Uncommon Houseflies.Email Kevin at [email protected]